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?
One of the most important benefits of sake for beauty is that itcontains kojic acid, an antioxidant that brightens the skin by inhibiting melanin production. Kojic acid is known for its gentle properties, but don’t be fooled - it can penetrate down past the dermis to do its best work. Overtime, its application can help correct discoloration, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, age spots, acne scars, and skin texture. Kojic acid is a natural alternative to the notorious hydroquinone, and it’s what makes sake a superstar bihaku ingredient!
2. 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.
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! For an at-home spa treatment, we recommend using the Clear Turn Beautiful Skin Artisan Japanese Sake Moisturizing Mask to hydrate and moisturize the skin.
The Clear Turn Beautiful Skin Artisan Japanese Sake Moisturizing Mask is formulated with sake and natural Japanese hot spring water, to hydrate and moisturize the skin. This mask is a soft hand-made material similar to traditional Japanese washi paper.
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. If that wasn’t enough, sake also contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), fruit acids that are well-known in the skincare world for their usage in chemical peels and other exfoliating products. AHAs are the go-to for unclogging blocked pores, minimizing fine lines, and reducing the appearance of enlarged pores. Although they help to shed dead skin cells, AHAs are suited to normal and dry skin types due to their moisturizing properties and ability to stimulate collagen production.
Hakutsuru Handmade Daiginjo Facial Cleansing Soap is made with pure rice Daiginjo sake. The dipotassium glycyrrhizinate gently cleanses the skin and helps prevent breakouts and dry skin. This soap helps protect the natural moisture of the skin while smoothing the skin’s texture.
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. If you're looking for a cleanser that helps with anti-aging, we recommend Mutenka Sekken Kobe Sake Cold Process Soap.
Handmade by artisans in Hyogo, Japan, the Mutenka Sekken Kobe Sake Cold Process Soap is handcrafted with Japanese sake extracts derived from rice to help soothe and moisturize the skin for a more radiant complexion. Japanese sake is rich in anti-aging amino acids and helps to hydrate and brighten the skin.
Alpha ethyl α-D-glucoside aka α-EG is a natural compound and byproduct formed during the sake fermentation process that may benefit the skin. It is said to improve the skin’s natural glow and elasticity since it encourages the production of collagen, a protein that gives your skin a plump, youthful look but dwindles overtime as we get older. Alpha ethyl α-D-glucoside may also play a role in preventing water loss from the skin, helping it retain moisture and protecting it from becoming dry, rough, or irritated.
If you’ve already tried sake-infused products and your skin loved it, you’ll want to check out the rice wine’s overshadowed sister and solid counterpart sake lees. The leftover filtered residue from sake production, sake lees or sake kasu contains abundant vitamins, enzymes, and nutrients and is considered a health food in Japanese cuisine. Much like sake, sake lees is known for its beautifying properties and is found in a variety of Japanese cosmetics.
For those looking for a sake lees based regimen, Beauty brand EDOBIO has released an entire skincare collection devoted to the ingredient. EDOBIO’s sake lees is additionally fermented with BiProGe lactic acid bacteria, which enhances the ingredient’s moisturizing, brightening, and texture refining capabilities. The collection features a rinse-off Radiance Booster Mask, Fresh Balancing Toner, Intensive Hydration Serum, and overnight Glowing Night Gel Mask, all of which are formulated with sake lees. For those new to sake lees, we suggest starting out with the EDOBIO Essential Beauty Box. The box includes minis of all the brand’s mainstays, along with a foaming net and travel size of their bestselling Floradiance Moisturizing Souffle Soap.
SHOP: Radiance Booster Mask
SHOP: Fresh Balancing Toner
The skincare benefits of sake are pretty incredible, with rice wine products 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!