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Sk-II Facial Treatment Cleanser Ingredients Explained

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Updated on March 01, 2024 Submitted by komatta

There is an older formulation of this product:

Overview

What it is

Face cleanser with 17 ingredients that contains AHA, BHA and hyaluronic acid

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, anti aging, dry skin, brightening skin, oily skin, reducing pores, scar healing, dark spots and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any harsh alcohols, common allergens, fragrances, oils, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

Sk-II is from Japan. This product is used in 19 routines created by our community.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

AHA (2)
BHA
Hyaluronic Acid

Benefits

Hydrating (2)
Good For Oily Skin
Skin Texture (2)
Reduces Large Pores (3)
Anti-Aging
Dark Spots
Scar Healing (3)
Acne Fighting
Brightening (4)

Concerns

Drying
Irritating (3)
Rosacea (3)
Eczema (3)

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Humectant
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconNot safe for Fungal Acne Icon
3
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
1 / 0
4
Emulsifying
0 / 0
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
5
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
6
Humectant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Hyaluronic Acid Icon
7
Humectant, Solvent
8
Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
0 / 0
9
10
Buffering, Masking
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
11
Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
BHA IconPreservative IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconGood for Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconHelps fight Acne IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
12
Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
13
Buffering
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
14
Buffering, Masking
15
Masking, Preservative
Preservative Icon
16
Preservative
0 / 0
Preservative IconParaben IconNon-Reef-Safe IconMay worsen Eczema Icon
17
Astringent, Skin Conditioning, Soothing, Tonic
Good for Oily Skin Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 17 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Humectant
Community Rating: Liked

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (GFF) is a yeast traditionally used to make the Japanese alcoholic beverage, sake. GFF has moisturizing and antioxidant properties.

Studies show GFF applied to the skin improves our skin's natural moisturizing factors (NMF). Our NMF consists of many components that naturally moisturize our skin. Having healthy NMF keeps our skin plump, protected, and hydrated.

GFF tells our skin to create more filaggrin, an important component for NMF. Filaggrin gathers all the structural proteins in our outer layer of skin and creates a tight barrier, helping to protect our skin against allergens and bacteria. This also helps prevent moisture loss.

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, GFF also protects our skin against oxidative stress and UV induced inflammation. One study found GFF helped regulate sebum and keratin in participants.

GFF may not be fungal-acne safe. We recommend speaking with a professional if you have concerns.

Many components of sake, such as GFF, are studied for their anti-aging benefits today. This is because sake brewers are known to have youthful hands.

Learn more about Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate
3
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Mixed

Butylene Glycol (or BG) is used within cosmetic products for a few different reasons:

  • It is a solvent, meaning that it helps to dissolve other ingredients. This also enhances the absorption of the product into one's skin.
  • It is a humectant, which means that it helps attract moisture into the skin.
  • It helps improve product application.

Overall, Butylene Glycol is a safe and well-rounded ingredient. It is unlikely to irritate skin, and works well with pretty much all other ingredients.

4
What it does: Emulsifying
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Polysorbate 20 is made by combining ethoxylation of sorbitan, ethylene oxide, and lauric acid. It is a mild cleansing agent, surfactant, and emulsifier.

As a surfactant, it helps collect dirt and oils for washing. Emulsifiers prevent oils and water from separating.

Polysorbate 20 also adds scent to a product. Since it is made using sorbitol, it has a sweet scent. Sorbitol can also be found in fruits such as apples and peaches.

The lauric acid used to create Polysorbate 20 is often derived from coconuts.

Polysorbate 20 may not be fungal acne safe.

Learn more about Polysorbate 20
5
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
6
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Sodium Hyaluronate is hyaluronic acid's salt form. It is commonly derived from the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid.

Like hyaluronic acid, it is great at holding water and acts as a humectant. This makes it a great skin hydrating ingredient.

Sodium Hyaluronate is naturally occurring in our bodies and is mostly found in eye fluid and joints.

These are some other common types of Hyaluronic Acid:

Learn more about Sodium Hyaluronate
7
What it does: Humectant, Solvent
Community Rating: Disliked

We don't have a description for Peg-150.

8
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Masking
Community Rating: Mixed

Cellulose Gum is a water-soluble polymer that comes from cellulose. It is used to change the texture of a product and to help stabilize emulsions.

As an emulsifier, cellulose gum specifically thicken the texture of water-based products.

This ingredient is considered hypoallergenic and non-toxic. Cellulose Gum can be found in cosmetics, food, and other household goods such as paper products.

Learn more about Cellulose Gum
9
What it does:
Community Rating: Disliked

Disodium EDTA plays a role in making products more stable by aiding other preservatives.

It is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes metal ions that may be found in a product.

Disodium EDTA is a salt of edetic acid and is found to be safe in cosmetic ingredients.

Learn more about Disodium EDTA
10
What it does: Buffering, Masking
Community Rating: Disliked

Citric Acid is an AHA derived from citrus fruits (think oranges, lemons, and limes!).

If you spot Citric Acid near the end of an ingredient list, it's likely there as a pH adjuster rather than an active ingredient.

As an AHA, Citric Acid removes the top layer of skin cells from the newer layer of skin underneath. This helps skin to remove dark spots and look more even.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Citric Acid
11
What it does: Masking, Preservative, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Salicylic Acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is one of the most well-known ingredients for treating skin that struggles with blackheads and acne. It helps to exfoliate both the skin's surface and pores, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

This multitasking property makes it a great ingredient for cleaning out pores, controlling oil production, and reducing inflammation.

Unlike AHAs which are water soluble, Salicylic Acid is oil soluble. This means that it's able to exfoliate the inside of pores and reduce blackheads.

Concentrations of 0.5-2% are recognized by the U.S. FDA as an over-the-counter topical acne product.

It can cause irritation and/or dryness if one's skin already has a compromised moisture barrier, so it's best to focus on repairing that before introducing a Salicylic Acid into your routine.

In general, Salicylic Acid is a great ingredient for oily acne-prone skin.

While salicylic acid does not increase sun-sensitivity, we still recommend wearing SPF.

If you are looking for the ingredient called BHA or Butylated Hydroxyanisole, click here.

Learn more about Salicylic Acid
12
What it does: Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Lactic Acid is an AHA that is derived from fermenting lactose, a carbohydrate from milk. It removes the top layer of old and dead skin cells and helps increase cell turnover.

Benefits of Lactic Acid are that it can help to reduce large pores and reduce the effects of aging. Some potential downsides are that it can be bad for dry skin, cause irritation, worsen eczema, and worsen rosacea.

Not only does it help exfoliate the skin, it helps strengthen the skin's barrier. When applied, lactic acid helps the skin create ceramides.

Lactic acid is an over-the-counter chemical exfoliant that comes from the fermentation of lactose β€” a carbohydrate found in milk.

Legend has it that Cleopatra used to bathe in sour milk to help reduce wrinkles.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Lactic Acid
13
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Mixed

Malic Acid is an AHA derived from unripe fruit. The word "Malic" comes from the word "Malum". In Latin, "Malum" means apple.

Malic Acid has both AHA and BHA properties, but is considered an AHA because its AHA properties are stronger. Like other AHAs, it removes the top layer of old and dead skin to reveal the newer layer underneath. It also helps with improving fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, skin texture, and acne blemishes.

Due to its exfoliating properties, you should wear SPF when using Malic Acid.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Malic Acid
14
What it does: Buffering, Masking
Community Rating: Mixed

Sodium Citrate is the sodium salts of citric acid. In skincare, it is used to alter pH levels and acts as a preservative.

Sodium Citrate helps maintain the pH of a product. Normal pH level of skin is slightly acidic (~4.75-5.5). The acidity of our skin is maintained by our glands and skin biome. Being slightly acidic allows our skin to create an "acid mantle". This acid mantle is a thin barrier that protects our skin from bacteria and contaminants.

Sodium Citrate is a chelating agent. It neutralizes metal ions from water and prevents them from binding to other ingredients. This ensures the other ingredients will not be altered.

Learn more about Sodium Citrate
15
What it does: Masking, Preservative
Community Rating: Disliked

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative. It's used in both cosmetic and food products to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. It is typically produced synthetically.

Both the US FDA and EU Health Committee have approved the use of sodium benzoate. In the US, levels of 0.1% (of the total product) are allowed.

Sodium benzoate works as a preservative by inhibiting the growth of bacteria inside of cells. It prevents the cell from fermenting a type of sugar using an enzyme called phosphofructokinase.

Sodium Benzoate is the salt of benzoic acid. Foods containing sodium benzoate include soda, salad dressings, condiments, fruit juices, wines, and snack foods.

Studies for using ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate in cosmetics are lacking, especially in skincare routines with multiple steps.

We always recommend speaking with a professional, such as a dermatologist, if you have any concerns.

Learn more about Sodium Benzoate
16
What it does: Preservative
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Methylparaben is a preservative and is a paraben. It is used to prevent the growth of fungus, mold, and other harmful bacteria. Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in both cosmetics and food.

Methylparaben can be synthetically created. It can also be found naturally in some fruits, such as blueberries.

Oftentimes, Methylparaben is combined with other parabens to help increase the shelf life.

The safety of Methylparaben is currently being studied. While ongoing studies are looking into the safety of parabens, the results have been very mixed. Some studies have not found Methylparaben to be harmful.

Learn more about Methylparaben
17
What it does: Astringent, Skin Conditioning, Soothing, Tonic
Community Rating: Liked

Salix Alba Bark Extract comes from the white willow tree, which is native to Europe and Central Asia.

Salix Alba Bark Extract has often been described as salicylic acid's cousin. This is due to the salicin it contains. However, studies are limited showing salix alba bark to be an effective salicylic acid alternative.

Salicin does have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has shown to decrease the formation of inflammatory mediators, such as tumor necrosis factor-Ξ± and nuclear factor-kappa B. Salicin also has a mildly exfoliating effect on the skin.

Several other components in salix alba bark extract also contain antioxidant properties, such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants may help with anti-aging as they neutralize harmful free-radical molecules.

Willow Bark extract has been used for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations used white willow to help treat pain and fevers.

Learn more about Salix Alba Bark Extract
Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 17 ingredients in this product ✨

41% are loved or liked
24% have mixed ratings
35% are disliked or very disliked
0% have no rating yet

When to use

Here's some more info on how this product is used by our community.

Directions

Wet face lightly, then take a pearl-sized amount of cleanser onto palm.
Work cleanser into a foamy lather with water.
Gently cleanse face and neck, then rinse off with lukewarm water.

Wet face lightly, then take a pearl-sized amount of cleanser onto palm.
Work cleanser into a foamy lather with water.
Gently cleanse face and neck, then rinse off with lukewarm water.

When to use

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