Facial Essences - What You Need To Know About The Korean Skincare Sensation

From Ginseng to Salva Hispanica, biotherm to marine essence, your cleanse and tone routine just gained a major player.

skin essences asian models backstage fashion

Sounds like some sort of magical potion, but facial essences have been popular in the Asian skincare market for years.

So what exactly is a facial essence?

It's a lightweight, hydrating liquid, designed to help prepare skin for your moisturiser, post cleansing. Think of your skin like a sponge - once cleansed and dried, a dry sponge cannot as easily absorb moisture compared to a slightly damp one. Essence is the hydrating layer that properly primes the skin to best absorb your fancy serums and creams.

If you're already a 3-step convert, you might be wondering how a face essence is different from your toner. Totally fair question.

They're both a lightweight liquid and although they can feel quite similar, they have different purposes and contain different ingredients.

Toner is used to remove last traces of cleanser and is essentially water, enhanced with essential oils and often alcohol for quick drying. A facial essence may feel a bit more creamy compared to toner and contains higher levels of active ingredients, designed to penetrate deeper into the skin.

A face essence instantly balances the skin after cleansing and toning, adding hydration and priming the skin.

How do I use a facial essence?

Whether you're ready for the full Korean 10-step routine or not, an essence is an easy addition to your day that doesn't take up a lot of time. It's commonly used after toner, but not on a cotton pad – not only would that waste your precious potion, but Asian skincare experts have come up with a more effective method.

Place a couple of drops into your palms and press the essence into your face until absorbed. The heat of your hands and gentle facial pressure can help the product to penetrate the skin, whilst boosting circulation.

Which facial essence is best for me?

Like the huge choice of moisturisers and cleansers available, there is a face essence to address most skin concerns.

The most popular? The face essences for brightening, hydrating or firming.

For dry skin - Use a moisturising essence, packed full of hyaluronic acid, on dehydrated skin that's been doing overtime.

For dull skin - If you've got dull skin in need of radiance, look for an essence that contains brightening pearl pigments and zingy botanicals to wake your morning skin up.

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Kiko Cosmetics Pure Clean Essence

This affordable, lightweight lotion is ideal for giving dull skin a new lease of life.

Kiko £7.90

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Shiseido Pureness Pore Minimizing Essence

This essence leaves a cooling feel on the skin, reducing the look of enlarged pores.

Lookfantastic £24.50

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Vitamin E Aqua Boost Essence Lotion

Containing hyaluronic acid, this essence will provide some much-needed moisture for dehydrated skin.

The Body Shop £10

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Origins Original Skin Essence Lotion

This oil-free essence is fortified with a special complex that enhances your natural skin radiance.

Boots £22

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ThisWorks No Wrinkles Wonder Essence

With potent enzymes to clear any dead skin cells, this essence will help to reduce the look of imperfections.

Lookfantastic £30

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Aurelia Skincare Brightening Botanical Essence

For the ultimate in skincare convenience, this essence comes in a misting bottle to spray over the face.

Lookfantastic £22

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B. Essence Lotion

With soothing Allantoin and naturally derived Algae extract to replenish your skin, this essence is great during sensitive flare-ups.

Superdrug £6.99

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Jurlique Activating Water Essence

Containing Marshmallow Root from the Jurlique farm, you may think of sweets but its usage dates back to ancient times.

Lookfantastic £40

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Su-Man Rehydrating Toning Essence

Unlike other essence products, this starts as a gel that transforms into a liquid upon application.

Feelunique £37

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DHC Beauty Lift Essence 

When this essence was trialled, 100% of participants experienced smoother skin in 7 days.

Feelunique £38.50

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