A K-beauty routine simply isn’t a K-beauty routine without the best K-beauty essence. Like toner, it’s one of those products whose necessity is often debated. The benefits are undeniable, but does it make or break the overall effectiveness of a skincare regimen? If you want the best possible results, well, yes–having one is a non-negotiable.
In case you didn’t know, essence is unique to the K-beauty skincare universe. The overall philosophy of this skincare approach is nourishing and maintaining the overall health of your skin with layers of hydration. Simply put, essence is one of those essential layers. It’s not quite a toner and not quite a serum. Think of it as a hybrid of the two that should be applied to the face right after cleansing. A lot of essences have the consistency of water that can be splashed or misted onto the face, though there are equally effective solutions that feel like gel or lotion.
Most essences are infused with a heavy dose of fermented ingredients (yeast extract is a popular one) since they tend to mimic or boost some of the skin’s natural processes. However, essence formulas are becoming more and more versatile, sometimes even serving as a mashup of several products you’d typically use in a multi-step routine. With that being said, there’s a lot to choose from. Ahead are some of the top-rated favorites that promise to elevate your routine and of course, upgrade your glow.
Then I Met You The Giving Essence
Eighty percent of this formula is naturally-fermented nutrients and also includes polyglutamic acid, an underrated ingredient that holds more moisture than hyaluronic acid.
Banila Co Deep Hydration Intense Essence
A purifying, brightening and moisturizing skin solution pumped with peppermint, Holy Basil, and Neem Leaf extracts.
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Essence Mist
The best-selling collab between Acwell and Soko Glam is this milky mist infused with moisture-locking and brightening ingredients for a healthy glow.
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
Fermented yeast extract is the star ingredient of this oldie, but goodie for firming and balancing the skin’s sebum production.
Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence
This toner, moisturizer and essence in one is infused with sodium hyaluronate, a type of hyaluronic acid that can retain 1000 times its own weight in water.
COSRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
By now, you’ve at least heard about snail mucin, one of K-beauty’s most popular ingredients renowned for its ability to repair and strengthen skin cells.
Danahan Ginseng Seed Secret Essence
A highly concentrated formula of ginseng oil, saponin and multiple seed extracts that delivers anti-aging antioxidants to the skin for a smoother and plumper complexion.
Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence
A multibeneficial hydrator formulated to quickly penetrate the skin and deliver a laundry list of properties; from brightening (niacinamide) to firmness (adenosine) to pollutant protection (lotus extract).
belif Hungarian Water Essence
Second only to the brand’s iconic The True Cream-Aqua Bomb, this lightweight serum uses apothecary herbs and Hungarian water to hydrate and recharge the skin.
Kitao Matcha + Chia Essence Lotion
Four superfoods make up this skin softener for fighting free radicals, brightening the complexion and boosting overall skin health.
re:p Nutrinature Ultra All-In-One Mutlitem
A multitasking essence that tones and moisturizes in one step with naturally-derived ingredients proven to nourish and brighten.
Innisfree Cherry Blossom Dewy Glow Mist
This dreamy mist is suitable for all skin types and is actually infused with cherry blossom extract that elevates overall skin radiance when concentrated.
Laneige Water Bank Hydro Essence
The mineral water in this ultra-hydrating essence is derived from vitamin-rich veggies to provide moisture that lasts all day.
Primera Miracle Seed Essence
This lotus seed-rich formula targets the overall health of your skin so it can better absorb other products in your routine.
Shiseido WASO: Fresh Jelly Essence
The standout ingredient of this gel-to-liquid essence is white jelly mushroom, which helps deliver and hold moisture to the skin.
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