You can read more about it and look at the application instructions here. All SK-II products have Pitera (the SK-II magic ingredient in it).
1. The Facial Treatment Essence has the highest concentration of Pitera in it, about 90% Pitera, which is essential to promoting the skin's 28-day renewal cycle.
2. It absorbs easily into the skin.
3. It helps smooth skin surface.
4. It instantly replenishes skin's moisture after cleansing.
5. Helps make skin tone brighter.
My thoughts on SK-II:
I started using SK-II products in college. My mom brought them from Taiwan and told me they may help with my then still-adolescent acne problem. Truthfully, it didn't help with my acne problem at all, but what I did notice was how much softer and smoother my skin felt (except the acne-suffering chin area). Since then I have been hooked on SK-II.
I have gone through and used up perhaps 8 or more bottles of the Facial Treatment Essence. Perhaps so sadly, that is at least $1600 USD spent on the Facial Treatment Essence. The product comes only in glass bottles. Plastic bottles are reserved for sample or travel sizes. The product has an earthy sweet smell (to me anyways), and always makes me feel so refreshed!
As to the first claim, I don't know if the science behind Pitera or any other skincare brands are true when they talk about promoting or hastening the skin's 28-day cycle. I mean, I'm not a scientist so I can't follow up on those claims. Additionally, I use exfoliators during those 28 days so I can never be sure if my skin's 28-day cycle is improved due to SK-II or my St. Ives exfoliators. However I have noticed that my skin texture is less rough, more dewey, and has a nice healthy glow when I incorporate SK-II products into my routine. So maybe there is something to the Pitera claim after all.
Yes, claim 2 about it absorbing easily into the skin is correct. With the Facial Treatment Essence, DO NOT use cotton pads or anything to aide in the application of this liquid. It is a waste of product if you do and considering the price tag... No, don't waste money like that. Instead, follow the instructions as detailed in this link, or do what I do, which is to pour Facial Treatment Essence into a spray bottle and mist it on the face. That way you use an even amount each and every time. When the essence absorbs into skin, it leaves the skin feeling healthy, moisturized, and taut.
In that way, we come to claim 3 that the skin is smoother. Yes, I believe that when your face is dry, you can feel the thinness in the skin, the tightness when you make expressions, and it feels a little rough such as more prone to wrinkling or the skin flaking off. So when the essence is applied and the skin drinks it up, the skin fills out and manages to gain a nice healthy glow. Also, when the skin fills out and is moisturized, the skin feels smoother because the wrinkles and the dry flakiness disappear.
Claim 4: Yes, using the essence after cleansing will replenish moisture to the face and the skin, especially around the delicate eye areas!
Claim 5: Now this one, I'm not sure about. I get brightening confused with whitening, so I'll address both. The facial treatment essence does not whiten the skin or make it paler or anything like that. But what the essence does is add vitality to your facial skin by adding moisture to the deeper layers of the skin. In that way does the essence plump and firm up the skin, providing that supple, healthy luminous look to the skin.
How does this work with acne treatment, specifically BP gels and topicals?
In my experience and opinion, the essence works as well as my current witch hazel extract and BP gel. There is no noticeable difference, reaction, or anything negative. The only time I have ever had any problem with flakey and dry skin was when I used Retin-A and the BP gel together! I think the combination of topicals was too strong for my skin. When I took the Retin-A out of my skincare routine, the flakiness stopped. However, the area where I had applied BP gel was always a little drier than others, but I think that is normal.
Definitely, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is not meant to be used alone after cleansing. But as the "toning" step, I believe that there are benefits to using this product. This is the only product I have used so far that has not dried out my skin after "toning." The essence, in my experience, has helped draw moisture back into the deeper layers of skin and provided a nice healthy glow to my skin.
I would most definitely retain SK-II Facial Treatment Essence as my Holiest of Holy Grails.