The Ordinary’s Guide to Ferments

Test tubes and beakers
Welcome to the ingredient deep dive where we shine a light on some of our more popular skincare ingredients. In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at skincare Ferments and why we’re starting to explore their benefits more and more.

What is Fermentation?

Ferment swatch
When we think of the benefits of fermentation, we often think of gut health. But did you know that fermented ingredients can also benefit your skin?

Fermentation is a metabolic process that breaks down ingredients to alter them or make something entirely new. Take fermented foods, for example. Cabbage is fermented to create sauerkraut, while grapes are fermented by yeast to make wine. Skincare ferments are now becoming popular worldwide - and for good reason. These fermented formulas take ingredients and break them down into new components that create new, effective skincare ingredients.

The Benefits of Skincare Ferments

Our chemists have been exploring the use of fermented and fermentation-derived processes at our in-house lab for quite some time. We see value in the innovative ability to utilize engineered microorganisms to expand our ingredient sources and find innovative ways to synthesize different materials.

We’ve recently harnessed the power of ferments in our Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner. One of the ingredients is N-acetylglucosamine (NAG), a naturally occurring amino sugar. Before being added to a broth for fermentation with Saccharomyces, NAG is produced through biotechnology—in a process that involves bacterial fermentation to manufacture the NAG molecules. Another molecule that is produced through the fermentation of sugar cane that’s used in many of our products, like the Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner, is Squalane. We often use Squalane for its effective hydrating benefits and its ability to mimic your skin’s natural oils.
Ferment Infographic
Ferment Infographic 2
Some fermented ingredients can also provide gentle exfoliation, which is ideal if you have dry and sensitive skin. Our Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner, for example, offers a non-acid exfoliating solution that works in two ways. First, the yeast-fermented NAG encourages surface exfoliation and smooths uneven skin texture. Secondly, it contains Squalane to help support the skin’s moisture barrier. Together, these active ingredients gently exfoliate while providing instant and all-day hydration

How to Add Ferments to Your Skincare Regimen

Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner swatch
Unlike harsher toners or exfoliants, Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner is gentle enough to be applied twice a day—even to sensitive skin. To incorporate Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner into your skincare routine, let’s look at The Ordinary’s simple three-step regimen of Prep, Treat, and Seal and see how to integrate into your skin cleansing.
  • The Prep Step is where we cleanse our skin, preparing it to receive other products. This is the time to add Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner into your regimen, before applying other treatments. To prevent over-exfoliation, we do not recommend applying this product with other exfoliating formulas, such as direct acids or physical exfoliators.

  • The Treat Step is where we target specific skin concerns using products like water-based serums, emulsions, oils, or suspensions.

  • The Seal Step locks in all the treatments and supports the skin barrier to keep moisture locked in. This is where we apply moisturizer and SPF.
Person applying Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner to skin

Our Journey with Skin Ferments Continues

Our exploration with ferments doesn’t stop here. We’re excited to explore the science of fermentation and find innovative ways to work with engineered microorganisms and incorporate their effective benefits into our products.

Explore our ferment skincare products here.
Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner splash
Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner

Saccharomyces Ferment 30% Milky Toner