The Importance of Using an Essence in Your Skin Care Routine


If you’re familiar with multi-step skin care routines, chances are you have heard about essences from friends who swear by them. A rarely mentioned beauty product, spirits act like a hybrid between toner and serum in terms of their benefits for the skin.

These lotions hydrate and prepare skin for more concentrated serums, oils, and moisturizers to follow while simultaneously targeting specific issues like dullness or fine lines.


A light layer of essence can add extra hydration, helping keep skin plump and youthful. Hydration is the foundation for healthy skin; it is vital for people with dry or sensitive complexions as it can strengthen the barrier function and ultimately strengthen it further.

Apply essence after cleansing your face and applying serum and moisturizer, with patting motions versus rubbing, helping the formula sink more efficiently into your skin. Don’t forget to rinse off your hands once done! Cho compares the essence’s watery consistency to a sponge: anything placed atop something wet will be more easily absorbed than when applied dry. Cho suggests dabbing hands in essence then patting around all parts of the face–patting helps ensure even coverage across the neck. Once finished, don’t forget to rinse hands afterwards before touching anything else!

Essences are designed to be lightweight, making them suitable for virtually all skin types. Their higher concentration of active ingredients can address concerns like hydration, brightening, or anti-aging. However, if your skin has oily or acne-prone characteristics, an essence formulated with salicylic or lactic acid might be more helpful.

Concerned about skin sensitivity? An essence formulated from apple-derived ceramides, shea butter, and glycyrrhizinate may protect from free radicals and environmental pollutants that cause inflammation. Meanwhile, KITAO Matcha + Chia Essence Lotion features superfood extracts such as chia seeds, quinoa, and acai that keep the complexion soft and smooth.

Though an essence may not be necessary for most skincare routines, adding one in may help address issues with dryness, dullness, or irritation. Plus, patting on an essence feels amazing – giving your face that extra boost of radiance! To upgrade your routine and explore its effects further, add one of our favorites below (note that essences are typically sold separately from toners).


As an essence, this serum-prepped formula (containing hyaluronic acid and peptides) instantly hydrates and plumps skin without harsh ingredients that strip its moisture barrier. Not only that, but this toner-slash-essence also has the power to smooth fine lines and wrinkles while improving tone, reducing hyperpigmentation smooth fine lines/wrinkles/wrinkle depth as well as minimizing hyperpigmentation, all without harsh chemical stripping agents!

If your pores are clogged up, this essence containing niacinamide and reboxetine may help them remain clear by dissolving impurities and preventing future breakouts. Furthermore, its formulation includes soothing ingredients such as pore-calming neem oil and soothing licorice root extract to ease redness and irritation.

Fresh’s Brightening Essence is the ideal brightening serum for all complexions, packed with melanin-inhibiting vitamin C and peony and licorice root extract to even out skin tone and reduce dark spots. Use daily for maximum brightening, soothing, and smoothing effects.

Water-based essence that features humectants such as glycerin and sorbitol, as well as various forms of hyaluronic acid, can help increase skin hydration while maximizing the effectiveness of any products you put on top.

Dermatologists and estheticians love this product for its ability to balance skin pH while soothing and hydrating it. Formulated with Okinawa algae, Akita rice, Uji green tea blend, and yeast ferment containing antioxidants and amino acids – it’s no secret why dermatologists love this formula!

Another effective serum to brighten skin, this one combines glycolic acid and shea butter for maximum brightness while fighting signs of aging. A must-have product!


This essence contains the skin-soothing ingredient sebocytine and other skin-nourishing components such as fermented rice water, niacinamide, and vitamin E for softening complexion, controlling oil production, and evening out skin tone. Together, these elements create an essence-toner combination that’s hydrating, soothing, and nourishing, free from drying alcohol that often makes toners or serums so harsh on the skin.

Explicitly formulated with mature skin types in mind, yet suitable for all, the formula boasts antioxidant-rich botanicals to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, along with glycerin, peptides, pink yeast extract, and hydration-boosting hyaluronic acid for maximum hydration and replenishment. Gentle enough for everyday use or even light moisturizer application during summer months – perfect as either pre-face serum or light moisturizer!

Essences provide extra hydration that’s welcomed by skin of all kinds, especially dry or aging complexions. Furthermore, bodies can also help balance oily skin by helping prevent clogged pores from clogging up. Plus, their ingredients work to plump out and smooth skin to boost luminosity and radiance!

Essences can help prime the skin for more heavy serums, oils, and concentrates you layer on top. They generally feature lightweight texture, which absorbs quickly by the complexion and can even address specific concerns like treating melasma or preventing fine lines and wrinkles.

Beauty industry insiders have long recognized this skincare step from Asia, but its introduction in the United States truly put it on the map. While this toner/essence may evoke praise and criticism since arriving here, many dermatologists agree it is worth its hype, adding extra moisture and improving the performance of serums/oils/concentrates you layer on top. If you want to give this trend a try for yourself, shop our nine formulas crafted for each skin type below; remember it’s not essential–your cleanser/SPF/moisturizer should suffice just fine if used.


Essences are among the most essential products for an effective skincare routine. Their watery consistency helps restore the skin’s natural pH levels. It provides a vital base hydration layer, making other serums and moisturizers absorb better and providing targeted solutions for dryness, dullness, or signs of aging.

Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist, asserts that essences help prepare the skin to absorb products applied on top, like loosening garden soil before watering it. For this reason, essences should be an integral part of your skincare regimen, and lightweight formulas are best applied using cotton pads or the K-beauty method (pour a small amount in your hand and apply to skin with patting movements).

Essence is the foundation of your skin care regimen, so selecting one explicitly tailored to your needs is paramount. For anti-aging needs, look no further than SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($95). It is packed with yeast fermentation-derived Pitera ingredient that delivers more than 50 micronutrients that provide skin plumping, resurfacing, and strengthening benefits.

Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate ($36) moisturizes dry skin. Formulated with hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and vitamin C for brightness, this essence promises effective treatment of dehydrated complexions.

La Vie Precieuse MOIST A.P.G Lotion ($70) offers an effective combination of antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients to address signs of aging in mature skin types but works on all. Formulated specifically to target mature skin but suitable for all, its essence features apple-derived ceramide to combat dehydration while its rich blend of shea butter, proteoglycan, and glycyrrhizinate provides soothing moisture for smoothing and hydrating your complexion – adding this product can keep your face looking youthful all day long! It even comes in travel size, so it’s convenient when taking trips!