Essences are often confused with toners, while they can be used together or interchangeably they have different purposes and yield different results. A toner is used after you cleanse to prep and prime the skin to allow it to better absorb the actives that follow in a routine. An essence on the other hand is a water-light formula that treats the skin, delivering a potent dose of actives and hydration deep into the skin.
What Is An Essence?
A lightweight fluid viscosity formulated with a high concentration of actives – rich in plant extracts, potent hydrators and most commonly, antioxidants – which can all penetrate easily deep into the skin due to their low molecular weight. An essence can follow, or be used instead of your toner, and before applying your serums and moisturiser. Essences also work synergistically with the hydrating ingredients in your serums and moisturisers, boosting their absorption. The sensorial element to their application – one of gently pressing into the skin either with your fingertips or a soft cotton round – is one I find always helps me destress, flush stagnant lymph and promote a healthful radiance.
What To Look For In An Essence?
From mists to ‘waters’, there is a wide variety of essences on the market which cater to virtually every skin concern. A few hero ingredients to keep an eye out for are…
Known for being able to bind up to 1000 times its weight in water, this super-hydrator attracts and locks moisture into the skin.
Kombucha, fermented green tea and yeast extracts are mainstays in many essences. Fermented ingredients offer brightening and resurfacing benefits, as well as supporting healthy barrier function.
The less common sister of AHAs and BHAs, PHAs work to gently exfoliate deep into the pores, regulate oil production, hydrate and soften hyperpigmentation.
These plant-derived ingredients can naturally brighten the skin while providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Look for ingredients such as acerola, microalgae, kakadu plum and gotu kola.