The Essence of Essence

It’s the heart of Korean skincare… but what does it do?

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The K-Beauty question I get asked most often is what the heck is essence? While I could write a dissertation on what it is and is not, I’ll resist the temptation and give it to you short and sweet.

The main purpose of essence is hydration. When your skin is more hydrated, it is more absorbent, priming your skin for the wonderful, active ingredients contained in your serum.

Of course, it’s more than just a primer for your serum. It’s a highly concentrated product that works on your skin at a cellular level, helping with cell turnover, which slows down as we age. This means the essence will help reduce fine lines, brighten your complexion and improve evenness in tone.

Essence is applied after toner and before serum, AM and PM. If you’re unsure of the steps in the K-skincare routine, check out my previous post, which gives you a quick overview of the notorious 10 step.

As usual, I’ve rounded up my top recommendations based on my own experience. Since I have dry-combination skin, I’ve also included a couple products suggested by my oilier-skinned friends. Enjoy!



Missha First Treatment Essence

Missha’s bestselling product is also one of the most famous essences out there. A popular dupe for SKII’s much pricier Facial Treatment Essence, Missha’s First Treatment Essence will definitely give you brighter, glowier skin. It’s great for all skin types, particularly drier-skinned girls.



Iope Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning

I love this essence. With Nicotinamide, it’s great for hyperpigmentation and brightening the skin. I stopped using it because it lacks some of the intense hydration of Missha FTE, so if you have oilier skin, this one’s for you. It has a very watery consistency and for those of you who like to dot your I’s and cross your t’s, the bottle has marks on the side to guide your usage.



Tosowoong Green Tea Eco Brightening Essence

Tosowoong is incredibly popular with women who suffer from acne and redness. With a high density of green tea, this essence is full of antioxidants and will have a pleasant calming effect if you have angry red skin.


essence1Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence

Cremorlab has gone from strength to strength and this product is one of their standouts. Thermal water is the key ingredient to nourish your skin, chasing away any tired, gloomy shadows. The essence also contains niacinamide, which will help brighten and even out your skintone. It is suitable for normal to oily types and with its gentle fomula, it is perfect for sensitive skin.



Caudalie Essence Vinoperfect

I’m currently in love with all things by Caudalie and their essence is no exception. Like the Missha FTE, it’s super hydrating. The only fault I can find is the musky smell, which I did notice in the Caudalie hydrating toner, but is amplified in this essence.

I hope you found this a helpful introduction to essence (for those who are new), and for those who are old hands at the essence game, I’d love to get your favourites! Share in the comments below and for more updates, don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list at the top of the page.


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