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A few years ago, I had the chance to art direct a pop-up store for the Japanese luxury skincare brand SK-II. Surely, you’ve heard of them? You’d certainly recognize them. If you flip through any major fashion magazine from the past 15 years, you would undoubtedly discover their vibrant red ads featuring the radiant image of Cate Blanchett (*or Haruka Ayase in Asia).

I consider myself something of a nihilist, especially when it comes to advertising, so when I say rarely am I influenced by a celebrity endorsement, I. mean. practically. never. But can we talk about Cate Blanchett for a second? If ever there was a celebrity-x-brand match made in Heaven, this is it. Her complexion is the stuff dreams are made of (I mean, come on, the lady *is* Galadriel). Her features are smooth, even-toned, and naturally glowing, but in a relatable way – presumably achieved through regular use of SK-II’s product line.

SK–II Cate Blanchett

At any rate, I assure you the SK-II brand is iconic. I’d even go so far as to say their ads are the luxury beauty equivalent of the Great Gatsby’s “eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg.” So back in 2015, there I was, hired to work on a big experiential project for this beloved Japanese brand. I was beyond excited.

The pop-up, which lasted for a month in downtown Manhattan, turned out to be an interesting operational challenge, but in the end, my team pulled it off, and we each received several full-sized product samples to try ourselves. It’s here that my love affair with “Galactomyces” begins.

What is Galactomyces?

As a young man in his 20s, naturally large pores were the bane of my existence. The ultra clarifying effect of the iPhone photo algorithm certainly did nothing to help my psychosis. When taking a “selfie” (ugh, that word), my eyes instantly flicked to every porous crevice and mountain illuminated in high definition on my phone screen.

Yet, I kid you not, after a month trialing SK-II’sEssence andR.N.A Night Cream, my pores were barely noticeable. Ever the cynic, I did some research to try and figure out the cause of the effect. Diving in to SK-II’s description of “Pitera” (its key ingredient, aka. their fancy marketing term for Galactomyces), I uncovered this anecdote:

“In the 1970’s, Japanese scientists observed by chance that elderly saké brewers had amazingly soft, youthful hands in contrast to their aged, wrinkled faces. Back in their lab, they surmised the secret lied in the yeast the brewers’ hands were in constant contact with during the saké fermentation process. They then researched over 350 yeast strains to isolate the yeast strain that held the secret to crystal clear skin.”

In essence, Galactomyces is a class of yeast (one of a select few yeast strains that have made their way into skincare). In the case of both SK-II and EVENPRIME (which also incorporates the ingredient), Galacytomyces is a fermented filtrate, which means the yeast itself is filtered out, and the rice-based fermented substrate is instead incorporated into the formula for increased effectiveness.

Comparing SK-II to EVENPRIME

SK-II is a great brand, but has two major pitfalls.  The first is the price tag. For example, its most popular productThe Facial Treatment Essence retails in the U.S. for a staggering $99 per 2.5 o.z.  The second is the formulation – SK-II is comprised primarily of Pitera (nothing more than the brand’s trade name for Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate), a few humectants, and unfortunately, the anti-fungal Methyl-paraben, a known endocrine disruptor and skin irritant.  And didn’t your momma warn you about parabens?

Enter EVENPRIME’s ownSoothing Face Mist ($24) andDaily Moisturizer ($32). Each product not only contains an ample amount of Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, but each is also packed with tons of skin beneficial ingredients like Centella Asiatica, Madecassoside, and Niacinamide (a type of vitamin B3 that is very effective restoring the skin, improving enlarged pores, helping uneven skin tone, reducing acne, and more).

Mist + Moisturizer | EVENPRIME

When it comes to ingredients alone, SK-II has yeast fermentation, water and a lot of preservatives.  Meanwhile, EVENPRIME’s products have actual hydrating ingredients that work hard to repair skin. EVENPRIME is also a lot cheaper.  Sounds like a no brainer when comparing the two, right? But what’s the catch?

None! Thanks to a great relationship with our chemist and laboratory in Korea, we are able to utilize the same key ingredients as luxury products, without the heavy mark-up for big agency advertising, fancy packaging, or big celebrity endorsements.

Galactomyces Skin Benefits

  • Reduces the appearance of skin pigmentation, acne scars and oxidative stress
  • Smoothes and purifies rough skin, visually making pores smaller
  • Improves the natural barrier function of skin
  • Helps soothe stressed, irritated skin
  • Restores skin tone and brightness
  • Active acne treatment (controls sebum production)

Is it suitable for my skin type?

Galactomyces is basically suitable for every skin type.  As a young person with sensitive, combination/oily skin, I have fallen head over heels in love with Galactomyces.  In my personal list of must-have K-Beauty/J-Beauty ingredients, Galactomyces is in the top 3.

When vetting new products, just remember to patch test, especially if you have lingering skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, etc.!

Hero Products with Galactomyces