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Do You Really Need… an Essence?

If a product is all over Instagram or in all of your friends’ medicine cabinets should you be using it too? Welcome to “Do You Really Need…”, a new series where we discuss how to determine whether or not a trendy or divisive product really belongs in YOUR skin care routine. Today we’re discussing essences.

Essences are one of the most commonly misunderstood steps in the K-Beauty routine. Unlike toners and serums, they are less well known outside of Korea and their purpose is less cut and dried. To make things a little more clear, we’re breaking down what essences do, the ways they can benefit your skin, and finally, how to determine whether or not they deserve a place in your routine.

What is an essence and where does it go in your routine?

If cleanser is like detergent, think of an essence as a fabric softener. After cleansing, you use a toner to balance your skin, and then an essence to inject a first round of moisture into freshly-cleansed skin. Notably, they also help your skin better absorb the products that follow it, rendering products like serum more effective.

After your toner has absorbed, gently apply the essence with the palm of your hand and follow it with your serum.

What’s the difference between an essence and products like toner and serum?

Essences are like the middle ground between toners and serums. They usually aren’t as light and watery as toners, but they aren’t as ultra-concentrated as serums. Since a main goal of an essence is to nourish skin, they are usually formulated with ingredients that are safe for regular, everyday use, unlike some, more targeted toner and serum formulas.

What skin concerns and skin types can benefit most from an essence?

Since an essence provides an extra layer of hydration, those with dry skin can obviously benefit. If aging is a major concern, this added boost of moisture can also help to alleviate fine lines and prevent wrinkles. And for sensitive skin types, it can aid in strengthening the skin barrier.

However even if you’re not in the groups mentioned above, there are many different essence formulations to choose from, so it’s easy to find one that addresses your specific skin concerns. For example, if you struggle with discoloration, it can be great to use an essence like the DewyTree Ultra Vitalizing Snail Essence Water, which has snail mucin to boost skin cell turnover and even out skin tone.

So do you really need an essence?

Essences aren’t a mandatory step, but they certainly do have benefits. The added hydration and nourishment essences provide will only do your skin good – especially if you are concerned about dryness, aging, or sensitivity. Plus, if a treatment product like a serum isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, using an essence could give the product the boost it needs to get the job done. Like with any product, consider your skin concerns and what ingredients best target them when choosing a formula that’s right for you.

Shop essences by skin type here! 

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