Everything You Need to Know About Essence (And Which Ones Are Best For You)

Skin Secrets

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The murky lines dividing beauty products continue to cause confusion, especially for anyone who only dabbles in skin care regimens rather than the full-blown routine addicts that some (cough *me* cough) become after seeing positive results. If you’re confused about serums, toners, and essences, don’t fret!

Toners are used right after cleansing. If you’re using harsh cleansers, toner will help you balance skin P.H.

Essence comes next, and before serum, but here’s the basic rule – the thicker the product, the later you apply it in your routine. Watery products go before heavy ones, so if you’ve got a runny serum and a goopy essence, swap them around, and they’ll be better absorbed. You’ll waste less product and see better results because hydrated skin processes all your lotions and potions much more effectively.

What You Should Know

  • Allure Best of Beauty- 2018

  • Available as 2.3oz mini or in certain Sephora Sample Packs

  • Starring fermented Green Tea

This heavy-duty antioxidant gets pores tight and clean, with tons of hydration to plump out fine lines and wrinkles while nourishing dry skin, so the rest of your routine can get to work. Reviews are mixed about how long this essence will last, and heavy users are especially likely to find the price discouraging. Still, it’s such a lightweight liquid you can apply it with a small spritzer so that you won’t waste any drops on your hands, cotton swabs, or other applicators.

Review Highlights

“My makeup goes on flawlessly but quite frankly, my skin looks so healthy foundation is not even necessary. I just bought my second bottle. I’m thoroughly impressed (and I seldom say this about any product). “

What You Should Know

  • Free of synthetic dyes, fragrances, and alcohol

  • Great for combination skin

  • With Rosemary and Lavender

Whether you call it a serum or an essence, this is a moisturizing bomb that will ramp up your regime. Korean brand Belif features products free of synthetic dyes and fragrances, so even allergy-prone users can find a product that meets their skincare needs without causing redness or inflammation from allergen exposures. Based on apothecary treatments, this antioxidant-rich essence features Rosemary and Lavender to calm combination skin and hydrate for maximum effectiveness when combined with the rest of your routine.

Review Highlights

“This product is awesome. I use it every night after using my Clarisonic and it’s super hydrating. I should have ordered multiple bottles!”

What You Should Know

  • Available in a 2.5oz Mini

  • Best for treating wrinkles and dark spots

  • With 90% Pitera Essence

The SK-II line is formulated around a single key ingredient: Pitera essence. This mineral-rich fermented liquid boasts celebrity acclaim, with radiant reviewers, like actress Cate Blanchett, claiming her stunning skin is due in part to a religious dedication to the SK-II products. This essence has the highest concentration of Pitera in their entire line, so it’s a fantastic way to try out the luxury line without splurging on the whole product set.

Review Highlights

“It feels as though my skin is drinking it in. My skin is hydrated and radiant, and best of all, my forehead lines are significantly reduced. Worth every penny.”

What You Should Know

  • Dermatologist tested

  • Meets the Clean at Sephora standards

  • Great for dry skin

Tatcha’s entire line focuses on green tea, rice, and algae, to help you get skin that glows with health and happiness. With such rave reviews and devoted users, it’s easy to see why many people love the Tatcha line; they claim that using this essence only adds seven seconds to your skincare routine, but the results far outweigh the investment.

Review Highlights

“I rarely leave product reviews as normally I’m not blown away by a purchase but Tatcha’s essence is one of the best products I’ve ever bought.”

What You Should Know

  • Brightens skin

  • Boosts elasticity

  • Amps up any multi-step regimen

After their treatment toner and before the all-in-one cream, this Snail Mucin essence is the perfect compliment to Cosrx’s multi-step line for glowing, rejuvenated skin. Unlike other moisture-intensive lines, it’s not necessary to relegate these products to nighttime use because they absorb quickly and don’t lay heavy on the skin. Perfect for day or night, they’re effective for makeup users and absolutely stunning for a bare-faced day.

Review Highlights

“I’ve used this for a few days now and can already notice a difference in my skin. Instead of feeling dry, my skin feels more supple and bouncy. It’s a bit slimy of a feeling when applied after toner, but that slickness goes away quickly and absorbs well into the skin.”

What You Should Know

  • Smoothes texture

  • Great for oily or combination skin in particular

  • Includes cotton applicators

There’s a debate with essences: whether you should apply the K-Beauty tradition by hand, use cotton applicators as you do with toner, or go the third route with spray applicators. Primera is the rare product that includes a set of cotton applicators, so their intended application method is pretty easy to sus out.

Review Highlights

“I would highly recommend this to someone who has sensitive skin, with dark spot or dullness – this is definitely going to be added into my skincare routine!”

What You Should Know

  • Aloe, Apple, Green Tea; like juicing for your skin

  • Use as part of a multi-step line to quench dry skin

  • Prepares skin cells to accept serums and moisturizers

Get in on this brightness-boosting essence before everyone else learns about it, and it sells out! It has everything dry, dreary skin needs, with aloe as the first ingredient is guaranteed to be just the nourishing step your routine has been missing. Malic acid and CoQ10 are just a few of the active ingredients pulling their weight, showing that your skin is being hydrated and well-cared-for over time.

Review Highlights

“Seriously the best. I have acne-prone oily skin and this has helped balance my oil and I haven’t been breaking out as much! I have been using at night before moisturizer for about a month now. The spots forming on my face are visibly smaller in the morning.”

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