Where I bought it: Ebay
Brand: Secret Key
Functions: Whitening, Wrinkle improvement, Even skin tone
Highlights: 90% pitera content
Consistency: Liquid toner
In the 1970s, a scientist in Japan noticed soft and youthful hands of women who worked in a Japanese saké brewery. After years of research, scientists are able to isolate the natural and nutrient-rich liquid. They called it Pitera (Sources: SK-II).
Pitera: The Secret
"Derived from a unique yeast's fermentation, Pitera is a blend of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids that work together to allow the skin's natural surface rejuvenation process to function at its prime, enhancing the renewal of the skin's outer layer. Continued usage of Pitera leads to clearer looking, smoother skin" (SK-II).
Pitera in the world
Pitera is widely used popularly in Asia. You might have even heard it before from a specific brand named SK-II. Most of the information on Pitera can be found on their website. It's a cult brand in Western societies that costs from a hundred dollars for a bottle of the essence. Futurederm, one of my favourite blogs, has found that there is very limited research to support the claims regarding pitera. Most research has only found that pitera has great moisturizing properties. This is something to keep in mind. Research regarding this ingredient is still relatively new, and more studies are being conducted. Don't forget that it's a staple product in Asia and that its reviews and raves make up for most of the lack of research.
SK-II vs. Secret Key
SK-II is more popular and known than Secret Key. It is also more expensive. I bought my Secret Key for around $26 USD. SK2 used to stand for "Secret Key" so it is quite obvious that Secret Key copied SK2. Even the packaging and font on the bottle is similar. I like to think of Secret Key as an affordable "dupe" of SK2. They even improved their formula to incorporate the 7 free system.
No Paraben, Mineral Oil, Benzophenone, Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Pigment, Synthetic perfume
SK-2's formula contains paraben. Some people aren't too concerned about paraben. When formulated correctly, it does not create any problems. Some products from gentle brands such as Cetaphil and Cerave products contain paraben. Paraben is an ingredient that various skin react to differently. For acne prone and rosacea skin specifically, I would be more careful about paraben clogging pores & irritating the skin.
I have not owned SK-II so I can't compare the two products. This review only be on Secret Key.
I use the Starting Treatment Essence similarly to a toner. I prefer not to use cotton pads. I like to tilt the bottle to the palm of my hands and pat it gently all over my face. I use a generous amount of product so I have extra to pat on my neck. I use this after cleansing twice a day in the morning and the night time.
The product absorbs quickly so you have to work faster than you normally would with ordinary toners. It does not leave a sticky feeling, which is great. Some people might be put off by the rice wine smell. I assure you that there is no alcohol in the product. I've seen lots of reviews question whether there is alcohol due to the smell. Secret Key's 7 free system includes alcohol, so you don't have to worry about it irritating your skin or drying it out. If you are sensitive to scents or picky about the smell, this is something to keep in mind.
I'm currently using differin (an adapalene gel retinoid) for my acne. I also use acne.org 10% benzoyl peroxide for spot treating. These acne products dry out my skin from its normal state (which is usually oily combo). I don't have active acne right now, but I am extremely acne-prone. This routine with my acne products help me keep my skin under control.
The Secret Key rejuvenates my skin. It makes it look healthy. The most important thing I found about this product is that it normalizes my skin. There is less redness and my skin tone has slightly improved. I don't have very uneven skin to begin with, but it definitely brightens up my face.
I can't comment on its hyper-pigmentation diminishing properties yet. I haven't used the essence long enough as I've only had it a couple weeks.
Repurchase? Yes! Definitely. This has become my HG product.
Recommend? I recommend this to all skin types. I can see how it can benefit dry skin with its hydrating properties. Oilier skins will also benefit with its normalizing properties. If you wanted to give SK-II a try but don't want to dish the cash, Secret Key is a great alternative.
Will you try SK-II? I would love to give SK-II a try if I received it as a present or sample. I don't think I will buy the product because Secret Key works so well and I am concerned about paraben in SK-II due to my skin type.
If there is anything else you would like to know, comment or let me know! I will make an update on this post after using Secret Key for a couple months.