Does SKII’s Facial Treatment Essence Really Work?

I put their much-raved-about funky-smelling star product to the test.
Publish date:
November 4, 2013
cult favorites, serums, discoloration, japanese, sk-ii, clear skin, clear skin stuff

I love having grown up in Singapore. Despite all my complaints (a distinctive Singaporean trait), I have a lot to be thankful for; had I been born just a few hours outside this island, my life would be entirely different from what it is today. On top of that, I’ve had so many career and life opportunities because of where I was born, how I was raised and such. Like I said, a lot to be thankful for.

As with living in any part of the world, the pluses come with minuses. In Singapore, I can always count on some things, like the efficiency of the transport system, the amazing local food and its proximity to so many wicked destinations in Asia, but there are other things, like beauty ideals, that drive me up the wall.

I ranted about vaginal whitening products months ago when xoVain first launched, and on top of that, while I know slimming centers exist, this chart a friend posted shocked me:

It is a height-to-weight chart that is apparently, for “Asians.” First, the term "Asian" is so generic. Indians are Asians; so are Thais, Japanese, Burmese and so forth. Second, these standards aren’t even according to BMI calculations, and I already have issues with BMI! No wonder so many women in Singapore feel absolutely disgusted with themselves.

All that leads to a facial I had at an SKII boutique several weeks ago.

The facialist started by photographing my face and analyzing it. According to her, my pores are large, my skin is dehydrated, and my collagen levels are low. Apparently, according to the SKII average, my skin is two years older than the age I actually am.

After ripping my skin confidence to shreds, she tried to sell me about $600 worth of SKII products I couldn’t afford.

I was particularly interested in their much-raved-about Facial Treatment Essence, though. I received it years ago in a press goodie bag when I was 19, but it went to my mom’s stash instead. According to the facialist, some users report a change in their skin within three days of use, including a change in texture, lightening of dark spots and evening out of skin tone.

Sounds like an xoVain challenge to me! I lived off cans of tuna, boiled eggs and broccoli for a week, and saved up enough dough for a tiniest bottle of the stuff. If it were that miraculous, I could sacrifice some things.

And so I documented 10 days of using SKII twice a day. To make sure that variables are fair, I used no additional products other than my Clarisonic, cleanser, eye cream and moisturizer. The SKII Facial Treatment Essence is the only serum that I used.

Day 2:

I used the SKII essence under my sunscreen the day before, prior to leaving home for work, and again at night. You're advised to pat on the serum instead of wiping it on your face, and I had done so.

Almost immediately, I felt an improvement in my skin texture, much like what would happen when you use the SKII Facial Treatment Mask, which I feel is a more potent product that the Essence. No significant change.

Day 4:

My acne scars from my recent hormonal zits are still on my forehead, and there are no changes to my uneven skin tone. However, my face does feel smoother to touch.

Day 10:

My dark spots from the hormonal zits have lightened slightly, but we all know that happens with time. My skin feels very smooth to the touch, but there hasn't been a change in my skin tone--it's still pretty uneven.

Verdict: SKII Facial Treatment Essence is too expensive for me. I'd rather spend money on their single-serving masks for days I need to glow more than usual. Plus, single-serving masks are more fun anyway!