Face Essence - Everything You Need To Know

Face Essence - Everything You Need To Know

What is a facial essence?

'Originating from the Korean beauty industry, a facial essence – not to be confused with a toner – essentially works as a primer for your moisturiser whilst also including a lot of extra benefits for the skin,' explains Julia Marinkovich of COSRX.

We know what you're thinking – sounds just like a face serum, no? Honestly, you'd be right: facial essences and serums are much of the same. 'Essences have similar benefits to a serum, and with a lower molecular weight than most creams, they work to penetrate the skin at a deeper level than your average moisturiser,' says Marinkovich. The best essences out there combine various benefits in one, working to hydrate, balance, soothe or exfoliate, depending on the formulation.

So plainly speaking, an essence is predominantly a watery alternative to a serum, used to deliver targetted actives to the skin and supercharge the rest of your routine. If you're largely happy with your existing product line-up there's no need to invest – but if breakouts are persisting or your skin feels dry by lunchtime, you might benefit from adding in an essence. What’s more, if you’re trying to obtain the super-hydrated, dewy skin of Insta-filter fame, a light layer of a humectant-rich facial essence may just get you there.

How to use a facial essence

Speaking of effectiveness, correct application is crucial here – and that means ditching the cotton pads. ‘Some people like to apply 2-3 pumps to a cotton wool pad and sweep over the face, but this means a lot of the essence just sits in your pad, and you end up wasting quite a bit of product,' says Marinkovich. She recommends treating an essence like a serum when it comes to application, 'dispensing 4-5 pumps of the essence into the palms of your hands, then pressing the product gently into your skin.'

The best face essences to try now

As with all things in skincare, there’s now an endless array of face essences to choose from, each one promising different benefits. Here, see the best ones we’ve tried – and the skin types they suit.

A hydrating formula with ultra-pure, vegan hyaluronic acid


To effectively moisturize your skin, leaving it shiny.


Visibly smooths fine lines and wrinkles and clarifies pores immediately and over time.


A depuffing solution for tired eyes-lifts, firms, and de-puffs under and around the eye for brighter, fresher, youthful-looking skin!


Restores radiance and clarity to dull, tired skin​,Smooths away fine lines and uneven texture​,Visibly firms and improves elasticity.





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