What Does an Essence Mean in Skincare?
Before we dive deep into the meaning of an essence, we should know where it stems from. In the 10-step Korean skincare regimen, essence falls under the fifth step.
Okay, here are the 10 steps. Oil cleanser, water-based cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, serum/treatment, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Whew! Even I don’t apply the 10 steps all in one day.
So, what is an essence anyway?
An essence is a concentrated watery formula that can target anything from dull skin, to wrinkles/fine lines, as well as promoting cell regeneration. In a nutshell, it’s practically the same as a treatment or serum. (Although, a serum is much more concentrated than an essence). Before I confuse you, this is exactly what an essence does: it is a concentrated hydrator, penetrating deep into your pores, thus giving you softer, more youthful skin. It’s usually clear and looks a little thicker than water.
After a toner, (toners will balance your pH levels and prep you for your routine, but that’s another blog post coming soon), the essence comes next. It is much more lightweight than a serum or a moisturizer, making it easy to absorb. But with the recent changes in essences and serums, some essences are now much thicker than serums, and vice versa. Both of these can be buzz words in the skincare world, but it all really boils down to the ingredients that are in them.
Before I get into my favorite essences, there is something you should know. Because the world of Korean skincare is growing faster than I can apply my 10 step regimen, you will see products such as essence toners, ampoules, essence lotions, or anything along those lines with the word essence and another fancy word attached to it. Don’t be afraid, majority of these can be used interchangeably, depending on how your skin feels. Sometimes, these are just marketing buzzwords. Again, it really depends on the ingredients and what your skin is looking for.
When and how to use an essence? Right after applying toner, put a few drops or pumps into your hand and apply it directly onto your face in a light tapping motion to promote absorption.
How can you tell if you need an essence? Well, you don’t really need one, it’s part of the Korean 10-step method. Essences are meant for long-term results, Korean women swear by it. Both essences and serums achieve very similar results, but using both can add more hydration to very dry skin.
My recommended essences: (I’m not sponsored by Sokoglam, I just really think they curate some of the best essences I’ve tried.)
Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence ($38)
I’m always a sucker for any fermented ingredients! This contains birch juice, which is great for the ultimate hydration. This essence is good for all skin types.
Benton Fermentation Essence ($27)
Another great one that contains fermented ingredients such as yeast and it’s a bit easier on the wallet. This one is perfect for sensitive skin and will work with all skin types.
Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($21)
If you’re into the Korean snail trend, this is right up your alley. Snail extract is insanely hydrating and is perfect for dry skin! This essence will feel a bit stickier than other, but that’s the snail extract doing its magic.
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist ($49)
This was probably the most expensive essence I’ve used, but can you believe this is actually a dupe for SK-II’s essence that’s a whopping $180? This product contains over 90% yeast extract, the ingredient that will give you the softest skin ever. Plus, you’ll glow like an angel. It’s worth the splurge.
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Essence Mist ($24)
Licorice in a skincare product? Believe it or not, licorice root extract can brighten your face, getting rid of that dull skin. This is also a Sokoglam exclusive; it comes in a mist bottle, how convenient! This works for all skin types, especially sensitive and acne-prone.
You don’t have to religiously apply the 10-step method. I currently am not using an essence, just a serum. If you don’t feel like adding an essence, then don’t get one! Or if your skin is wanting that extra glow and oomph, use both an essence and a serum. Skincare is always changing, if you don’t see an essence that fits you now, there will be a perfect one for you in the future.
I am not sponsored by any of the brands nor am I affiliated with any of the brands listed above. Thank you for reading & take care! – xoxo, Annie.