Beauty · Reviews · skincare · Uncategorized

Review // SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion & SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

For the longest time, SK-II’s products have been on my must-try list, yet I could never bear splurging on them. I do believe in skincare as an investment, but I’ve never subscribed to the idea that just because something is more luxurious means it’s any more effective than other tried and tested brands on my skin (no matter how cheap they may be) that have become my holy grail. Although it’s normal for me to treat myself and buy a bottle or two of skincare (or makeup) every now and then, I don’t think I could ever justify a $179 bottle of essence, even with all the rave reviews.

I never thought I’d be able to try these products until my sister came home from a stressful business trip and decided to buy the set as a sort of gift for herself.

I waited for a month of consistent use of these products before writing the review. I used only the Lotion for the first month, then on the 2nd month, I used it together with the Essence.

The Story

SKII started at a sake brewery when scientists discovered that the elderly workers, despite their wrinkled face, had incredibly beautiful and soft hands, that was caused by frequent contact with the sake fermentation process. Eventually they realized that it was due to a miracle ingredient called Pitera (aka Galactomyces), a natural occurring liquid from the fermentation process, that’s a unique blend of vitamins, amino acids and minerals, that can help strip off the outer layer of skin to reveal newly rejuvenated, youthful skin. I found this story very interesting and made me a whole lot more curious if this stuff actually works.

SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion


What it is:
A hydrating toner that removes impurities and exfoliates your skin, to complete your cleansing ritual.

Solutions for:
– Pores
– Dullness and uneven texture
– Uneven skin tone

If you want to know more…
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion is a face toner that removes impurities and diminishes the appearance of pores after cleansing, while still giving your skin the hydration it needs. The silky formula promotes a healthy skin environment, which acts as a base for your skincare regimen.

This toner is crafted with a mix of AHA and Pitera™—an exclusive SK-II ingredient containing vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids—to exfoliate while conditioning the skin. It cleans pores, while gently clearing away dead skin cells and impurities, prepping skin for the next stage of your beauty routine. With a refreshingly light and watery texture that absorbs instantly, Facial Treatment Clear Lotion is the final step in your cleansing ritual, and lets you achieve radiant, youthful-looking skin


The product comes inside a heavy glass bottle with a twist lid. The packaging is very premium but also simple, convenient, and practical.


This product is basically a toner, although Japanese skincare uses the word “lotion” instead — so when you see products in Japan called lotion, those are actually toners! Which is why this comes in a very watery consistency like any other toner. It’s clear and very thin and absorbs into the skin very fast.

Application & Experience

I put a few drops of product into a cotton pad and use that to spread into my face. Afterwards, I squeeze out excess product from the cotton pad and pat that all over my face. Since it’s suuuper expensive, I don’t want to put any product to waste at all & make sure I use up everything 😂

The first 2 weeks of using this, bumps actually started appearing on my skin ☹️ I read up and found out that getting breakouts during the first few weeks is pretty normal because it reveals the impurities and dirt of the skin, then finally reveals the “new” skin afterwards.

I decided to give it more time and kept using it consistently, until the bumps started to disappear and my skin cleared up again, probably at the 4th week. In terms of hydration and effectiveness as a toner to clean and prep my skin, I had no problems. It’s not drying at all, like other tones I’ve used, and I think it does a great job to make my skin ready for the next step of skincare, and it’s helped a lot in absorbing other products like serums and moisturizers.

I was waiting for that brightening, radiant, and glowing effect that’s promised by their star ingredient, Pitera, which is their trademarked name for Galactomyces, but I didn’t see it. After a month of using this, I finally decided to use it together with the Essence to see if that would garner better results.


I really couldn’t stand the scent of this at first because it smelled a bit sour, like vinegar? It’s not a scent that one associates to skincare, but I had to bear with it because this bottle is damn expensive. When you do get used to it, you sort of get immune to the smell and it turns out it’s not as unpleasant as you thought it was. Still, I would’ve preferred it odorless, so maybe they could’ve added something to mask the natural smell of Pitera.


This product works but it was very underwhelming. I expected a lot more out of it because of the price and rave reviews. It’s a great toner and does the job well, but I wanted to see the added benefits, such as brightening and radiance. It isn’t extraordinary enough for me to repurchase, and the hefty price tag is not very encouraging either.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

What it is:
An award-winning signature essence that moisturizes and brightens, revealing youthful-looking, radiant skin.

Solutions for:
– Dullness and uneven texture
– Loss of firmness and elasticity
– Uneven skin tone

If you want to know more…
Facial Treatment Essence, SK-II’s signature product, has a formula that has remained unchanged for nearly 40 years. This coveted essence combines the power of nature with advanced technology to benefit the overall appearance of skin. Facial Treatment Essence is a pure, lightweight liquid made of 90 percent Pitera™—a bio-ingredient rich in vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and amino acids that work together to support skin cell renewal. With powerful anti-aging and hydrating properties, Pitera is a miracle ingredient that is exclusive to SK-II.

This essence refines the look of pores for smoother skin texture. It hydrates skin to support its elasticity and resistance to wrinkles. It also works over time to diminish the look of dark spots and uneven skin tone. In as little as 14 days, skin looks visibly smoother, firmer, and more radiant.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
– Sulfates

What else you need to know:
SK-II is one of the most trusted and bestselling skincare brands in Asia, and is quickly becoming a must-have among beauty experts in North America. Facial Treatment Essence is SK-II’s bestselling product and a staple in many Asian beauty regimens. Essences are clear liquids rich in active ingredients and light in consistency. Designed for maximum hydration, brightening, and smoothing of the skin, SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence was among the first in this new skin care category. The lightweight formula allows for faster absorption and higher penetration as compared to traditional creams and moisturizers, and Facial Treatment Essence is the only beauty essence made up of more than 90 percent Pitera.

It is fragrance-free, colorant-free, and not tested on animals.


Like the toner, this comes inside a heavy glass container. It’s actually easy to mix up the 2 products except the color of the formula is a bit more yellow compared to the transparent lotion/toner.


Like the lotion, this comes in a very watery consistency, which is why it’s frequently dubbed as “miracle water” by so many celebrities and influencers. Its liquid formula makes it somewhat a placeholder for a toner, but unlike toners where I worry a lot about potential breakouts, this one is SO gentle and so safe for sensitive skin. Its lightweight texture also absorbs very fast into the skin, and leaves no residue.

Application & Experience

Since this product contains 90% of Pitera (the most content for any SKII product), I decided to use my own hands and skip a cotton for this. I pour a few drops into my hand and pat it directly to my face. I found that this experience also feels so much more satisfying and it feels as if more product is absorbed into my skin.

Unlike the toner, I had zero breakouts with this product, and effects were very immediate. My skin looked a lot clearer, and more “cloudless”. Sebum production felt a lot more controlled and there was less tendency to oil up throughout the day. Overall, my skin looked and felt perfectly balanced.

For the first 2 weeks of using this product with the Lotion, I noticed a lovely glow and I had friends point it out as well! However, the longer I used it, my skin normalized and I couldn’t see the glow anymore. My skin still looked clear and felt hydrated, but I just couldn’t see the lasting power of radiance this supposedly claimed.


It has the same scent as the Lotion, but since I was already used to it, I was unbothered throughout the whole time using this product.


This product worked wonders for me more than the Lotion. Since it contains the greatest percentage of Pitera, the effectivity of this is much higher and more visible. I would recommend this so much to people with sensitive and dry/oily skin because it really does the job and helps improve skin condition so much.

My only qualms about this is that it didn’t really provide a lasting radiant effect on my skin. It addressed all other problem areas and provided much needed hydration, suppleness, and balance, but not much lasting brightening effect, and this is supposedly the main promise/benefit of its star ingredient. I’m not sure how it would fare if I continuously use it until about a year or so, or until the bottle runs out. But for now, I probably wouldn’t repurchase it because it wasn’t exactly miraculously or extraordinarily amazing — I could get the same results from other skincare brands — but that could change if I see something different come out of it in a few more months.

For people who have never tried SKII though and are only willing to try 1 item, I would definitely recommend this Essence. I’m sure it probably works better for others, and maybe I’m still too young to use it to actually get the maximum results it offers.

Overall, I find SKII kind of overhyped and kind of underwhelming? It was good, but I expected so much more from it especially with its miracle claims and the brand being very premium. I will definitely not repurchase because it’s just not worth it for a broke ass person like me. I’ll probably look into dupes or other brands that can give the same benefits with a more friendly price tag.


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