Sake Extract: An Exotic Ingredient for Skin Care

How a fermented alcohol is used for skin care

Credits: Lil' Dee at flickr
Tammy Wu
Edited By:
Raja Sivamani , MD, MS, AP

Sake, or Japanese rice wine, has been a part of the Japanese culture for around 2000 years.  This alcoholic beverage is often served chilled, hot, or at room temperature according to the person’s preference, making it a beverage suitable for all seasons. Sake is made by fermenting rice and making sake is actually a very hands-on process. If you ever have the chance to visit a sake-making factory, take a look at the hands of the workers inside. No matter the age of the workers, it would not be surprising to see light, smooth, and porcelain-looking hands. Isn’t this so fascinating? This is actually what sparked the curiosity of many scientists into looking to uncovering the secrets of sake.


What Is in Sake?

Sake consists of many beneficial compounds, various enzymes, amino acids, and glucosylglycerols.  The glucosylglycerols found in sake extract were found to hydrate the skin

Kojic Acid

It also contains kojic acid, a product of the sake fermentation process, which serves to provide whitening properties. Sake extract can also help heal the damaged skin caused by UVB irradiation.  Those with dark spots or those who are often under the sun might want to give it a try, though more tests are need on human skin to confirm its effectiveness. 


A study showed that sake contained a compound known as alpha-D-glucosylglycerol that helped with the skin’s elasticity after religiously applying a skincare product with that compound twice daily for 14 days. 

Ethyl alpha-D-glucoside

Ethyl alpha-D-glucoside is another natural compound in sake that may benefit the skin. Studies in laboratory cells show that it can reduce the production of the skin’s pigment molecule and a study in mice showed that skin application can bolster the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier. More studies are needed to see if it can truly lighten the skin but the early results are promising. That is not all.  It can also increase fibroblast (a type of skin cell) ability to produce collagen (both type 1 and type 3 collagen). Collagens are typically produced to help with wound healing but collagen production may help with skin lines too. These studies are in animals or cells, and future studies in humans will give us a good idea of how well they work on our skin.


Products Containing Sake Extract

Boscia Sake Hydrating and Brightening Essence

My Beauty Diary Sake Yeast Mask

Skinfood Peach Sake Pore Serum

Skinfood Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence


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