Everyone is talking about fermented ingredients in skincare. Here’s why (and everything else you need to know).

Thanks to our brand partner, Clinique

As a beauty editor, it seems like every day a fancy new skincare ingredient comes slinking through the beauty streets. 

But here's the thing: not all of them live up to the hype. 

The prime example of a trending ingredient that's actually worth raving about? Fermented beauty ingredients.

While we might know about all the good stuff fermented foods and drinks can do for our health (hey, kombucha), it was only a matter of time before the benefits of fermented ingredients crept its cute way into skincare.

One brand that's trailblazing the fermented ingredients trend? Clinique.

The re-launched Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator — a fifth generation formula of the cult product — features fermented ingredients.

Image: Supplied.

Heard of fermented ingredients in skincare before?

When I spoke to Ida Wong, the vice president of global product development at Clinique, she said that while the power of fermented ingredients in skincare may be just starting to surface, it's something Clinique has been working on for a while. Like, a really long while.

"We've been at the forefront of fermentation technology, studying how to optimise our fermentation blends, its effects on skin and the benefits for 30 plus years," she told Mamamia.

"We tend to do these research projects very quietly and humbly behind the scenes. But in actuality, we have been on this journey of fermentation technology before it was even at the tip of consumers' tongues. Behind the scenes, we were pioneering new technology in this segment."


Intrigued? Excited? Wanna find out more? I sure do.

To dig a little deeper, I also spoke to Clinique's skin experts Dr Tom Mammone, Dr Steven Schnittger and Dr David Orentreich to help breakdown exactly why fermented ingredients are the next big thing in skincare.

Ready? Let's go!

What are fermented ingredients in skincare?

Before we go into the benefits of fermented ingredients in skincare, let's start with looking at the background of what they actually are, shall we? 

The fermentation process involves breaking down the molecular structure of the ingredients in order to increase the effectiveness of nutrients, making them way more concentrated and more easily absorbed by the skin.  

In the case of Clinique, the brand has updated the fan-favourite Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator with a new with an exclusive aloe bio-ferment. 

Image: Clinique.

Made of lactobacillus (we'll get onto this later!), activated aloe water, and responsibly-sourced and certified organic aloe extract powder, this exclusive nutrient-rich ingredient helps infuse skin with moisture. 

How are fermented ingredients actually made?

Well, it all starts with a... bug. Yes, really!

Dr Schnittger, Vice President of Global Microbiology and Fermentation, R&D, said, "Every one of our fermentation processes start with this freeze-dried bug. What this is, is a live organism that's cryogenically frozen."


"All you have to do is add a drop of water to it, and then to streak it onto a petri dish, and you'll get these live cultures — this is called lactobacillus plantarum."


Sounds really science-y, but lactobacillus plantarum is basically a probiotic which is really effective in increasing the skin's moisture content.

"What we do is then grow this up, and put it into a flask," said Dr Schnittger. "From this 500ml flask, it will go to a litre, 100 litres, and then to 1000 litres."

The fermentation grown in these vessels are then added to the product formulation. 

Pretty crazy, huh?

"We do this for all of our products — this migration of steps to scale up," said Dr Schnittger. "Last year, we fermented over 100,000 kilos of active ferment." 


"It's everything from anti-inflammatories to whitening agents, antioxidants and aloe vera — we have ferments for almost all of our products, with all different types of efficacy."

The benefits of fermented ingredients.

So, what exactly are the benefits of fermented ingredients? Specifically, the aloe bio-ferment found in Clinique's Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator formula?  

Good question. Important question.

While a lightweight gel cream might not seem like it would deliver the most powerful punch of hydration, the experts tell me that the aloe vera bio-ferment is an ingredient that really pushes the boundaries of hydration — especially when it comes to collagen production.

Dr Tom Mammone, Vice President of Skin Physiology and Pharmacology, said, "When we were initially looking at the aloe ferment, we discovered that it actually increased the amount of collagen that was in the skin."

"The way we test it is to grow artificial skin in the lab, which we can test for increases both in collagen and other things in the skin. It's very small, but they're very powerful tools for us to understand how much hydration is involved."

What you might not know is that collagen not only helps with skin elasticity, but hydration and strengthening of the skin, too.

"We weigh it in a device called the moisture balance. Basically, this measures how much water content is in it," adds Dr Mammone.

How cool is that?!

Dr Mammone goes on to say, "We found that there's a huge increase in hydration after treatment. And this is largely due to the collagen — meaning more collagen is binding more water, and we have deeper tissue hydration."

"That's what's going to lead to better hydration and overall plumpness of the skin."

Plumper, glowing, hydrated skin for longer? Yes, please.

Image: Supplied


Not only are fermented ingredients more potent and deliver prolonged moisture, but as our experts point out, they're also better suited for sensitive and dry skin. 

Which, as Dr David Orentreich said, is something that is becoming more and more common. 

"Today with mask wearing, increasing skin sensitivity and allergies, dry skin is even more common. Especially in the winter time, when the air is cold, and holds very little moisture."

The aloe ferment in the Moisture Surge 100H Hydrator combined with hardworking ingredients like hyaluronic acid, help to build a stronger skin microbiome and restore balance and stability for optimal skin health.

"This formula has also been tested on not just all skin types but also inclusive of sensitive skin," said Wong. 

"It helps to fortify the skin's barrier, so it's more resilient — it's a true multitasker."

"Combined with hyaluronic acid, our auto replenishing technology and a lot of other amazing hygroscopic ingredients like glycerin, Moisture Surge 100H has been clinically proven to instantly boost skin's hydration by 174 per cent."

Yep. 174 per cent.

"We are taking clinical measurements on the moisture retention level of the skin up to 100 hours," adds Wong. "At the 100 hour mark, you actually wash the face to see how much hydration is retained — and we have statistical significance."

Tried and tested: Clinique's Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator.

So, all of this sounds pretty impressive and all — but how does Clinique's Moisture Surge 100H Auto Replenishing Hydrator actually perform? Does it live up to all these fancy promises and hype?

Well, as someone with persistently dry, flaky and sensitive skin, this product has my name written ALL over it.


Even as a beauty editor, I find it incredibly hard to find a moisturiser that will actually keep my skin comfortable and hydrated for more than, like, a couple of hours. So, I was a little more than intrigued to see if it would actually live up to the hype. 

Now, just to give you some background, I'm usually a fan of thicker, denser moisturisers. So my first impression of this product was that it might be too lightweight for my skin. 

But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The feeling of hydration is instant. From first use my skin felt softer, smoother and more comfortable.

Image: Supplied

After using this moisturiser morning and night for a couple of weeks, I could feel a massive improvement in my skin's texture and hydration. 

The persistent dry patches on my forehead were completely gone, and my skin looked and felt healthier, happier and more radiant.

Yep, she's a real overachiever.

One of the things I enjoyed most? How this formula felt on my skin — it was like pure silk. It didn't feel gross and sticky post-application, like most other moisturisers do. It also sat beautifully under makeup and SPF, which was another massive plus.

Will I be adding this to my regular skincare routine? I'd be mad not to.

Get your hands on the newly upgraded and re-launched Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator here.

Feature image: Supplied/Mamamia.

Want plump, glowing and hydrated skin for 100 hours? Moisture Surge 100H Hydrator is an oil-free gel-cream moisturiser with exclusive aloe bio-ferment and hyaluronic acid that penetrates deep into skin’s surface— for hydration that goes over 10 layers deep* and lasts for 100 hours, even after washing your face. Life proof hydration with Clinique's Moisture Surge 100H *Into skin's surface; in vitro testing after 30 minutes