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What exactly is an essence and is it necessary for healthier skin?

We know what you’re thinking — is this yet another skincare product you have to add to your ever-growing skincare regimen? New skincare products are introduced almost every day, accompanied by claims such as “use this for youthful-looking skin”, “this can give you a poreless complexion” or “brighter skin is achievable with this brand new serum”. It gives us the assumption that we have to use all of the above to get healthy and youthful-looking skin.

As for essences — it’s not exactly a brand new product but many are still confused with its purpose. The SK-II‘s iconic Facial Treatment Essence — which is what many consumers call the miracle water, might ring a bell.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is one of the most iconic essences in the world.

So, what exactly is an essence? It’s not a toner that many have mistaken it as due to similar liquid texture, nor is it a serum or moisturiser. Its consistency is slightly thicker than a toner, but weighs lighter than a serum — so that it can penetrate deeper into the skin as compared to the latter products. Depending on your skin concern, we’re pretty sure there’s one for you. A hydrating essence usually contains hyaluronic acid to amplify your skin’s hydration levels while those that promises brighter and glowing skin (which are the more popular ones) usually contain glycolic acid.

In general, essences target fine lines, wrinkles, dull and uneven skin tone — somewhat a lighter version of a serum. Don’t get us wrong, there’s no such thing that an essence is less effective than a serum. But for those who have sensitive skin and constantly suffer from breakouts, the lighter formula of an essence is one step to getting your skin well prepped before applying additional skincare products. If you’re confused with the sequence, you start out by cleansing, apply toner, essence, serum and then moisturiser.

Here comes the big question: is it really necessary to include an essence into your skincare regimen? Our answer, yes and no. It’s not a must-have as a good serum would suffice for the job. An essence, however, can be used as an alternative to serum (if you’ve not started the serum regime yet) since it has a lighter consistency and it’s great for those who have oily skin.

If you picked yes, here are five essences for you to try.

What exactly is an essence and is it necessary for healthier skin?

Jolin Lee


Unlike most modern-day millennials, Jolin does not need caffeine or alcohol to power through the day (and night). Her eye for beauty is as sharp as her eyeliner flick, and she can spot your unblended eye makeup from a mile away.

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