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Industry Personal care
Founded 1980
Headquarters Japan
Area served
Products Cosmetics and beauty products
Parent Procter & Gamble

SK-II (pronounced S-K-Two) is a Japanese cosmetics brand launched in the early 1980s based on a compound derived from yeast. It is owned by parent company Procter & Gamble (P&G) and is sold and marketed as a premium skin care solution in East Asia as well as North America, Europe and Australia.


SK-II was developed in the 1970s by Japanese scientists investigating the use of more naturally derived ingredients after it was observed that elderly workers at a sake brewery had smooth, clear and young-looking hands from years of submerging them in the fermented yeast. A yeast extract that the company calls pitera was eventually isolated for cosmetic use and the brand was launched in the early 1980s.[1][2] P&G acquired the brand with its purchase of Max Factor in 1991 and expanded its sale from Japan to Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, in 2000 to the UK, and subsequently to the US, restricting initial sales to a few high-end stores where "consultants" introduced customers to the brand.[1][2] As of 2018 it is also sold in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, and Thailand.[3]

Brand ambassadors and spokespersons

The brand is promoted by professional actresses such as Tang Wei, Haruka Ayase, Ni Ni and Kasumi Arimura.[4] Japanese actress Kaori Momoi is one of the longest running of these; she is said to have been using SK-II products for more than 20 years.[5] In the UK, Stella Tennant was the brand spokesperson in the early 2000s.[1]

In 2017, SK-II paid several social influencers including supermodel Behati Prinsloo,[6] K-Pop singer Choi Soo Young and fashion icon Chiara Ferragni to promote the brand.[7]

In 2018, the company hired several celebrities for an advertising campaign, including Chloe Grace Moretz, Chun Xia, Teng Wei, and Mayu Matsuoka.[8]

Controversies in China

In April 2005, P&G agreed to pay a 200,000 yuan fine after a customer in China alleged inaccurate advertising of an SK-II product and that it had caused an allergic reaction.[9] In September 2006, traces of neodymium and chromium were found in SK-II products sold in China. Both are banned in cosmetics, and can cause allergic dermatitis and eczema. P&G China withdrew several products, while requiring consumers to sign a "safe product" agreement releasing P&G from liability in order to return those they had bought.[10] By the end of that week, P&G had suspended sales of the brand altogether in China and closed its sales counters there, instituting a hotline for refund applications.[11][12][13] SK-II sales were also suspended for approximately two weeks in South Korea, resuming after authorities announced the products were safe.[14] P&G announced it would resume selling the products in China in late 2006.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Jack Neff (2003-04-07). "P&G to launch SK-II in U.S". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2018-08-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Birth of an Icon: SK-II". Procter & Gamble. 2012-11-26. 
  3. ^ Procter & Gamble. "SK-II" (PDF) (press release). Retrieved 2018-08-17. 
  4. ^ "Style Icons Team Up To Face World's Toughest Environments". HuffPost UK. 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  5. ^ "Beauty defined". Toronto Star. 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  6. ^ "How Behati Prinsloo-Levine keeps her skin glowing". The Beauty Gazette. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  7. ^ Rachel Strugatz (2017-04-18). "Skin care brand SK-II, National Geographic create blockbuster digital campaign featuring Chiara Ferragni". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2018-05-17 – via Los Angeles Times. 
  8. ^ "Watch Chloe Grace Moretz Hit a Red Carpet Makeup-Free!". Us Weekly. 2018-06-29. Retrieved 2018-08-31. 
  9. ^ Normandy Madden (2005-04-25). "P&G to pay fine over SK-II in China". Advertising Age. Retrieved 2018-06-25. 
  10. ^ "China to halt imports of SK-II if problems show up again". China View. 2006-09-21. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07 – via Newsgd. 
  11. ^ "P&G halts sale of SK-II in China". China Daily. AP/Xinhua. 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2018-06-25. 
  12. ^ Mei Fong; Loretta Chao (2006-09-25). "P&G Stumbles in China". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2018-06-25. 
  13. ^ Kineta Hung; Richard Farmer (2008-01-11). Case Study: SK-II: Damage Control in China. Harvard Business Review. 
  14. ^ a b "P&G to resume SK-II China sales in early December". Reuters. 2007-01-19 [2006-11-15]. Retrieved 2018-06-25. 

External links