For some, the standard cleanse, tone, and moisturize regimen is already a lot to ask (no judgment). Which is why, if we told you to add another step to your skincare routine, we’d expect a a few groans. It’s cool—we get it. But what if we told you this extra step takes almost no effort, and really does deliver that fresh-faced, healthy glow?
Allow us to introduce you to facial essences. Much-loved in Korea and as common as toner or serum, it’s the crucial step your skincare routine has been missing. (For real though—since this editor started using one, her annoyingly oily skin has gotten way less shiny and is noticeably brighter). To get the inside scoop, we spoke with Alicia Yoon, our resident Korean beauty expert and co-founder of Peach & Lily (a.k.a. your gateway to the best in Asian beauty), and asked her to give us the lowdown on this little-known (but soon to be everywhere) skincare trend. Keep scrolling to learn all about facial essences!
Yoon offers this helpful analogy to explain how essences work: “Think of your skin like a sponge,” she says. “When a sponge is dry, it feels super brittle and isn’t absorbent. You can put serums on it, but it will just sit on the top layer and won’t absorb well. Now, wet your sponge—it becomes fluffy and moist. You put a drop of oil on it, and it will absorb in an instant.”
Beyond hydration, a lot of essences also pack in antioxidants and active ingredients to treat your skin on a “cellular level” (a phrase brands like to use, which Yoon explains should always be supported by studies). But Yoon says essences primary functions are to act as a “prepper” (for your following skin products), and “booster” (to make those products work even better).