CELEBRITY ODYSSEY

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.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

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.”

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL SCENE

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.”

FACE VALUE

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)

Kate Bos­worth

Soo- Jung Lim at the Kobe In­no­va­tion Cen­tre with Taro Ya­m­aguchi, sci­en­tifi c com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager of SK- II

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