What is an Essence and How to Use It

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Korean beauty brands are slowly but surely taking over the shelves of Sephora and other big retailers, however, sometimes the classification of Asian products can be a bit confusing. While most of us know how to use cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers, Korean beauty buffs have about a dozen more words in their skincare lingo. We’re talking about boosters, essences, finishers, mists, ampoules, emulsions etc… Where do they all belong in terms of layering order? Today I’ll touch on the most popular type among these “exotic” products and one you are most likely to encounter in Western shops – the essences.

What is an essence? How to apply and layer Korean essences? How are essences different from serums? These and more questions - answered!


So, what is an essence and how do you use it? It took me a long time to figure out when I first got into k-beauty. After all they are so different from one another, and can sometimes be indistinguishable from serums and runny lotions. A typical Korean essence is lightweight, almost watery and often comes in a bottle with a pump dispenser or a dropper. What makes it unique is the concentration of active ingredients, as essences are generally less potent than serums and ampoules. Most of them are very runny and can be applied to cleansed skin right after your favorite toner and prior to serum and moisturizer. Due to their liquid nature they work extremely well with other products and almost never cause pilling and formula clashes, which is another reason why Korean women love layering them for maximum benefits. View Post