SK-II Product Reviews

So it’s been a while since I first experience more than a week of SK-II in NYC, and then received the SK-II samples from my spa visit. Upon my initial return from vacation, I used all these products consistently for the first week, and now I’m using them intermittently as the supplies dwindle. Here’s my review of the products.

Note: I was not given any incentive to write about these products. Just my honest appraisal of them, from personal experience.

Images are screenshots from SK-II websites

Product: SK-II Cellumination Essence
Purpose: A light creamy ‘serum’ that is supposed to bring great clarity and luminosity to skin.
Supply: Full sized
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I love the super light texture that’s readily absorbed, and it has NO SCENT at all. My skin has a much healthier glow, yay!
Will I buy again?: YES!

Product: SK-II Brightening Derm Moisturizer
Personal rating: 4/5
Why: I found the texture slightly ‘sticky’ compared to Hadalabo Moisture Milk.
Will I buy again?: Not for the price.

Product: SK-II Facial Treatment Repair C
Intensive serum. The ‘C’ stands for “concentrate”, I was told, not Vitamin C.
Personal rating: ?
Why: Honestly I can’t really tell if this did anything for my skin since I used so many other products, though the BFF is a fan of it. I did not remember its effects when I used it in New York.
Will I buy again?: Maybe to replace my Estee Lauder Idealist serum, which was incidentally a gift from the BFF because I used to complain (incorrectly) that all SK-II products smelled bad.

Product: SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Essence
Intensive hydration, “miracle water” that’s supposed to rejuvenate skin.
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I kid you not, whenever I used this product, no matter how tired I feel or how little sleep I got the night before, my skin is positively GLOWING and my skin just looks fresh. I now truly believe why the BFF swears by SK-II: it completely negates the visible consequences of having an extremely demanding job!

Best part is, there’s no awful yeasty smell like the regular SK-II Facial Treatment Essence! 200 times more concentrated than the regular, but less smelly. I really couldn’t ask for more!
Will I buy again?: Oh YES YES and YES, if I were OK with dropping US$250 on a bottle of facial product! So probably not for now. I’ll be sticking to its poor cousin, Hadalabo.

Product: SK-II Brightening Derm Specialist
Full Sized
Whitening serum. Lightweight.
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: Very light unscented serum for spots & pigmentation. It works well, to the extent that the dermatologist that’s overseeing my IPL Photofacial treatments said to stop using it, so that the lasers have good differentiation between dark/light to work!
Will I buy again?: Probably not if my spots go away with IPL. I’ll stick with Cellumination Essence and maybe try the Facial Treatment Repair C for “whole face” use.

And some other products which I tried that weren’t samples from the spa:

Product: SK-II Men’s Moisturizing Cleanser
Facial cleanser with microbeads
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I LOVED THIS!! (Thanks BFF! I forgot to take a picture of the actual product) Cleans without tightness and the microbeads feel so good. But the BFF says I shouldn’t use this because Men’s formulation tend to be harsher. Sulk.
Will I buy again?: Probably not, because for one, it’s not even available in the USA. And well, I should trust my resident skincare/SK-II expert that this could be too harsh for my skin.

Product: SK-II Facial Treatment Gentle Cleanser
Facial cleanser with SK-II facial treatment essence. Skincare while cleansing!
Personal rating: 5/5
Why: I was told to use this instead of the Men’s version (sulk). It lathers to a nice soft foam, cleans without drying and there’s no “tightness” afterwards.
Will I buy again?: Nah. US$70 to wash my face is too rich for my budget, especially when my new fave (“Shiseido’s Perfect Whip”) costs literally 10% of the price!

And… one product I would like to try is: SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion (i.e.: toner).
This was used during my SK-II Spa visit, and I really liked how clean it left my skin feeling, and the blend of AHAs + Pitera sound like it would do good in keeping skin luminous!

But for now, I’m sticking with my cheapie-but-goodie: Neutrogena Alcohol-free Toner!

Overall, I can see the tangible benefits and effects of SK-II, which is really impressive, I must say. I’ve purchased various products over the years – mainly drugstore brands – but have almost never see a product live up to its lavish promises. It is fascinating and amazing that SK-II does.

Yet, on that same note, it is also a billion-dollar brand for a reason. Moving forward, I foresee using a select couple of SK-II products, and, as much as I would like to, I definitely have no intention or ability to switch my entire skincare regime over to their line. Well, unless the MegaMillions are calling my name……

But if you have the means to, I say, go for it! SK-II  products REALLY WORK!

SK-II LXP Ultimate Perfecting Essence

In my previous experience with SK-II, I had found some of their products incredibly unappealing due to the strong Sake smell, and my opinion wasn’t changed in New York either, when I attempted to use my BFF’s Facial Treatment Essence, but again couldn’t bear the smell, so I guiltily washed the very expensive product into the sink.

I conveyed my aversion to the scent of these products to the consultant during my recent visit to the SK-II Boutique Spa in Singapore, and she provided me with samples of their new LXP “Gold” range (endorsed by the gorgeous Elven Queen Galadriel Cate Blanchett), which apparently contains 200 times more Pitera than the regular range, but without the overpowering scent.

That sounded completely counter-intuitive to me, but I wasn’t about to say no to a sample of one of the most expensive skincare brands in the world!


I’ve tried this range for 3 days now, and….. *fortunately/unfortunately, the consultant was right: the LXP Ultimate Perfecting Essence (aka “LXP Ultimate Revival Essence” in the USA, it seems) indeed does NOT have that strong fermented smell, it is also absorbed much more quickly, and well, my skin is starting to look MUCH better.

*Fortunately: Because the products really do work
*Unfortunately: Because the products really do work, am I going to get hooked on SK-II?!

And just in the last couple of days that I’ve been home, my husband has commented about the visible improvement in my skin texture, and I also find that my complexion is less dull, and there’s a soft dewy glow about it. I am especially impressed at how well the products are absorbed into my skin, and I can layer them on without any feeling of greasiness or heaviness. I don’t know if it’s psychological, but each morning when I look in the mirror, I feel as if my skin’s looking better than the previous day.


That said, it’s difficult to completely attribute this improvement solely to SK-II, since I am in a climate that seems to agree more with me, I have been drinking copious amount of water to compensate for 27 hours of air travel, consuming Vitamin C supplements, using facial masks, and generally taking extra good care of my skin (with SK-II products) due to the travel stresses of the past 7 weeks.

I am honestly very thrilled at how good the products feel and what I think might be a really good result, but I’m also worried now that SK-II will work a miracle for me, because, at that point, what do you do about a product that’s amazing, but also very expensive? It’s not something I cannot afford in absolute terms, but relative to the other skincare options out there, do I really want to be spending literally hundreds of dollars on a single product when I can purchase something serving a similar purpose at a fraction of the price?

It’s a tough call. I’ll let these samples run their course, use up my two new serums, and well, maybe if the MegaMillions call my name, I’ll happily stock up on the entire range! But until then, I’ll be mixing these pricey serums with inexpensive drugstore brands.

In-flight Indulgences

I’m still reeling from my 27 hours of travel, but I certainly have many positive things to share about this journey:

I was initially quite dismayed to learn that we had a second stopover, making my journey SIN-ICN / ICN-NRT / NRT-LAX (or, Singapore to Seoul, Seoul to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Los Angeles, if you don’t speak airport code).

However, during our brief stop in Japan where I had about 20 minutes to spare, I chanced upon my new favorite face wash!


They retailed for ¥680 at the airport, or just under US$8, so I snapped up two tubes. I absolutely LOVE the rich, thick, foamy lather, and I imagine it would work splendidly with my Olay Pro-X cleaning brush!

And of course, with Korean Air’s formidable arsenal of in-flight shopping merchandise, I did not leave empty handed. They take in-flight shopping VERY seriously, with stickers for your headrest, lest you miss out!

Despite the protests of my wallet, my vanity succumbed to the allure of SK-II, having used their range of products for a week in NYC with great results, and most recently enjoying a very decadent facial treatment at their boutique spa.

I purchased the Cellumination Essence, and Whitening Spots Specialist, both of which cost $40 less on KoreanAir than if purchased in the US. It’s a huge splurge for me, but they really do seem to work, so I’m going to give it a shot. I can’t say that I will be willing/able to afford the rest of their range, but… oh, the scary slippery slope that is SK-II!

But it’s not all about expensive purchases on the flight. KoreanAir also had these products by Jurlique, and because I absolutely LOVE the fresh scent of lavender, I made many more trips to the bathroom than necessary, just for another spritz of the hydrating mist on my face and for a dab of lotion on my hands.

Flying Trans-Pacific is so much more fun with lovely free toiletries and good deals to be had!

Review: SK-II Spa Singapore

My recent beach-centric vacation has left me with a killer golden tan, but alas, also worsened the pigmentation and freckles on my cheeks. So today, seeking some respite from the hectic visiting of the past week and taking advantage of a $50-off promo for first time customers, I headed over to the newest branch of the SK-II Boutique Spa for some literal face-saving.


I arrived and was warmly welcomed, given a tour of the facility, and served a delicious hot lemongrass tea drink. In Singapore where customer service is often lacking, I certainly had set my expectations pretty low, but I was wrong.

I then spent the next half hour having a skin analysis done, where the consultant seemed genuinely interested in addressing my key concerns, providing patient counsel, and also took time to understand my lifestyle and home skincare regime. I was surprised at how candid she was about what SK-II could and couldn’t do for me, and in discussing other possible aesthetic procedures with a dermatologist, she even offered suggestions on complementary SK-II facial treatments & products.


I found a very cozy SK-II robe cinched with what looked to be a Hermes twillys, and laid down on the truly comfortable “Senzational bed”, covered with a goose-down duvet. Unlike the usual spa beds which are just utilitarian, these beds were indeed fluffy enough for a good night’s sleep. Mmmmmm….


The facial itself was pretty good, including the most painless extraction I ever experienced. The 90 minutes flew by, and I was certainly dismayed to know that it was over.


There was a small vanity area that, surprise surprise, had SK-II cosmetics! I realized that these aren’t even available on the SK-II USA website! There was the powder foundation infused with Cellumination Essence, and also (pictured) is this UV loose powder. Of course, I tried them out, though they didn’t feel any different than regular make-up products.

Ending the session with more lemongrass tea and some cookies which I didn’t try.

I was extremely impressed that my facial therapist was very thorough in the “post-mortem”, answering my myriad of questions on SK-II products, coming up with a detailed home regime plan WITHOUT pushing products on me, and laid out a proposed skincare plan.

My skin was very soft, and for once, the usually enlarged and visible pores around my nose were completely gone. I was shocked, because I never thought that could be possible. There was a definite glow & radiance about my skin, thanks to the copious amount of SK-II products meticulously massaged into my skin.

I was surprised that I even went home with a generous range of samples, which I certainly was thankful for, because, after experiencing some of the wonders of SK-II, I’m seriously considering acquiring some of their products! (OH NO!)

I highly recommend the SK-II Boutique Spa, as a veritable splurge, a decadent indulgence. It’s definitely worth the expense!


Now for the sad part: There’s no SK-II Boutique Spa in Los Angeles! (And if anyone has good facial recommendations in LA, please let me know!)