Essences are like liquid gold. The best ones help your little skin cells turnover faster than the usual 28 days, to reveal brighter and a more even skin tone. They hydrate you so intensely, you can tap your skin gently and feel its improved elasticity. A few weeks later, you might get a compliment or two on your improved texture and healthier skin.
While essences are the heart of a Korean woman’s routine and have now slowly become a trusted step stateside, I’ve tried my best to try them all. But after many trials and errors, I’ve discovered that not all essences are created equal. Here’s 3 HG essences that make the cut.
SU:M37 Secret Programming Essence
If you thought the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick was the brand’s most coveted product, get to know their Secret Programming Essence. Ask anyone in Seoul–it’s a best seller and revered by skin savvy women. The packaging is not only gorgeous and luxe, the formulation is impressive too. 80 (yes, 80!) of their botanical ingredients are fermented for a year, before it’s put into the formula. It has an earthy scent to it and a slightly thicker consistency compared to the other two on this list, but it’s still light enough to soak into my skin instantly for that all over glow. You can thank the many variations of fermented lactic acid (AHA)’s that give you that bright glow. This premium essence comes at a slightly premium price, but if you compare it to the pricier SK-II essence, it’s definitely reasonable (and smells better too). I recommend this essence for dry skin types that are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles.
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
I’ve used this essence religiously for years and I always tend to go back to it because my skin feels tight, parched and tired without it. With 80% saccharomyces ferment filtrate (a fancy word for fermented yeast extract), it treats my skin on a cellular level. High up on its ingredient list is niancinamide, which boosts my skin’s barrier function and diminishes the redness around my cheeks and nose, which is a miracle in my book. The latest update to the essence is the “Intensive” version, which according to Missha’s R&D team means they increased the active concentrations of the yeast extract and removed the licorice and alcohol for better efficacy. Most everyone loves its affordable price point. I recommend this for all skin types!
IOPE Bio Essence Intensive Conditioning
Another cult-classic in Korea. There isn’t a woman (or man) in Seoul that hasn’t heard about this HG essence. It’s one of those products you could never replace with another and will hoard because it’s that precious. It’s true–it has absolutely no scent or color to it and feels so incredibly light that you could probably take a huge gulp from the bottle and wouldn’t know it wasn’t meant to be consumed. With saccharomyces ferment filtrate at the top of its ingredient list, and other killer ingredients such as niancinamide, and adenosine without unnecessary fillers, your skin will feel like a dream after just 1-2 weeks of use. It’s the perfect essence for oily skin types and in the summer because it gets the hydration you need without weighing your skin down in the slightest.