Thanks to the popularity of the Korean multi-step beauty routine, essences have earned a spot on the shelves of skincare fanatics all over the world. (here’s a quick refresher on essences and what they do).
Think of an essence like a thicker, more hydrating toner that’s formulated to balance and prep the skin for the rest of your regimen. According to K-beauty devotees, essences help prime the skin to better absorb serums and other treatments, making them absolutely worth the extra step in your routine.
Interested in seeing if an essence is right for you? We rounded up six of our editors’ favorite essences for every skin type.
Let’s start with an affordable, no-frills French pharmacy staple. This product contains niacinamide, which brightens and helps strengthen the skin’s barrier function, as well as salicylic acid to exfoliate the buildup that inhibits your skin from absorbing other products. The texture is very lightweight and non-sticky, making this a good choice for those with oily or combination skin.
If you’re already a fan of Caudalie’s beloved Beauty Elixir, this essence is for you. The French brand’s Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence contains glycolic acid to sweep away dead skin cells on the surface of the skin for a noticeable brightening effect. Organic grape water—Caudalie’s hero ingredient—soothes and nourishes to bring your skin back to life after cleansing.
EVE LOM’s essence is formulated with the signs of aging in mind. Heavy-hitter ingredients like niacinamide, retinol and a neuropeptide that is believed to soften and prevent fine lines and wrinkles all help you get the most of your other anti-aging treatments. Plus, a bouquet of botanical extracts gives it a gorgeous (but not overpowering) floral scent.
Perfect for urban dwellers and city slickers, BY TERRY’s Detoxilyn City Essence helps protect skin from the damaging effects of pollution particles—which, as you can imagine, are everywhere. An all-star cast of antioxidants helps defend against pesky free radicals that can cause dullness, dark spots and wrinkles in the long term.
Okay, so this isn’t called an essence, but believe us when we say this watery gel from O.G. K-beauty brand Sulwhasoo packs a major punch. For instantly plump, supple skin, place a few drops of Essential Balancing Water onto your palms, and blend into your face after cleansing and toning.
The long-awaited sequel to Vintner’s Daughter cult-classic Active Botanical Serum is here, and it’s the answer to all of our prayers. Not only does it restore the perfect balance of hydration to skin, it also helps to brighten, firm, exfoliate, nourish, strengthen and smoothen with its blend of over thirty painstakingly-chosen botanicals. Thanks to fermented ingredients that boost absorption it smells a bit like vinegar upon application,but that fades away to give you supple, happy skin that we swear actually feels more nourished.