Could it be the lights? The make-up and airbrushing? Take a closer look at the A-list women who are revealing their secret to high- definition, flawless skin. By Li Ying Lim.
Kate Bosworth, Kaori Momoi, and Soo-Jung Lim share their journey to crystal-clear skin with SK-II
Every woman has her own story to tell when it comes to discovering beauty secrets. For veteran Japanese actress Kaori Momoi, who is best known internationally for her role as Ziyi Zhang’s mama-san in Memoirs of a Geisha, it all started in the heat. “I was sent on a location shoot out in the Saharan desert for two months when I was 25 years old.” Ensconced now in a St. Regis hotel suite stylishly decked out in creamy beige in Osaka, Japan, 61-year-old Momoi recounts the experience in Africa, where the water came from such a dubious source it caused her to break out in spots. “My make-up artist, Aogi-san, recommended SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, and it was right there in the desert climate that I experienced its actual powers. In those two months, there was no sunburn, no skin trouble caused by UV damage or anything like that. That was how I started using SK-II, and I have been a genuine user since then.”
THE GOLD STANDARD
It has been 36 years and counting for Momoi, and hers is not the only testimony of SK-II’s powerful transformations. Millions of women all over the world have been touched by this miracle. The original Facial Treatment Essence contains over 90 percent Pitera, the secret ingredient responsible for unveiling beautiful skin, and continues to be hailed as the Miracle Water.
This huge success began in the 1970s, when the beauty industry first found something amiss with the technology of the time. SK-II scientists, then working with Max Factor Laboratories, set out with the tall order to find a skincare ingredient that surpassed the existing juggernauts. “Instead of combining usual ingredients, we wanted to find a new one that nourished the skin. We started researching on everything said to be good, from Chinese herbs to Japanese medicine to hot spring water,” explains Takashi Yoshii, leader of the original Pitera research team, lovingly known as the Father of Pitera among SK-II scientists.
The team searched high and low for something more powerful that had yet to be discovered. Finally, they stumbled upon some toji – otherwise known as sake brewers – whose hands were baby smooth and so refined, “despite their wrinkled faces,” laughs Yoshii.
The rest, as they say, is history. Armed with a firm belief that the secret formula lay in the fermentation process, the research team followed up with experiments involving fermentations of sake, bread, and wine to find the best and safest method.
“After years of research, we finally managed to isolate Pitera from a single rare yeast strain out of over 350 different types,” says Yoshii. “We had found something special.”
Special, and more than just another “superfood” hype, for sure. Though the brand is known for its quintessentially Japanese origins, SK-II is celebrating thirty years of crystal clarity with a legion of fans from all over the world, including Malaysia. Here, the brand turns fifteen this year with Malaysian actress-singer-model-entrepreneur Sinje Lee as its instantly recognisable face. The Miracle success stories are truly international, and SK-II has many worldwide faces in its stable now to show for it.
Hollywood actress and fashion plate Kate Bosworth has joined the family in recent years. “It’s a great brand to have on a journey with you, in terms of age and location,” smiles Bosworth.
Fresh off the plane from wrapping up her latest film, directed by talented fiancé Michael Polish, the lithe actress’s alabaster skin was positively glowing all throughout the press junket, from visits to the sake brewery with Yoshii- san to the labs in the Kobe Innovation Centre. “There’s a great amount of truth to the company that I was impressed with from the start.”
She recalls the moment that first sparked her relationship with SK-II. “I was familiar with Cate Blanchett’s relationship with the brand, and she’s someone who I admire in all aspects as an artist, a mother, and how she clearly takes care of herself.”
When the beauty giant approached her, she was already an avid user of SK-II. “The first question that they asked was if I used the products. It sounds like it should be Korean actress Soo-Jung Lim of All About My Wife fame has been using SK-II religiously for two years now, and is equally enthusiastic about the brand. “One of the most important things for a Korean woman is to look not just beautiful, but also younger, so we are investing a lot of time into finding good products,” says the awardwinning beauty, who looks perfectly svelte in a scarlet dress during the press conference. “The brand has allowed me to transform into a more beautiful person. It’s not just about the skin but my lifestyle overall.”
Improvements in texture, radiance, firmness, spot control, wrinkle reduction, and resilience are all well and good for the record but SK-II goes beyond the number one question but it often isn’t, because some brands, they just want to put a famous face on their product.”
that as a purveyor of true beauty. It is that life-changing ability and solid nature of the brand’s roots that gain SK-II a unique foothold in the lives and milestones of so many women.
“In Japan, SK-II is perceived as a brand that inspires working women and supports them to pursue their career. We have a tendency to be sidelined when we are older, but now even an 84-year-old lady will still look beautiful,” quips Momoi, who credits a laidback lifestyle (“I eat what I want to eat, and I don’t do anything I don’t like to do.”) and four relaxing sauna sessions a week for her ever-youthful complexion.
For Bosworth, the cultural link between SK-II and Japan plays up a certain allure. “There’s such a beautiful grace to this culture that I admire so much. Coming from America, it’s just very calm and graceful. I am attracted to intellect, to that sense of real calm, that sense of self.”
And Lim sums it up with a thoughtful smile: “You know how people desire to look younger? Well, looking your best at your age is, to me, the most beautiful thing.”
SK- II Facial Treatment Essence, RM219 ( 75ml)
Soo- Jung Lim at the Kobe Innovation Centre with Taro Yamaguchi, scientifi c communications manager of SK- II