You’ve probably never thought the answer to beautiful skin was eyeing you from across the bar. You might be familiar with sake from sushi nights and sake bombing, but we’re guessing rice wine hasn’t quite found its way into your bathroom vanity – yet.
Although sake is best known as the national alcoholic beverage of Japan, it also has a long history in skincare and beauty. Sake aka “Nihonshu” production is estimated to have begun around 300 AD. Over the years, sake caught the attention of Japanese scientists as a potent skincare ingredient. They found that Toji, the master brewers of sake, retained smooth, baby-soft hands way into their old age, since they so frequently submerged their hands in fermented rice during the brewing process. This turn-back-time effect is partially attributed to koji, a cultured grain that helps to ferment the rice. Fermentation alters the molecular structure and increases the nutritional value of food, making it significantly higher in vitamins, enzymes, peptides, and probiotics than if it wasn’t fermented.
But it didn’t take the Japanese long to catch on to the beautifying properties of sake. Well before modern science, even the geisha used sake as a lotion to plump, soften, brighten and hydrate the skin. Let’s take a look at what makes sake an attractive multi-tasking skin savior.
How can sake help your skin?
- Brightening: Sake contains kojic acid, which brightens the skin by inhibiting melanin production. Kojic acid is a gentle yet effective bihaku ingredient, and can help to correct discoloration, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, age spots, acne scars, and even out skin tone and texture.
- Acne Prevention: Sake not only helps lighten acne scars, but it works to stop acne in its tracks before a breakout. As a natural astringent, sake helps to control sebum production, tighten the skin and minimize the appearance of pores.
- Hydration: Sake is included in many beauty products in Japan due to its high amino acid and glycerol content. You would think that as an alcohol, sake might dry out your skin, but on the contrary, amino acids such as glutamic acid help to retain moisture and prevent it from evaporating from your skin. No wonder the geisha used to soak their entire bodies in sake-filled baths!
- Smoothing: Sake is rich in enzymes that gently exfoliate the top layer of the skin, without stripping the skin of moisture. The high concentration of amino acids and saccharides also help to smoothen out uneven skin texture, maintain elasticity and replenish the skin of nutrients.
- Anti-aging: Apart from the amino acids that also triple as anti-aging heroes, sake also contains ferulic acid, an antioxidant that acts as a UV light absorber and helps to shield the skin from sun damage. By neutralizing free-radical damage, ferulic acid can aid in reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and spots.
The skincare benefits of sake are pretty incredible, with the rice wine bringing something to the table for everyone, no matter skin type or concern. So slather it on, raise a glass, and kanpai to your skin’s happiest hour!