Can Sake-Lees Reduce the Appearance of Melasma and Skin Hyper-Pigmentations

Can Sake-Lees Reduce the Appearance of Melasma and Skin Hyper-Pigmentations

Can Sake-Lees Reduce the Appearance of Melasma and Skin Hyper-Pigmentations

You’ve probably stumbled onto this page because you, like many others have heard of the amazing brightening effects of sake-lees and want to find out if the topical application will actually help lighten or eliminate pigmented spots and patches.

So lets dive straight into it. Will sake-lees clear up melasma and hyperpigmentation?

For this to occur, 3 main things will need to happen,

1) Inhibit the production of melanin in the dermal to epidermal layers
2) Remove the existing overgrowth of melanin
3) Prevent the activation and formation of new melanacytes


Lets address the first issue and find out if Sake-lees will inhibit the production of melanin.

For melanin production to occur, specific enzymes and proteins are required. Two important enzymes needed for melanin production are tyrosinase and dopachrome tautomerase. Sake-lees has been reported to inhibit and accelerate the degradation of tyrosinase activity leading to a significant decrease in melanin synthesis. Ferulic acid, arbutin and kojic acid are the key ingredients found in sake-lees which works to suppress the action of tyrosinase and makes it an extremely potent natural whitening/brightening agent. These ingredients are produced through the fermentation process by adding koji (Aspergillus oryzae) mold to steam rice and water.

Ferulic acid – inhibits tyrosinase expression and hence reduce melanin synthesis
Arbutin – decreases melanin biosynthesis through the inhibition of tyrosinase activity.
Kojic acid – inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme that converts tyrosine to melanin.

Reports have also concluded that the particles for all three of these anti-melanin agents are small enough to be absorbed and penetrated to the dermal layers of the skin to elicit a strong enough effect to reduce tyrosinase protein levels and inhibit melanogenesis on a deeper skin level. Kojic acid has a smaller molecular weight allowing the ingredient to target the deeper melanocytes.

Now that we’ve identified that melanin production can be inhibited or significantly reduced, with regular use of sake-lees. It’s time to address the second issue and find out how the existing overgrowth in melanin can be naturally removed

To improve the existing discolouration in skin tone, we need to remove the overgrowth in melanin that is already present in the skin that is causing the uneven patches and pigmentation.

Melanin is scattered between the surface layer and deeper layers of the skin. By increasing cell regeneration and turnover, the melanin and pigments slowly moves way from the dermal to the top epidermal layers. When the pigment reaches the surface, the use of an exfoliation, peel or scrub will remove the dead skin cells and with it the discolouration and unwanted pigments. The quicker the skin regenerates and the faster the surface layer of the skin is removed/renewed, the lighter the pigments and patches gradually become.

Traditionally Japanese have used sake-lees to treat minor burns and sunburn due to its effective skin healing and cell regenerating properties. Sake-lees encourage the speed up of skin regeneration through its rich content of amino acids, peptides, vitamin b groups, saccharides, nucleic acid, proteins and minerals

Amino acids – Sake-lees combines over 20 types of amino acids which helps to increase skin metabolism and are the essential building blocks proteins

Vitamin B – effective with increasing metabolism, skin regeneration, and promoting skin turnover.

Saccharides – exhibit powerful effects on skin repair based on their excellent bioactivities, including antioxidant and promote anti-aging

Ceramides – are lipids that is present in the stratum corneum (outer layer of skin) and responsible for skin barrier support and moisture balance.

Nucleic acids – promote tissue regeneration by translating into additional therapeutic proteins or silencing specific genes through endogenous pathways to improve skin turnover and promote anti-aging

Minerals – and lets not forget sake-lees are mineral rich in calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium and potassium. All necessary building blocks for healthy skin.

Prevention is better than cure. All the good work can be instantly undone if the proper preventive measures are not taken. Identifying the melanin triggers and carrying out the preventive regime will save you more time and heartache in the long run. The main triggers of melanocytes includes sun UV exposure, hormonal changes and skin inflammation.

Sun exposure – Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun increases melanin production and darken existing dark patches and trigger new pigmentations. It is the primary factor that induces and aggravates pigmentations, sun spots, and melasma. UV Sun protection includes the daily use of a broad spectrum sunscreen with a factor of 30 or higher. Behavioral modifications such as wearing UV protective wear, putting on a hat, seeking shaded areas and avoiding sunbaking are all necessary preventive factors to take.

Skin inflammation – caused by acne, skin rashes, skin trauma, lead to Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). The inflammatory process induces numerous endogenous and exogenous response and individuals with darker skin types are more prone to darker PIH which take longer to treat.

Hormones – fluctuations in hormones during pregnancy, hormonal therapy or use of birth control pils can trigger an overproduction of skin melanocytes.

Hereditary & Genetics – various cultures and people with medium to darker skin tones will be more prone to developing abnormal clusters of pigmented patches. It is important to be extra vigilant with managing sun exposure.


Patience is key. Results will come gradually with dark patches and pigments slowly fading with time. It requires 3 – 6 months for the skin to renew. As your skin regenerates, the excess melanin is being pushed to the surface, and a use of an effective exfoliator or peel will assist in removing the excess melanin from your skin, providing you with a complexion that is more even looking

Any activity which promotes health will always be beneficial. Exercise, sleep and foods which promote faster cell turnover will encourage the discolouration to fade faster.

Chidoriya Sake-lees in dried powder form is the most popular and the most effective topical application to deliver the nutrients to the varying layers of the skin. For best results, a Sake powder mixed into a paste should be applied as a face mask 3 – 4 times a week for 5 – 15 minutes.

In comparison to other forms of topical applications such as a cleanser or cream, a sake-lees mask has a more effective delivery system to allow more of the necessary sake nutrients to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin.

Results will vary depending on the individual, the type of melasma/pigmentation you are dealing with and the frequency/duration of your topical application. Assuming a sake-lees mask is applied to the face for 10 minutes, 3 – 4 times a week:

– for patches and spots residing on the epidermal layers of the skin, you can expect a 50 – 90% improvement (These are patches that have a brownish colour and more visible and closer to the surface of the skin).
– for pigments that hide deeper in the dermal layer (deep dermal melasma tend to have a greyish or bluish tone), results may take longer to see, and improvements can range from 20 – 50%.
– for dark standalone pigmented spots, results may not be as noticeable and a lightening of 10 – 30% has been reported.

Most individuals using the sake-lees will continue to see gradual improvements. There should be a noticeable difference after 2 – 3 months. Unfortunately, there is a small number which would be resistant to treatment with sake-lees.

Your genetics and lifestyle will play a big part in determining how long your skin can stay even. You cannot control your genes and hormones, but you can control your lifestyle. If you don’t take sun protection seriously, even with the best treatments, you are wasting your time, energy and money trying to correct your pigmentation and patches.

Melasma and pigments take a long time to treat but is quick to return if the proper sun protection measures are not taken. All it takes is one day in the sun without sun protection to undo your good work.

Unlike hydroquinone where long term use can lead to toxicity, the use of sake-lees has no known side effects. Therefore incorporating a long term regime using sake-lees is recommended to inhibit the melanin production as much as possible to maintain the even skin tone that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Sake-lees is only one of many natural options you have at your disposal to fight pigmentation. Other ingredients such as vitamin C, licorice extract, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, retinoid, niacinamide all assist to improve and lighten skin tone and should be incorporated in combination with your treatments.

Chidoriya Japan offers an organic Sakekasu which uses freeze-dried sake lees made from the Daiginjoshu manufacturing process to offer a pure and potent form of sake-lees that maximizes the effectiveness.

For your interest, here is a list of the nutrients that can be found in sake-lees:
kojic acid, ferulic acid, txresol, oligosaccharide, Vitamin B6 and B vitamins, vitamin E, adenosine, vanillic acid, S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), arbutin, a-GPC (glycerophosphecholine), polyamines (putrescine, spermine, spermidine), nucleic acid, betaine (trimethylalysine / TMG), agmatine, nicotinamide, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), beta-glucan, cumarc acid, cysteine protease inhibitor peptide, cathepsin beta inhibitory peptide, alpha-glycosy.glycere (aGG), resistive protein, arginine, glucosylceramide (sphingolipid), angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory peptide, a-D-ethvialucoside. (a-EG), minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium and potassium, magnesium, zine and copper

18 thoughts on “Can Sake-Lees Reduce the Appearance of Melasma and Skin Hyper-Pigmentations

  1. Katie Banter

    I’ve been using sake on my skin for 6 months now and I’m only seeing about 50% improvement. Those stubborn greyish patches just won’t budge. I’ll keep going with it and hopefully the improvements will continue in the coming months. Autumn and winter is approaching, so that’s a positive. My pigments always goes lighter in winter months. I’m going to up my frequency from 3 times a week to 5 times a week. Hopefully that will speed up the lightening process.

    I agree with the author completely on one of her point regarding sun sense. If you don’t protect your skin from the sun, you’re wasting your time with any skin lightening treatments. I was on holiday for a week and was exposed to alot of sun. When I came back from my trip, the pigments made a resurgence and set me back about 3 months. I was devastated. So be very strict with sun protection. I feel if I didn’t expose myself to all that sun on the holiday, my skin would be in a much better place.

    1. Coco

      So True!!! It took about 2 years for my skin to be completely clear and a week to Miami stuffed my skin up completely. My skin was so even so I thought I’d book a getaway with my hubby to the states. I thought a bit of sun wouldn’t hurt, but how wrong I was. When I came back from my holiday, I had a nice light tan but after about a month as the tan started to fade, I noticed some patches reappearing again….aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh

      Not again!!! I was so angry with myself. Although the patches were light, it was still noticeable under certain lighting. Back to the Sake Mask again. It took another 6 – 9 months to clear up the patches. My advice. STAY OUT OF THE SUN!

      1. Bianca

        I’ve just started out on the sake kasu mask. May I ask how long it took for your melasma or pigments to clear. I’ve been on it for almost 2 weeks and only seeing minimal fading. Not the results I was envisioning

        1. Coco

          Be patient Sis. 2 weeks is nothing. It took me 2 years. I’m not even sure if my patches were melasma. I’ve never been to a dermatologist to get it checked out so it could be other skin conditions. I get very sceptical when reading reviews from people trying products for 2 or 3 weeks and claim it transformed their skin. I don’t believe any of that rubbish. These people either work for the brand or want you to subscribe to their instagram or tiktok.

          Think about it. Just because sake mask stops melanin growth, it doesn’t mean sake mask can remove melanin that’s already produced in the skin from before. It doesn’t just magically disappear. It takes time for the existing melanin to come to the surface. Like peeling each skin layer off an onion until you get to your natural skin shade.

          Hang in there. 2 weeks is too soon to give a verdict. I saw solid results only after 6 months.

          1. Bianca

            Thank you…. I will persist with it.
            Just one more question. Did you used another brightening products with the sake-lees or did you just use the sake mask on its own to get the results.

          2. Coco

            You’re asking me to divulge my secrets. Here it is – I use 3 other products in combination with the sake mask for brightening.
            1) vitamin C
            2) AHA Peel
            3) Retinol

            Mix the retinol and vit C with the sake mask. It does wonders. But be careful if you have sensitive skin.
            Use a peel at least once a week to get rid of the dead skin cells and surface pigments.
            Make your skin act like it’s young. Youthful skin regenerates quicker and heals faster.

          3. Tuttifruiti

            Hey Bianca,
            The best results come with using a combination of different products.
            I use Tretinoin, sake lees, glycolic peels, AHA toners, Azelaic acid vitamic C serum and off course SPF 50 sunscreen.
            I was prescribed 4% hydroquinone for 3 months and this worked well at the beginning, but in the 3rd month, I stopped it due to the extreme sensitivity I was experiencing with my skin. Even with spf50 sunscreen, my skin would be super red when I was in the sun for 5 minutes. Took a year for my skin to return to normal and needless to say, pigments returned. Results didn’t last.

          4. Melody

            Need to attack it from all angles. It’s a multi pronged strategy. Hit it with the kojic acid using the sake mask and then enhance the results with a retinoids, licorice and vitamin C. Glycolic and AHA peels should be included along with scrubs and exfoliators if your skin can handle it. Stop our western beauty ideology believing a tan is good. All it does is just ages you faster and give you pigmentations.

            Use hydroquinone with caution. 2% is fine but prescriptive 4% or higher needs close monitoring. There’s a reason why Europe banned hydroquinone at doses 1% higher due to the carcinogenic properties and mercury levels and permanent discolouration with long usage. Just be careful when using it.

            Apply your SPF and you’ll be fine.

  2. Pepe

    I find the sake mask to be a little drying. The tightening feeling and the pore refining is good, but I wouldn’t recommend this mask for hydration. Definitely recommend for the brightening results. You can feel it’s much smoother and brighter after a few applications.

  3. Joey H

    This product has been hidden from the west for so long and only starting to gain a bit of popularity after an Australian Tiktok celebrity started promoting it on her channel. I tried using it but got a reaction to the Kojic acid. Wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive skin but thumbs up for brightening effects.

  4. Kassidy

    I don’t know if anyone else has tried this. Premix the sake powder and let it sit for a month before using it.

    I premixed a bag of sake-kasu powder into a creamy paste and left it in a jar for 1 month before using it. It wasn’t deliberate. I just forgot I had the product in the cupboard and when I took the product out it smelled quite sour and off. Like fermented food.

    Long story short. When I applied it, it was so strong that my skin got red and had a reaction to the product within 10 minutes. It was so strong I had to wash it off immediately.

    I heard the longer you keep it, the more kojic and ezymes it releases making the product even more potent. So my question is, does this product continue to ferment if left alone because it would be quite good if you can control the potency of the product by simply adjusting the time when you mix the powder.

  5. HJ

    The surface patches were easily removed with the sake mask and AHA peel. Gone within 1 – 2 months. It’s the deeper ones that’s taking a long time to see results. Contemplating about getting laser done for those pesky melanin that’s deeper to reach. I’m think a laser sake combo could be the solution but worried if the laser will make the patches look worse. I’ve come a long way to lighten my skin and don’t want the laser to screw things up. Anyone tried laser on their pigments in conjunction with using the sake-lees.

  6. Valarie

    Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast is most commonly used with sake brewing and it’s actually a very complex ingredient containing many beneficial compounds for skin. Use sake kasu as a natural probiotic to balance the skin microbiome and makes a great antioxidant with enzymes, vitamins, flavonoids, peptides proteins and minerals. My skin is less sensitive and less reactive

  7. Kate

    Hasn’t done too much for my pigmentations, but what it has done is completely changed the dynamics of my skin and made it much less sensitive and reactive. The itchy spots and rash break outs have stopped and disappeared. Skin is much more balanced and even toned. I attribute it to the enzymes and the good bacteria in the sake-lees

    1. Kickarsskim

      It’s the yeast called saccharomyces cerevisiase that they use to ferment sake that is helping. It’s a rich probiotic for your skin. That along with the 100s of enzymes and other good bacteria from the fermentation process.

    2. Hilary

      Glycolipids (glucosylceramides) can be derived from yeast and is vital in building the skin’s protective barrier.

  8. Ricegirl

    I’m all in with the rice beauty secret. I cleanse my face with rice water, tone my face with sake wine and 3 times a week apply a sake kasu mask for 30 minutes. Results are slow but visible. Would like to know if others are getting good results.


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