Korean Skincare: Step 5. Essence

skin quench

Step 5: Essence

The essence step is really what makes a Korean Skincare routine. Essence, also known as “skin,” has recently popped up in western skincare conversations, so it might be hard for some to comprehend exactly what it is. Essences are not as thin as toners, but they’re not as thick as serums either. These products are typically a thin, watery, or gel-like texture. They are somewhere in between, hence why it is applied at this stage.

Essences should be used both morning and night for optimal results. Their main purpose is to provide moisture and hydration, prepping the skin to absorb the following steps. It’s typical to find that an essence adds bounce, brightness, and firmness to your skin. It’s often what starts that “honey skin” look as well. While an essence is meant to initiate the moisturization process, it can also target specific concerns like aging, acne, exfoliation, or even redness.

Once I discovered essences, it was like finding a key to a secret passage way to success. I feel like so many of my skin concerns have been alleviated just by adding an essence into my routine. Some people may think this is an unnecessary step, but I often find if I skip it, I have that lackluster feeling like something’s missing.

Essences often come in bottles that allow you to pour out a few drops at a time. In this case, you pour a few drops into your palms and gently pat into the skin. There are also bottles with droppers, which allow you to apply directly to your face and massage or pat in. Mists or sprays have become popular too. They are convenient for application as well as misting midday, or on-the-go. An essence is often easy to layer because they are so thin. This is extremely helpful for added moisture, especially in cold or dry months.

Like I said, there are a wide variety of essences. Finding one that works for you is really about trial and error. I’ve tried a decent amount of essences and have discovered some great ones that work for my combo acne-prone skin. Check them out!

COSRX, Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

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Photo: sokoglam.com


This COSRX snail essence is a K-Beauty favorite. It was one of the first essences I tried and a reliable one at that. This convenient pump bottle is filled with 96% snail mucin and hyaluronic acid. Snail mucin is an extremely important ingredient in K-Beauty. It may sound gross, but the properties found in snail mucin are extremely powerful. It is known to heal acne, brighten scars, fight signs of aging, as well as tighten, firm, and moisturize the skin. In fact, I’ve seen all these improvements when using this product.

This essence is on the sticky side, but a little goes a long way. It’s a great way to introduce an essence into your routine. Simply pump into your hands 2 to 3 times and pat into your face and neck. There is 3.38 oz. of product in the bottle for $19, which is pretty good. You can easily find this product on Soko Glam, Amazon, and possibly Ulta. If you are lost on essences, definitely start here.

Neogen, Real Ferment Micro Essence

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Photo: sokoglam.com


I’ve mentioned this product multiple times before, and with good reason! This essence is magic. The Neogen essence has 93% fermented ingredients including bifida ferment lysate, saccharomyces ferment filtrate, and rice ferment filtrate. Fermented ingredients are amazing for really moisturizing, healing, and plumping the skin. Other star ingredients include birch juice, green tea, hyaluronic acid, adenosine, and niacinamide.

I always, always, always have honey skin when I use this essence. It helps brighten my skin and heal any blemishes. This essence is a little pricey, but it usually lasts me a while as the bottle holds about 5 oz. I pour a few drops into my palms and pat into the skin. My skin instantly becomes bouncy and bright when I use this, no joke! I love to layer it 2 to 3 times during the colder months too. You can purchase this product on Soko Glam. Highly recommend!

Hanskin, Hyaluron Skin Essence



I mentioned this essence before as well and it’s a great go-to. It applies like thickened water, but will add in moisture X 100. It’s on the pricier side, but a little seriously goes  a long way with 10.14 oz. In fact, I have this same bottle from last year! This is one of my winter staples, but you can find me adding it into my routine anytime of year, just to give my skin a little oomf and glow.

This product includes hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid. If you suffer from dry or combo skin, especially during the winter, it’s so worth the splurge. You can purchase this essence on Soko Glam.

Botanic Farm, Rice Ferment First Essence

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Photo: sokoglam.com


I also discussed this essence in my All Eyes on Rice post. It’s great for killing two birds with one stone. Not only do ingredients like fermented rice water, licorice root extract, and hyaluronic acid hydrate the skin, but lactic acid also exfoliates.

This product is gentle enough for daily use. It’s a power house when it comes to fading dark spots. Both fermented rice water and lactic acid work together in double time. I always see quick results with this. My skin becomes brighter, softer, and more plump by the next day. It helps fight acne too! Soko Glam calls this product “youth in a bottle” and I so agree. This essence is a moderate price for the quality, and it lasts a good while.

Farmacy, Skin Dew

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I reviewed this essence mist a few weeks ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it! The mist can be used as an essence, to set makeup, or refresh your skin throughout the day. The Echinacea GreenEnvy, coined by Farmacy Beauty, shines in this product. Some other ingredients to note are kiwi extract, peppermint oil, orange peel oil, basil extract, bergamot oil, lime extract, rosemary leaf oil, turmeric root extract, ginger root oil, and aloe extract. This mist smells like eden’s herb garden; it’s so heavenly!

Skin Dew really helps heal, calm, and prevent breakouts. Simply mist all over the face, and pat in or let air dry. The product made my skin very dewy and moisturized as well. The bottle holds 3.3 fl. oz. I think the price point is high, but it is an amazing product with quality ingredients. This might be something to treat yourself to every once in a while.  I bought this mist at Sephora (for the points), but you can also find it on the Farmacy Beauty website.

Acwell, Licorice pH Balancing Essence Mist

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Lately I’ve been loving this essence mist collaboration by Soko Glam X Acwell. It was created based off of the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner, a Best of K-Beauty Winner. This super star mist has ultra calming, nourishing, and moisturizing ingredients like licorice root extract, bamboo water, algae extract, royal jelly extract, and centella asiatica leaf water.

This essence has a milky texture which really adds to it’s moisturizing qualities. The scent reminds me of an Earl Grey tea with milk and honey, mmm. I usually mist this product all over my face and pat into the skin. It instantly soaks in, brightens, hydrates, and provides that bouncy quality. This product acts as an essence, serum, and maybe a moisturizer for some. I think this essence is at a great price point. With 3.8 fl. oz. it has lasted me a long time, especially since I mist during the day too. Check it out on Soko Glam!

Skinfood, Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence

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This essence is the thickest, richest one I’ve tried so far. It’s full of nutrition and moisture with 63% propolis extract, honey extract, royal jelly extract, lactobacillus ferment, and saccharomyces ferment. It’s got the triple A factor: antioxidants, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.

I’m currently using this essence too, and I love it for the calming and moisturizing effects. It’s super helpful for any active breakouts, and dry skin. I apply by dispensing the dropper 3 to 4 times around my face, and massage and pat in. This essence is on the pricier end because you only get 1.69 oz. of product, but it’s because of all those quality ingredients. It has lasted me a long time, so it’s definitely worth the money. I purchased this item from Soko Glam.

Have you learned about essences prior to this post? Let me know which ones have changed your life.

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