Everything you need to know about facial essences, the beauty industry’s latest trend.

More than a toner, less than a serum, facial essences have created a whole extra step in our skincare routine. But are they worth the hype? This week we deep-dive into the science of essences, including when it’s best to apply them and how your skin could benefit. Plus we share a round up seven of our favourite facial essences on the UK market right now.

What Is A Facial Essence And When Should I Use It In My Skincare Routine?

Sheet masks, pimple patches: we have a lot to thank South Korea for when it comes to innovative skincare. And the latest player to land in the UK from the Korean beauty industry is the essence. Used after cleansing, it should not be confused with a skin-stripping alcohol toner. Although it too has a lightweight water texture, it is more a treatment step to prime skin, pre-moisturisation. With a smaller molecule size than a serum, essences can deeper penetrate the skin’s surface, delivering a whole host of actives to where they are needed most – all without clogging pores.

How Can Essences Help With My Skin Concerns?

Much like every other step in your skincare routine, essences can be found to support and boost all manner of skin concerns – from dehydration to dullness. Simply add four or five drops to your hands post cleanse and pat firmly into skin for a turbo-charged facial regime, before proceeding with your usual serum and moisturiser.

7 Of The Best Facial Essences

Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence


Ideal for city dwellers, Fresh’s Essence is packed with pollution-zapping antioxidants, as well as prebiotic-rich Kombucha fermented tea extract to feed the good bacteria in your skin’s microbiome. It will keep your natural skin barrier strong and resilient and your complexion glowing and hydrated. £29. Buy it here.

The Essence

Augustinus Bader

Dr. Augustinus Bader has spent 30 years in stem cell research, unlocking the body’s innate ability to self-heal. The science within his eponymous skincare line leverages all that knowledge into a host of lotions and potions – including The Essence. Part toner, part chemical exfoliant, part hydrating essence, it’s packed with clever pore-clearing acids, hydrating hyaluronic acid, botanical actives to protect and vitamins to nourish. £65. Buy it here.

Time Retreat Radiance Essence

Eve Lom

Don’t be fooled by Eve Lom’s Time Retreat Radiance Essence’s watery appearance – it contains nine anti-ageing ingredients, including retinol and a tri-peptide complex, all designed to reduce external stress on skin to help protect and hydrate for up to 72 hours after use. £75. Buy it here.

Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Glycolic Essence


Great for combination or oily skin, Caudalie’s concentrated essence contains glycolic acid to gently dissolve dead skin cells and reveal smoother skin. Meanwhile, white peony extract brightens and Caudaile’s signature grape water balances for an even summer glow. £22. Buy it here.

Pro Collagen Marine Moisture Essence


Elemis’ Korean- inspired launch, the Pro Collagen Marine Moisture Essence, is designed to ‘flood’ the skin with mineral-rich sea spring water. A concentrated formula, it’s also packed with hyaluronic acid and Mediterranean algae for their hydrating qualities – the perfect summer addition to your skincare routine for quenched, happy, bouncy skin. £60. Buy it here.

Pink Drink Firming Essence

Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley’s peptide-infused Pink Drink Firming Essence has a whole cocktail of age-defying actives in its pretty rose waters, including prebiotics to balance the skin’s natural microbiome; vitamin-rich apricot and cucumber extracts to refresh; and green tea extract antioxidants to minimise signs of ageing. £42. Buy it here.

Redness Relief Essence


A life-saver for those for whom redness and irritation is a skin concern. Dermalogica’s treatment essence contains aloe vera to hydrate dry, tight skin, while liquorice root extract neutralises irritation. Oat-derived extracts, alongside vitamin E, soothe and nourish to calm and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. £39. Buy it here.

By Lydia Mansi
July 2021

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.