Doubles as a primer
Leaves skin dewy and plump
Improves absorption of other dewy products
High price point
Applicator isn't ideal
Tatcha The Essence
We put the Tatcha The Essence to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
The world of skincare is constantly evolving, and sometimes it seems like every day we learn about an "essential" new step to add to our routines. As we've surely all experienced, sometimes they actually are essential and sometimes... not so much. That’s why when I noticed essences were growing in popularity, I needed to thoroughly investigate before deciding if I need to use one.
It turns out that, like many of the best skincare methods, essences have a tried-and-true history in Korean skincare. An essence is similar to a toner or serum, but has its own unique benefits. In short, it is like a primer for your skincare routine, helping to bring out the best in each of the products you apply afterward. It works especially well when following up with a moisturizer because it helps to enhance hydration in a big way.
That all sounded pretty great to me, especially as someone with dry skin. So when I got the opportunity to try Tatcha’s The Essence, I could not have been more thrilled. Tatcha's products tend to instantly become staples, so I had pretty high expectations. Read on to find out if this essence lives up to the hype (spoiler alert: You might want to clear some room on your skincare shelf).
Best for: All skin types.
Uses: A daily essence that helps with dryness, improving skin hydration, dullness, and fine lines.
Potential allergens: Not likely
Hero ingredients: Hadasei-3
Byrdie Clean? Yes
About the brand: Tatcha is a cult-favorite skincare brand best known for creating high-quality products rooted in Japanese skincare secrets. Some of the brand’s most popular products include The Water Cream moisturizer and The Silk Powder.
About My Skin: Tired and dehydrated
If I had to break down my skin concerns into three main points, I would say that my skin is breakout-prone, dry, and tired. Lately, my skin has been looking especially dull and lackluster, so I’ve been incorporating products into my routine to help with hydration and vibrance. I’ve also been sticking strictly to lightweight products, as I despise feeling like I have any product on while I’m out in the sun (except for sunscreen, of course). I also have sensitive skin, so I make sure to avoid any products that have too much fragrance, as I might experience breakouts or irritation as a result.
How to Apply: Pat, don't rub
One very important thing to keep in mind when using Tatcha's The Essence is to gently pat it into your skin instead of using a cotton pad or rubbing it in. If I hadn’t read the package ahead of time, I would have definitely tried a cotton pad since that's how I usually apply watery formulas. Patting the product into your skin allows for it to really seep in before you go in with other moisturizers or serums.
Tatcha Expert Dr. Jenny Liu, MD told us that this product is good for use twice daily: “After cleansing and toning (if used), gently pat [the essence] onto skin and then follow with serum, moisturizer, and SPF (AM only).”
The Feel: Lightweight and refreshing
From the bottle to your hand, the formula of Tatcha's The Essence feels watery and lightweight. Truth be told, this was the one aspect of the product that I didn't enjoy. I love a lightweight formula, but I don't want the product to dissolve in my hand. The watery formula isn't a dealbreaker for me, though, as once you pat it in, you're instantly hit with hydration—just like you're splashing luxurious water onto your skin. Once on, the lightweight formula felt invisible on my skin, yet after I followed up with moisturizer, I could feel the product amplifying its benefits. I ended up with glowing skin that was so dewy, I didn't want to follow up with makeup.
The Ingredients: Active fermented Japanese superfoods
What really sets Tatcha's The Essence apart from other skincare products is the top-tier ingredients list. “Fermented skincare creates natural AHAs, lactic acid, amino acids, other minerals, and nutrients that can be beneficial for skin hydration and improving skin texture and tone," Dr. Liu explains. “The Essence is now 100% Hadasei-3, Tatcha’s proprietary complex of Akita rice, Okinawa algae, and Uji green tea, which undergo a double fermentation process.”
Dr. Liu also shares that the formula includes rice, which has been “used by Asian women for centuries” and is helpful for hydration and evening tone. Additionally, the formula contains green tea, which has “antioxidants and soothing properties potentially beneficial for wrinkles, sebum control, and acne.”
The Results: Dewy, hydrated skin
After about a week of using Tatcha's The Essence, I saw that my skin was more hydrated and refreshed than it's been in a long time. I loved how I was able to see immediate results, and I think it helped to give my other skincare products an extra boost, which was also great.
As I mentioned before, my skin had a luxurious, dewy look that I loved so much, I decided against using makeup when I went out. Instead, I just embraced my renewed, glowing skin. Even though this product is way more expensive than what I would usually spend on everyday skincare, I think that I would absolutely repurchase it. I can see it being especially beneficial during the winter months, when my skin needs moisture most.
The Value: Expensive, but worth it
Tatcha is a higher-end skincare brand, so I wasn’t shocked when I saw that The Essence will run you a cool $105 for a 5.1-oz. bottle. While I initially questioned if the price was justified, after a few days of using the product, I concluded that it's worth investing in if you're looking for luxurious hydration.
The stellar ingredient list and opulent formula justify the price, but the amount you get for your money is what makes me question it. The bottle is quite big compared to other luxury products that cost the same, but I found that to get the results I craved, I truly had to use a palmful of the product like suggested, which made the product run down a bit faster than I would have expected. The spout dispenser didn’t help with this, either: I prefer to have a dropper with watery formulas, or basically anything that isn’t a spout. Even still, I think the bottle will last me a few months, so given how impressive my results were I can see the product being worth it if it's what you're looking for.
Similar Products: You've got options
Le Mieux Essence Toner: This essence toner ($24) from Le Mieux helps with signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. The price point is significantly lower than Tatcha’s, making it a more affordable alternative.
SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($99) is another liquid lightweight formula that helps to lock in and enhance moisture and vibrance. Additionally, it can help with dark spots and pores.
Tatcha’s The Essence lived up to all my expectations, and the hydrated, dewy look I got after each use was unbeatable. I think it’s an investment product everybody should have on their radar, especially if you're looking for an extra boost of hydration.
- Product Name The Essence
- Product Brand Tatcha
- Price $105
- Weight 5.1 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Saccharomyces, Camellia Sinensis Leaf, Cladosiphon Okamuranus, Rice Ferment Filtrate, Propanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.