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You may have come across a Chinese article circulated on social media a few weeks ago about luxury skincare brand, SK-II, and how it contains ingredients that are detrimental to our body. Before the article was taken down by the website, we noticed many of you raising questions about the brand, about the key ingredient, Pitera, which is used in all of SK-II products, and whether (as the article claimed) the brand has been banned in the USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Snapshot of original article that has been deleted

Snapshot of original article that has been deleted.

Related: 7 scary (and funny!) beauty horror stories that will make you cringe

Instead of biting our nails, worrying about whether we should dump out that bottle of Facial Treatment Essence that has been serving us well the last few years, Daily Vanity decided to approach SK-II to clarify on some of the points that were raised in the deleted article.

Myth #1: Pitera Is Merely an Yeast and Is Detrimental to Our Skin?

SK-II representatives explain that Pitera, the key ingredient found in SK-II products, is a metabolic fluid released during the fermentation process of one of the world’s rarest and finest strain of yeast. It is made up of a delicate composition of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids and contains certain components of Natural Moisturizing Factor, which exists in human skin. Based on over 30 years of ongoing research, the brand found that Pitera can help enhance skin texture, radiance, firmness, reduce spots, and diminish wrinkles.


SK-II clarifies that it is not true that SK-II products are harmful to skin. “All our products undergo stringent regulatory and safety testing before they are sold in market. Furthermore, the skin transformation efficacy of our signature ingredient Pitera has been proven via various clinical and scientific studies over the past 35 years. In addition, SK-II’s long-term, loyal users, such as celebrity makeup artist Pat McGrath and actress Cate Blanchett, have seen results from their use of SK-II over the years,” says its representatives.

Here’s a video of Kate Bosworth learning about the heritage of the brand:

And if you’re more the scientific-type, you may want to watch this video of SK-II Japan’s experts explaining what Pitera is about:

Myth 2: SK-II Is Banned in Countries Like the USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia Because Its Products Cannot Pass Official Tests for Sale?

According to SK-II, the products are in fact available from SK-II counters and authorized retailers in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia. While there are no SK-II counters in New Zealand currently, SK-II is not banned.

Daily Vanity did a quick search and it isn’t hard to find out that, in the USA, SK-II counters are available in reputable retailers like Nordstorm, Macys and Bloomingdale. Similarly, if you’d like to purchase SK-II products in Australia, you can locate a retailer here. The myth that the brand is not available in Western countries is easily debunked.

“All of our products undergo stringent regulatory and safety testing to ensure they satisfy the required standards and qualifications of the specific country’s regulations before they are approved for sale,” clarifies SK-II.


Myth 3: SK-II Products Are Designed To Alter Your Genes Negatively?

To clarify on this question, we asked SK-II if skincare products, and specifically SK-II products are able to “alter genes”.

Through extensive investigations on skin science, SK-II says that they have found that as we are born with a predetermined set of genes, it is impossible for beauty products to change the genes or DNA we were born with. Rather, genes must be activated or deactivated to produce an increase or decrease in proteins, leading to specific bio-indexes which signal to induce changes in the skin’s conditions.

In other words, there’s no skincare technology at the moment that can actually “alter” genes that you’re born with.

Who Do We Believe?

You may cast doubt on this article because it comes from the brand, but take note that the original article was produced by an anonymous poster based on his/her own observation, experience and analysis. What we aim to do in this article is to offer a balanced argument so you can decide for yourself what is good for you.

While we aren’t skincare authorities, we have these tips to share with you when it comes to discerning what products to use:

  • Find out more about the brand. Find out if the brand has credible research to back up their claims, and if they’re sold at authorised retailers.
  • Get reviews. Whether is it reading online reviews or to find out from existing users who have tried the products, this is a good way to find out if a product works. Bear in mind, though, to shy away from websites that constantly give good reviews, and also remember that everyone’s skin is different, so what works for another may not work for you and vice versa.
  • Understand your skin. Like we mentioned, everyone’s skin is different. Most beauty counters offer skin analyses that allow you to understand your skin type and concerns, and hence, the type of products that will be most suitable for you.
  • Try the products. Ask for samples so you can try and see if you like the products before you buy it. Many beauty counters offer sampling, and all you need to do is ask.