Cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser, mask… the world of skincare can be confusing at the best of times. Now, however, there are more product categories than ever before, in part thanks to the rise of Korean skincare, which often recommends over ten stages to an everyday regime.
One category you might not have come across before is that of essences. But what actually is an essence? And does everyone need one? In the beauty world, opinion is still split, so we asked the experts for both sides of the argument so you can decide for yourself.
In basic terms, an essence is a lotion that falls after toning and before your serum, and serves to provide extra skincare benefits. Advocates claim that essences contain concentrated active ingredients and so can treat a variety of skin ailments, while critics claim that they are essentially serums in a different packaging.
According to clinical facialist, Kate Kerr, you’d be better off forgetting about essences. “Personally, I’m not a fan of essences. This is purely because the active cosmeceutical serums I recommend are effective enough without needing to use them, come backed by clinical science and are proven to deliver improvement in skin health and function.” In this way, she says, essences are often an unnecessary extra step.
“Over my two decades in the industry, I have seen a lot of trends come and go, however, proven ingredients stand the test of time and don’t change as quickly as people may think. If you look at cosmeceutical skincare, you’ll see that the key actives are consistently the same, for example, retinol, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C and peptides, to name the most prominent, this is because they are clinically proven to deliver measurable results for the skin,” she adds.
On the flip side, co-founder of Korean-inspired skincare and makeup brand, Katalin Berenvi, believes an essence is defined by the superior results it provides. “Essences always target a very specific need, whether that be treating pigmentation, warding off wrinkles or preventing dullness,” she says. “They tend to be highly concentrated in terms of the ingredients and transparent in colour, like the Erborian Dongbaek Camellia Essence.” This particular essence contains 73% camellia oil, alongside flaxseed, grapeseed, coconut and argan oils, which act to deeply nourish the skin, either in place of a serum or as well as for a double-whammy of moisture.
The final verdict is up to you, but the most important thing is to get to know your skin’s needs and the products that help you feel like the kween you really are. Yas!