Fermented skincare is a hallmark of K beauty, a type of skincare from Korea that has recently become popularized in the US. Fermentation is a process that organisms use to preserve themselves, to create energy, and to eliminate oxygen from their environment. There are three types of fermentation. There’s alcohol/ethanol fermentation, there’s lactic acid, and there’s acetic acid fermentation. Lactic acid is the type of fermentation primarily used in skincare. Lactic acid fermentation is a process where you introduce a microbe, bacteria, or yeast into an ingredient, and the process changes the chemical structure of the ingredient by breaking it down into the basic building blocks
“These "basic building blocks" include vitamins, essential minerals, and amino acids in their purest form. Because they've been broken down by microbes, bacteria, and yeast, the skin can absorb smaller, more concentrated molecules that are already prepared for your skin. As a result, your skin doesn’t have to synthesize the ingredients as much (Caroline Chang, MD).
Bacteria breaks down skincare ingredients into smaller parts so the skin can fully utilize them and direct them to where they need to go. For example, the ingredient, coconut oil, is composed of triglycerides, which are three fatty chains bound together by a glycerol backbone. But in order to be beneficial to the skin, coconut oil needs to be separated. The fatty acids have to be separated into their separate chains by the enzymes in our skin. However, not everyone has the necessary enzymes to break the triglycerides apart. Likewise, fermentation can assist in the process of breaking apart and concentrating skincare ingredients so they can be more available to the skin. This concept applies not only to coconut oil but to a multitude of skincare ingredients. When molecules are smaller and more concentrated, they are better absorbed into the skin, no matter how your enzymes are set up.
Furthermore, the process of fermentation increases the quantity and potency of B and C vitamins. On top of that, the probiotics, enzymes, and lactic acid within fermented foods facilitate the absorption of these vitamins and minerals into the body.
Therefore, the increased penetration rate of vitamins and antioxidants leads to superior hydration of the skin as well as protection against inflammation, free radicals, and UV damage.
Fortunately, some brands have been able to replicate lactic acid fermentation within skincare successfully, and Haruharu is one of them.
Haruharu WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner - $10.99
This is like Kombucha for your face, and it is one of our favorite products. All of HaruHaru’s products are vegan and cruelty-free. The formulations have fermented ingredients as well as black rice. Did you know that black rice actually has 30 times the amount of rice compared to white rice? Antioxidants protect the skin against harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species from the sun, pollution, and stress. Even breathing produces radical oxygen species (ROS) that deconstruct your cells. Fortunately, antioxidants, which are abundant in fermented skincare, keep oxidative stress down by pairing with them.
HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Moisture 5.5 Soft Cleansing Gel - $11.99
You can use this as a first step in your skincare routine, and it is a cruelty-free, vegan, and sustainable dupe for DHC. Overall, it’s a great cleanser that does not strip the skin.
Haruharu WONDER Black Bamboo Mist - $16.99
This has jojoba, rice bran, sweet almond oil, and lavender. It is still unscented though. The blend of oils absorbs into the skin nicely, and of course, it’s infused with antioxidants.
Haruharu WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Cream (50g) - $10.39
This is a lightweight moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, a humectant, and antioxidants. It doesn’t leave your skin feeling oversaturated, and you can even seal it in with an oil.
On top of having wonderful ingredients that have been fermented, all of HaruHaru’s packaging is printed with soy ink, and it is totally made of forestry certified components. HaruHaru makes sure that anything cut down is done so sustainably, and they also ensure that people are paid fairly.