Review: Secret Key – Starting Treatment Rose Essence

Where to purchase: Available on Yesstyle: HERE Discount Code: CVQFZA

Price: £ 24.24

Volume: 150ml

Made in: South Korea

What is it?: A Skin brightening Essence containing 94% Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate + Rose Water.

What does it do: This is supposedly anti-ageing + brightening and also provides antioxidant properties. This also aims to moisturise + soften the skin. The main job of this product is to prep the skin (soak/saturate the skin) so that the the skin can absorb the next product in one’s routine.

Supposedly Good for: Supposed to whiten and brighten the skin as well as help with skin elasticity.

For: All Skin Types

What I think: I think this would suit Dehydrated + Oily skins due to how watery + thin this product’s texture is. But in terms of the Galactomyces in here – this would be good for those who want to add to their anti-ageing or anti-pigmentation routine.

Note: This is meant to be a dupe for the SK-II Treatment essence. These both contain the same Galactomyces Yeast Ferment Filtrate BUT this essence doesn’t contain fragrance or colourants.


Packaging: Glass Bottle with a Screw-top lid. This has an inner nozzle that prevents you from pouring a lot of this product out. You’ll see in the swatch video below how much product is dispensed when you tip the bottle.

Patreon Takes a Stand Against Hate - Leaf&Core
Click on the Logo!

Support the Blog / Instagram / Youtube on Patreon! Includes Perks and Benefits such as EXCLUSIVE Content! LINK HERE

Directions: After cleansing + toning, apply onto the face and pat to help absorption.

How I use it: I used this in the PM like a toner (after cleansing). I fully saturated a cotton pad and swiped my skin to also remove excess dirt, to saturate the skin and then move onto my Argireline Solution (Review HERE).

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide – anti-ageing, brightening, anti-inflammatory and barrier repair. Glycerin – Natural Moisturiser + Skin-barrier improving. Adenosine – Wound-healing + anti-inflammatory.

The main Key Ingredient is Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (Also called Pitera). This is a Moisturiser + Humectant mainly but has other properties. This was discovered initially as a skincare ingredient from the brand SKII. Supposedly Galactomyces Filtrate contains many vitamins + minerals. The studies that SKII have shown is that this filtrate helps protect the skin against damage + that the yeast provides antioxidant effects as well as increases the moisture intake of the skin (and plumps it up).  It’s also been said that this filtrate can help with skin pigmentation and helps improve the skin’s moisture barrier.

However I will say that some people are sensitive to Yeast Filtrate i.e. they do get little small (sometimes itchy bumps) due to Galactomyces, so please check if you are sensitive to this kind of ingredient before using. For those who are able to use these kind of Yeast products, it should really help improve the overall tone and look of the skin.

Full Ingredients: Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Dipropylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Extract, Acorus Gramineus Root/Stem Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Adenosine

NOTE: The Incidecoder have a full ingredient breakdown HERE

Texture: This is a watery and lightweight product. It absorbs fast, slides down the skin once applied, and is easy to tap/pat in. It’s also so light that it totally soaks up + saturates a cotton pad. A very easy to use product that can be used in both hot and warm weather without making the skin fee like it’s suffocating.

Looks just like water

Swatch: Definitely a lightweight + watery texture. This product practically runs down the hand.


Obviously provides a nice wet look to the skin. It doesn’t take long for this to absorb. The finish itself isn’t too shiny but I wouldn’t call this a mattifying product.


Before and After Comparison

Fragrance?: No added fragrance HOWEVER the Grape Fruit Extract included can be used to add a scent (but I didn’t really smell much from this).

Good Under Makeup?: Yes absolutely fine as it’s so watery + lightweight

How long have I been using this?: I used this for 3 weeks before discontinuing (I had to use it on and off to check if it was giving me bumps).

The Effect?: I had to stop using this before I could really see any brightening effect since it was giving me bumps on the forehead. HOWEVER I will say that because this is so thin, it wasn’t particularly hydrating – it was simply good to apply as it dried down very quickly and I could move onto the next step of my routine.

Support the Blog!

Giving a donation really helps with the maintenance of the blog! any money made will go towards purchasing products for review!


What I like:

  • No added fragrance
  • I like the packaging
  • I like the addition of Niacinamide, Adenosine + Glycerin
  • Very lightweight / watery texture – layerable
  • Absorbs quick so I can move onto the next step of my routine

What I don’t like:

  • Gave me bumps on my forehead so I had to stop using this
  • Not particularly moisturising or hydrating because it’s so watery and lightweight

Overall Rating and Conclusion: 2/5 I did really like the texture of this product BUT I do think that Yeast Ferment OR Rose water might not be for me (I still can’t pinpoint what it is I’m sensitive to). This product gave me bumps on my forehead and made it a little bit itchy. One of my subscribers also had this problem, so please check you’re not sensitive Rose water or Yeast Ferment before using (or any of the other ingredients).

It’s a shame because I like Niacinamide, I like Glycerin and I like Adenosine i.e. this could have been a product simply containing Yeast Ferment Filtrate and that could have been it, so I appreciate Secret Key putting some more skin-beneficial ingredients in here. But I did have to discontinue using this and so I can’t really recommend this product.

HOWEVER I think if your skin can tolerate Galactomyces, I think this would be a decent dupe to use if one can’t afford the expensive SKII essence (But then there are people who say that the SKII essence is one of a kind and any dupes do not provide the same effect, so the choice is yours!).

Would I repurchase?: No because this product did not work out for me.

Dupe?: The Curel Essence Moisture Facial Lotion Essence (BLOG POST HERE)

  • I think this is a good dupe as it’s both watery, lightweight AND it layers well on the skin AND didn’t give me bumps.
Please Consider Subscribing!

My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have slightly dehydrated combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.

Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.

Please Consider Following me on Instagram!!

Note: I earn a small commission when you purchase through affiliate links, which helps me purchase products for review + also help improve the Blog! If you would like to support me, thank you ever so much! and if not, that’s fine – I hope you enjoy my posts! 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s