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What Is an Essence? Understanding This Skincare Staple

How To Use a Skin Essence In Your Routine

Many aspects of the skincare world can be downright confusing if you’re not continually reading up on the latest beauty trends and technologies. Ingredients often sound like they’re plucked straight out of a chemistry textbook, skincare tools aren’t always the most user-friendly—even figuring out how to layer products can be a bit bewildering. And then, there are the products themselves. Essentials like cleansers and sunscreens are pretty straightforward, but when it comes to less-obvious products like toners and essences, things can get murky. 

But don’t fret, you have us on your side. Here, we’ll be reviewing what might be the most poorly understood skincare product of all: Facial essence. Ahead, we’ll teach you what a skin essence is, what they’re used for, and how they differ from other skincare staples, like facial toners and serums. We’ll also introduce you to our two best skin essences and teach you how to use them in your daily skincare routine. Get ready to brush up on skincare 101. Read on for your crash course on essence skincare.

Iris Activating Treatment Essence

What Is an Essence For Skin?

Officially, an “essence” is defined as a plant-derived substance that contains the plant’s characteristic properties in a highly-concentrated form. While useful for some purposes, this definition doesn’t tell you much about what essence skincare products are.

At Kiehl’s, we define a facial essence—sometimes called a skin essence—as a thin, watery skincare leave-on treatment designed to help prep your skin for moisture. Like oil cleansers and sheet masks, essences first became popular stateside with the introduction (and subsequent explosive popularity) of the Korean 10-step beauty routine. Though their primary purpose is to prime the skin, essences may help enhance the penetration of your more potent skincare products, ultimately boosting the overall efficacy of your routine. This differs from toners, which are usually meant to help cleanse the skin, and serums, which help address specific concerns, like enlarged pores or skin discolorations.

Iris Activating Treatment Essence

How To Use a Facial Essence

Essences are generally applied as one of the earlier steps in your skincare routine—usually after cleansing and toning but before applying serum. Of course, the exact usage instructions will depend on the specific essence you’re using (in other words, always read the package carefully to ensure you’re using your product as intended). Here, we’ll give you the details on Kiehl’s best skin essences and teach you how to use these power-packed products in your daily (or nightly) routine.

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