Essence and serums are two products that I began using in earnest last year. I started using essence for added hydration in the winter and serum for brightening and dealing with blemishes.
The concept behind essence and why it’s great to have as part of your routine is its ability to help prep skin for the absorption and efficacy of all the subsequent products that you layer on your skin. Your skincare products won’t be as effective if they get stuck on the top external layer of your skin, they need to be able to penetrate to deeper levels, so essences will ideally help in this regard.
According to sokoglam.com:
“You’ll see more results from essence than any other product because it treats skin at a cellular level. Essence is a concentrated formula that specifically targets wrinkles, fine lines and dull and uneven skintones.”
My essence journey started with May Coop’s Raw Sauce! What a name for a product huh? So much about this was new to me, from the star ingredient (maple sap water,) to the texture, to introducing it as a step in my skincare routine. I’m currently on my fourth bottle; I usually get the travel size as it lasts me through the winter, when the weather gets warmer I switch to an essence that’s lighter in texture. To me this delivers on hydration, the essence’s consistency is sorta viscous but goes on smoothly and blends into the skin, doesn’t leave any kind of weird residue.
As my spiral into K-beauty continued I started to read raves about Missha’s First Treatment Essence and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! Let me tell you it is everything! The consistency is very watery, super light, so you pat it into your skin. Whenever I’m having breakouts this is my go-to along with Tony Moly’s Snail Gel for calming and soothing my skin. In my experience, overnight I’ll see the spots reduce in size and I think it helps them avoid turning into whiteheads. Whenever I skip on this essence during the warmer months my skin gets unhappy really quickly.
I was excited to try this essence because it’s loaded with fermented ingredients and it’s been said to be a close duplicate of SKII‘s iconic first treatment essence—which usually retails for $90, eek!—but it costs a fraction of the price, I recommend looking around Amazon for deals on it.
I’m a huge fan and just got through my first bottle, which lasted me seven months with twice a day daily use! So, as you can see it’s a great investment and you get great results in terms of skin soothing, smoother skin texture and brightness.
When it comes to serums I first tried a stateside brand carried by Whole Foods called Mad Hippie and was super satisfied with the results. I currently use two serums from them, the Exfoliating serum and the Vitamin C serum. I switch off at nights between the two and use the vitamin C one on a daily basis in the mornings (wearing sunscreen while on a vitamin C regimen is super important, plus if you use a mineral one with zinc it’ll help increase its efficacy.)
I love the Exfoliating Serum, it is packed with some true super stars including glycolic acid and lactic acid which exfoliate, fight discoloration and wrinkles. It’s also got ceramide, sodium hyaluronate and squalane which are fantastic moisturizers, along with goji berry and white tea which have excellent antioxidant properties! Needless to say there’s a lot of skin loving stuff in here. I use this every other day as a chemical exfoliant and to help with brightness and even skin tone.
I’m currently on my second bottle of the Vitamin C serum, it’s loaded with antioxidants: vitamin e, ferulic acid, grapefruit. Moisturizing powerhouse hyaluronate acid, nutrient rich konjac root powder, soothing chamomile and clary sage which balances sebum production and has toning and astringent properties. The big difference between this and other vitamin C serums is that it doesn’t use L-Ascorbic Acid, instead it uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a more stable and bioavailable form of vitamin C; it provides the same benefits, without the risk of oxidation and irritation that is often associated with l-ascorbic acid. I’ve seen great results with this and I highly recommend it.
Over the winter break I picked up Drunk Elephant’s Day Glow duo, a Vitamin B-Hydra and C-Firma set that work fantastically together. These 8 ml travel size bottles go the distance and can last close to a month with everyday use if you’re doing like 3 pumps each time.
Anyway I love, love the B-Hydra serum, the product description says it all,
“Like a cool drink of water for your thirsty skin, B-Hydra™ is a moisturizing gel that provides nutrients, improves the feel of skin’s texture, and delivers long lasting hydration. Uniquely formulated with pro-vitamin B and pineapple ceramide, B-Hydra™ works to replenish moisture, helping to diminish drabness, dryness, uneven texture and the appearance of fine lines.”
I wore that serum plus Dr. Jart’s Water Drop moisturizer while on the beach and my makeup days looked flawless!
I find the Vitamin C serum to be equally effective in a short amount of time.
C-Firma is a super potent vitamin C day serum packed with a powerful antioxidant complex of 15% l-ascboric acid and ferulic acid, plus essential nutrients, fruit enzymes and a chronopeptide that transforms into vitamin D. This formulation works synergistically to help skin look firmer and brighter.
I really loved using it, the full-sized bottle’s price point is pretty steep at around $80, I haven’t committed to buy because Mad Hippie’s vitamin C serum is around $35 and it’s been very effective for me. But if you have it in your budget definitely give this serum a try or grab the travel-size Day Glow set for around $28.
During my research Korean brand Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C serum kept getting rave reviews so I purchased it. It took me a month or so to get into it, I was not a huge fan of the feeling it left on my skin, but once I started to use it both night and day I saw tremendous results in terms of skin clarity and fading blemishes. After using it religiously for two months I understand why it got such great reviews, however it only has 5% l-ascorbic acid, while Drunk Elephant’s has 15% l-ascorbic acid in it, but Drunk Elephant’s also costs about twice as much.
So in terms of potency Klairs is probably a great intro vitamin C product to use if you haven’t tried a vitamin C serum before and want to start off with something mild.
Both essences and serums are two of my favorite products that I’ve added to my routine. If I get lazy and forego them, my skin definitely rebels a bit.
Next up, sheet masking! These affordable one time use masks have been popping up everywhere from Sephora to Urban Outfitters and starting around $3 a pop they can be a nice treat for your skin.