Derm DMs: What Is Fermented Skincare?

November 22, 2022
Ariel Wodarcyk
By: Ariel Wodarcyk | by L'Oréal
Three images of models with a sepia filter

You’ve heard of fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha and yogurt, but what about fermented skincare? Fermented skincare products can provide your skin with helpful antioxidants, peptides, acids and enzymes, all of which can contribute to a healthier skin barrier. To help you find out more about what fermented skincare is and the ingredients to look for, we spoke to Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist and consultant, below. 

What Is Fermented Skincare?

“Fermented skincare refers to skincare that contains ingredients that have been broken down in the presence of bacteria and other microorganisms,” says Dr. Garshick. Similar to fermented food, once these skincare ingredients are broken down to their basic forms (such as vitamins, peptides, enzymes and amino acids), they become more potent. Dr. Garshick adds that fermented ingredients may be better able to penetrate the skin and may also last longer than non-fermented skincare. 

What Are Common Fermented Skincare Ingredients?

One of the best-known fermented skincare ingredients is lactic acid. Studies have shown that lactic acid can help slough away dead skin cells from the skin’s surface to help reveal a smoother looking complexion. It can be found in many exfoliating products, including the Kiehl’s Ferulic Brew Antioxidant Facial Treatment, which is designed to help smooth the appearance of your complexion and enhance radiance. 

“Other fermented ingredients may include mushrooms, green tea, chamomile, wasabi, sea kelp, black soy [and] ginseng,” says Dr. Garshick. 


Kiehl’s Ferulic Brew Antioxidant Facial Treatment

Why Should You Consider Using Fermented Skincare?

“The benefit of fermentation is that it uses a natural process to help enhance potency and penetration, without irritating the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. She says that because of this, fermented skincare ingredients can work for all skin types, including sensitive skin

Research also suggests that fermented ingredients may also help support skin hydration and pH levels.


Design: Juliana Campisi

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