What is a Facial Essence? Do you need one in your skincare routine?
The main goal of an essence is to hydrate the skin and to help the other products in your skincare routine better absorb into your skin. An essence includes a lot of great benefits for your skin and acts as a primer for your skincare routine. It makes the active ingredients in your existing skincare steps that much more effective. It provides a ton of moisture deep within the skin, restoring the natural moisture balance.
Essences have a texture much more liquid-y than a serum, but still thicker than water, and the formulas are usually completely clear. Because of this, it's difficult to picture that they actually do anything, but they work to improve the overall efficacy of the products you layer on top of it.
What does an essence actually do?
Essences originated in Korea and are considered the powerhouse step in the skincare routine. Essences usually carry a higher dose of active ingredients and are meant as a 'treatment' for the skin.
An essence is used to support the benefits of all the other products in your routine. The active ingredients within an essence will penetrate even deeper into your skin, working to better enhance your other skincare products and making your entire skincare routine more effective. It's a vital part of maintaining your skin's health.
When should essences be used in your skincare routine?
Cleanse your skin first then apply the essence immediately after. If you are using an astringent or pH-balancing toner in your routine, that should go between your cleanser and essence, but typically, you want your essence to be the first layer that goes onto dry skin. After that, you can apply the rest of your routine as normal (lightest to heaviest, starting with serums and working toward moisturizer).
Are essences meant to layer on top of each other the way serums do?
Essences are lighter in weight and less concentrated than a serum, so you only need to use one essence in your skincare routine at a time. The skin can only absorb so much, so you don't want to layer too much on the skin as you'll waste product.
What is the difference between traditional toners (i.e., astringent formulas) and essences?
Essences can easily be confused with toners because they have a consistency that can range from watery to a light serum, but they should be respected in their own category. Toners are meant to help balance the skin pH and prep the skin for more efficacious ingredient delivery in the products to follow. Serums generally have a higher molecular weight than essences and carry more emollient and humectant properties. Because they're specifically made for the delivery of active ingredients in a lightweight formula to be absorbed well by the skin, it makes it one of the most important steps of the Korean skincare routine.
You apply an essence with your hands whereas with a toner, you typically use a cotton pad of some sort to wipe across your face. Using a cotton pad with an essence essentially leaves a lot of product on the cotton pad, not on your skin.
Is an essence a necessity in a skincare routine?
Especially nowadays—while wearing face masks—using a hydrating, serum-infused toner [or essence] a few times a day will go a long way. They pamper and soothe thirsty skin cells by delivering moisture deep into the skin. Doing this a few times a day will remove dirt and oil buildup while simultaneously soothing the skin.