Essences: Essential to Your Skincare Routine

There’s nothing I love more than healthy, glowing skin, but that’s difficult to achieve! One skincare product many Korean women swear by for dewy skin is the essence.

What is an essence?  

Charlotte Cho, licensed aesthetician and co-founder of Sokoglam, says that “essence is the heart of the Korean skincare routine.”

I like to think of essences as being essentially (sorry, another bad pun!) the liquid in a sheet mask pack. You can also think of them as a more concentrated and lightweight version of a moisturizer. Essences are perfect for after you’ve cleansed and toned – your skin is perfectly primed to absorb all of their ingredients!

With an essence, you maximize hydration without the potential greasiness or heaviness of a lotion. Of course, you should still follow up with a proper moisturizer, but essences are a great way to hydrate and plump your skin first.

Essences target skin problems, like wrinkles or dullness or fine lines, because their constituent molecules are small and can be easily absorbed into the skin. They also stimulate cell turnover, meaning that your skin cells will regenerate more quickly; this makes your face will look brighter and fresher!

How do you use essences?  

The two most common types of essences are ones with a water-like consistency or with a gel-like consistency.

For gel-like essences, pump some into your palm and pat – don’t rub! – it in all over your face. For the water-like ones, you can use a cotton pad or your bare hands to apply it. I personally believe that cotton pads absorb too much essence, so I prefer to dump it into my palm instead.

Water-like essences dry faster than “gel” essences, so you can layer your essences a bit faster with the former (more on layering later!). The one issue is that water-like essences have a low viscosity, so they might spill more easily, leading to more product waste.

When do you use essences?

            I use essences as part of my morning and nighttime routines. Make sure you use it after you tone! Essences and toners are two very different products, so please don’t confuse them and definitely don’t substitute one for the other! Toners help clean and balance the skin; essences add additional moisture and, depending on the essence in question, various powerful ingredients for your skin.

Want to know an essence tip?

 I absolutely love layering my essence! Pump or dump the liquid into your hand or applicator of choice and pat it in until your skin is moist and plump. You can “layer” on the essence by repeating this application as many times as you’d like!

Layering gives you a gorgeous, lit-from-within glow; it also maximizes absorption of the essence. It’s not like slathering lotion on your skin – when you layer essences, your skin is drinking up all that good stuff. Layering toners is another popular trick!

Now that you’ve got some knowledge about essences and how to use them, go out there and explore this essential skincare step!