To most people in the US, essence is still a relatively new player in the skincare game. However, in the realm of Korean skincare, it has long been a cornerstone of daily beauty routines. From lightweight, watery versions that can double as toners, to thicker, serum-like formulas, essences come in various forms.
The typical application of essence involves cleansing the skin with an oil cleanser and foam cleanser, possibly followed by a toner, and then applying the essence before any other products. A good essence serves as a primer for the skin, preparing it to absorb subsequent skincare products more effectively.
So, is essence the same as toner or skin tonic?
The answer is both yes and no. Traditional skin tonics as we knew them in the ’90s often contained alcohol and stung when applied to the skin. However, modern Korean toners rarely contain alcohol and primarily focus on refreshing the skin, removing any remaining traces of cleanser. Moreover, these toners often include ingredients that help exfoliate dead skin cells and restore the skin’s natural acidic pH after cleansing, when the pH might have turned alkaline due to the soap content.
While essence is quite distinct from traditional toners or skin tonics, it shares many similarities with modern toners. Some people might even choose to skip the toner and instead use an essence with toner-like properties. A good essence can give your skin a radiant glow and enhance the effectiveness of the products applied afterward.
But doesn’t it sound a lot like a serum then?
Yes, it does, and many people use essence as a more cost-effective alternative to serums. However, I personally use both because I believe they complement each other quite well. If you opt for essence instead of serum, keep in mind that essences often don’t contain as potent and targeted ingredients as serums do, especially when it comes to anti-aging.
Interested in adding essence into your skincare routine?
Schwanen Garten’s Antioxidant Treatment Essence is a thick, serum-like essence that can also be used as a toner. It has a luxurious texture which is quickly absorbed by your skin, leaving your skin beautiful and smooth. I apply Schwanen Garten’s Antioxidant Treatment Essence after cleansing my skin and before using Schwanen Garten’s serum or ampoule. The Treatment Essence serves as a perfect base for serums and creams and can even be used under sunscreen for extra skin protection.