Beauty

Skin care 101: What exactly is an essence?

Skin care 101: What exactly is an essence?

Beauty

Skin care 101: What exactly is an essence?

Cleanse and moisturize—those are the basic steps many Canadian women follow for their skin-care routine. However, according to our Korean counterparts we’re missing many crucial steps, including adding an essence. Once you know what it is, you’ll never skip this step again. 

If you’re a skin care sleuth or even if you’re not—there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the infamous Korean 7 + step beauty routine. While some products are totally familiar to us western beauty consumers, other categories are a little more mysterious, like essences. 

What is an essence?
Firstly, we’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a toner, it’s not a lotion and it’s not a serum. So what is this mystery fluid? Essences were created and made popular in Korea and Japan over two decades ago. Much like serums, they are a highly concentrated treatment, the main difference is that its consistency is more water-like. But just because they're more watery than serums, that doesn't mean they're watered-down. In fact, many of them are even more concentrated and hydrating than serums. They contain active ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants and moisturizing agents such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.


When do you apply an essence?
It’s a key step in the Korean 7 step method. After cleanser (if you’re doing the Korean method, double cleanse) and after toner comes the essence. Post-toning, pat an essence into skin using your fingers. Keep patting until the product is fully absorbed and your skin is almost dry—next it’s on to serum. 

We should all be hopping on the essence wave. Here, five essences totally worth adding to your skin-care ritual. 

 

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 Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence


Kombucha is a probiotic-rich fermented tea that’s really blown up in North America in the last few years. It’s also quickly becoming a favourite ingredient in skin care. In late fall, Fresh Beauty launched a silky liquid, a.k.a. an essence, that fights free-radical damage, protects against pollution and boasts skin luminosity thanks to fermented sweet black tea. Worried it might have a funky scent? We can assure you it smells light and delightful. 

Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence, $85, sephora.ca

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Biotherm Life Plankton Essence 

Biotherm was one of the biggest skin-care brands to launch an essence in North America. Biotherm’s Life Plankton Essence continuous to be a top seller for the French company since its launch in 2014. Thermal Plankton is at the core of the brand, they’ve been using it since 1952, however, in this formula they have the highest concentration, five per cent. This was never possible in a cream because an essence provides a more stable environment. The ingredient is shown to accelerate cellular renew, smooth inflamed skin and protect from offer protection from the environment. 

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence, $75, biotherm.ca
 

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Erborian Korean Skin Therapy Dongbaek Camellia Essence

The key ingredient in this essence is camellia, which is a wildflower from Korea. Camellia teamed with other nourishing oils such as macadamia seed, argan and sunflower seed deeply hydrates and soothes the skin. 

Erborian Korean Skin Therapy Dongbaek Camellia Essence, $69, thebay.com.

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Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence

Shaped like a water bottle—but for your skin—this elixir contains high levels of squalene (a highly-effective emollient and natural antioxidant), pomegranate extract and a patented complex the helps accelerate cell turnover. 

Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence, $58, sephora.ca.

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Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence

The pricey-est one on this list is from Korean beauty brand Amore Pacific. It uses anti-oxidant rich vintage (aka, fermented green tea leaves).The leaves are harvested from the brand’s Dolsongi tea garden on Korea's Jeju island. The vintage tea is fermented for 50 days and aged in earthenware for another 50 days, creating a concentrated skin superfood. The bold brew helps improve the skin’s texture, elasticity and clarity. 

Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence, $200, sephora.ca

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Do I need a toner?

Need? No. Want? Maybe. Toners are liquid formulas used for purifying skin after cleansing. The old-school versions were astringent fluids strictly used to reduce oiliness, but the new generation does so much more. Sometimes known as tonics, mists or elixirs, they’re brimming with antioxidants, soothing agents and vital hydrating ingredients.

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I’m looking for a full-coverage under-eye concealer that won’t accentuate lines. Any ideas?

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What’s the difference between dehydrated skin and just plain old dry skin?

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I’m looking for a full-coverage foundation that won’t dry out my already-parched skin. Any ideas?

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Skin care 101: What exactly is an essence?

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