Fermented soy, herbs, and rice extracts have been used in Japanese skincare for decades and just like their edible counterparts, they became essential in skin health. A deeper look into the science of fermentation in skincare began after examining the hands of old sake brewers. With almost a lifetime of working with the fermented rice, their hands remained youthful while the rest of their skin aged normally. Skin exposed to this fermentation supported healthy cell turnover and more youthful skin cell regeneration, and from this we can now find the fountain of youth in a variety of skincare products.
Enzymes are part of the naturally occurring process when fermentation takes place, breaking down sugars, starches and alcohols. These enzymatic effects also make an excellent natural exfoliant for the skin. With a wide arrange in skincare, from the stronger papain (papaya derived) to the gentle phytic acid (rice derived), they naturally break up dead skin cells for softer skin and a glowing complexion. Powder enzyme cleansers gently dissolves clogged pores to assist with a deeper permeation of skincare products and improved skin texture.
Certain sulfurs are also naturally occurring in the fermentation process, although it may be offensive to the nose (think hard boiled eggs) it is also phenomenal at destroying acne-causing bacteria while being easy on the skin. These cleansers are able to support healthy skin flora while killing bad bacteria and balancing skin.
One of the first discoveries found in fermentation was that it made ingredients much more potent; increasing the amino acid, peptide, vitamin and mineral content in the process. It also adds more supportive microorganisms, passing on more benefits to the skin. Fermented products have also been found to be more absorbable due to the process of breaking down into even smaller molecular size to penetrate deeper into the skin. Skincare with fermented extracts are also less likely to irritate skin and is able to pH balance more acidic ingredients.
Food for Thought
There’s no disputing that there is a gut–skin relationship, so some pickles might be your skin savior. Fermented foods have been shelf-staples in Japanese homes and for generations a proper diet with these ingredients have been associated with clear, healthy skin. Adding fermented foods to your meals can promote better digestion, prevent overgrowth of bad bacteria, guard against allergies and environmental toxins, and increase overall health. So before looking into that new serum, eating fermented foods might just yield better results for a blemish-free skin glow. Preserved treats with too-high sodium content can diminish its benefits so snack in moderation.
Fermented Foods: natto/fermented soybeans, miso/soybean paste, soy sauce/shoyu, tsukemono/ Japanese pickled vegetables, sake and amazake/rice wine, Korean kimchi/spicy cabbage and vegetables, kombucha/fermented tea, sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir, butter and cheese, and certain kinds of vinegar.