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Fermented beauty will totally transform your skin, here's what you need to know

Fermented beauty may not sound like the most appealing prospect – after all, it sounds more like something you’d learn about in science class, or else, some suspicious moulding substance you’d rather not know about, let alone slather all over your skin. But recently we’ve seen brands embracing fermentation to achieve next level products that cater to skin's every need and provide some impressive beauty benefits.

The traditional process goes like this; an ingredient is soaked in a solution to allow bacteria to grow. The bacteria then breaks down the sugars within the ingredient resulting in a number of effects. In fermented foods, like sauerkraut, yogurt and kimchi, the lack of sugar gives a tart, funky flavour and the beneficial bacteria boost gut health, making fermentation a bit of a wellness buzzword. So, how on earth does this apply to our beauty products?

Beauty brand Clinique has been blazing a trail with its fermented skincare ingredients, including most recently with the reformulation of their hero Moisture Surge moisturiser, which contains fermented aloe vera. “We've been using aloe vera and its different extracts for years now and the benefits to skin are well documented," explains Steven Schnittger, VP Global Microbiology & Fermentation at Clinique. “We've also been fermenting a lot of different ingredients over the past 30 years and I was really excited when we started talking about making this aloe ferment. Fermented aloe vera is more bioavailable and penetrates the skin more easily."

To get started, a cryogenically frozen pellet of bacteria called lactobacillus is added to a medium on a petri-dish for growth and then put into a fermenter. Once it has finished fermenting, it's added to a base ready to be used in skincare formulation.

“Moisture surge and the aloe ferment was developed to really help accelerate and enhance hydration into the deeper tissues,” adds Dr. Tom Mammone, VP of Skin Physiology and Pharmacology at Clinique. “The aloe ferment also increases collagen synthesis, which was really exciting. During that process, the collagen draws in more water and plumps up the skin." The results speak for themselves – a 174% boost to skin's hydration levels for 100 hours.

As well as the skincare benefits, other brands call upon fermentation to replace traditional preservatives. While all products on the market in the EU have been independently assessed for safety, there's still concern over the health effects of these synthetic ingredients and more and more people are opting to avoid them in their skincare. "The concern is that they are indirectly harmful to our bodies when absorbed through the skin," says Sophie Thompson, founder of Sister & Co. Skin Food.

To avoid the issue of including synthetics while retaining the shelf life of their products, the brand uses a natural preservative, Radish Root Ferment, where radishes are fermented with a lactic acid bacteria called Leuconostoc Kimchii for an effective natural alternative.

Other brands that have embraced fermented ingredients include Drunk Elephant, who have a Fermented Sweet Biome Sake Spray that claims to strengthen the microbiome, and Glossier, who launched their Cleanser Concentrate containing exfoliating grape ferment.

While fermented beauty trend is still relatively young, we are hoping to see more fermented fancies very soon; “Fermented and probiotic ingredients are now a big thing over here, after first getting a name for themselves in Korea," says Sophie. "One of big new claims and a huge potential for the future is that fermenting skincare ingredients first can help the skin absorb them more easily. We’re testing that hypothesis out in our own formulations – and the results speak for themselves!”.

It certainly sounds promising…

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

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