SK-II Whitening Source Clear Lotion
5 fl. oz. for $70
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Brand Overview
Expert Reviews

Other than niacinamide and a small amount of ascorbyl glucoside (a form of vitamin C), this toner-like skin-lightening product doesn’t contain anything of significance to banish skin discolorations. If you want to see how niacinamide might work on your discolorations, you can purchase any of the serums or lightening products from Olay’s Regenerist or Definity lines (Procter & Gamble owns both SK-II and Olay, and Olay has the better products).

It’s particularly egregious that SK-II included (and brags about) peppermint extract, which serves only to irritate skin and offers no whitening (though consumers may think the product is working because it tingles). Pitera, the star ingredient found throughout the SK-II line, is front-and-center in this product. Please refer to the brand summary for SK-II for a detailed explanation of Pitera. The bottom line is that there is no published, substantiated research anywhere proving that it has any benefits for skin, and that includes having any effect on discolorations.

Last Updated:02.08.2013
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews

Advanced moisturizing and exfoliating formula - designed to work in harmony with Whitening Source DermDefinition. Smooths and clarifies. Optimizes skin’s translucency. Contains peppermint extract and our exclusive DermComplex.


Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Metabisulfite, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Hydrolyzed Conchiolin Protein, Triethylhexanoin, Diphenyl Dimethicone, PEG-32, Titanium Dioxide, Polysorbate 20, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Benzyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Methylparaben

Brand Overview

Despite its high-end pricing, much of the SK-II products are surprisingly ordinary—many contain a small assortment of beneficial ingredients in addition to standard moisturizing agents and fragrance. Though their marketing campaigns are compelling, much is left to be desired when you compare glossy layouts to ingredients and formulas.

Pitera is the cornerstone of the SK-II line and is present in every SK-II product. There is some research demonstrating that this yeast, galactomyces ferment filtrate, has a protective effect on the skin barrier, working to prevent damage to the proteins that play a critical role in maintaining its integrity. There isn’t much beyond this single study, so there is no way to compare it to the already well-researched ingredients on the market, but it is intriguing (Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2015). Why SK-II chose to base their line around this ingredient given the lack of knowledge about it is curious—there are plenty of research-proven alternatives they could have considered (vitamin C, green tea, retinol, etc.), or at least paired with Pitera!

In the end, much of the SK-II line lacks the formulas to warrant their price tags. However, if you’re looking to splurge, there are a few products to consider—see our full reviews for more information.

For more information about SK-II, owned by Procter & Gamble, visit www.sk-ii.com.

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