In Asia, more women use essences than creams in their skin-care regimen—it’s a beauty and anti-aging staple overseas, but stateside, many people are still wondering if that extra step is really worth it. If we’re judging by the abundance of benefits these 10 formulas deliver, the answer is astoundingly, YES! Not only are essences super lightweight—they feel like water on your skin and absorb instantly—but they’re also an easy solution for hydrating dry skin. Here are 10 of the top essences we think you should know about.
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La Mer The Brightening Essence Intense ($345)
For skin that needs a boost in tone and clarity, this essence offers major brightening benefits. Loaded with the brand’s VibraWhite Ferment Blend, the formulation has a milky consistency that absorbs instantly to soften and hydrate skin while creating a seriously luminous complexion.
Primera Miracle Seed Essence ($58)
This concentrated essence is light in texture, yet powerful in the hydration department—apply it to clean skin to create a smooth surface that doesn’t feel dry, tight or itchy. Over time, skin is noticeably more hydrated (thanks to key ingredient lotus seeds) and even in tone. Plus, it comes with 70 natural cotton pads(!): Soak the pad and gently press it into your skin.
SK-II Mid-Day Essence ($80)
The sister product to the brand’s cult-classic Facial Treatment Essence, this spray-on version keeps skin fresh, hydrated and guarded from environmental aggressors thanks to key ingredient Pitera, the brand’s vitamin-rich yeast extract. Use it alone, before or after applying your makeup, or throughout the day to wake up tired-looking skin and give your makeup a dewy effect.
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence ($52)
A favorite in Korea packed with fermented yeast and niacinamide, this essence works to promote healthier, stronger skin by strengthening its protective barrier, shielding against sun damage and refreshing its overall look and feel for a healthy glow.
BIOEFFECT EGF Essence ($99)
Think of this skin-care power player as a serum and essence in one that works on all skin types to reduce signs of aging and breathe life back into lackluster skin. Barley-based EGF (epidermal growth factor) helps moisturize dry areas and prepare the skin for subsequent lotions and potions, making them more effective.
Shani Darden Daily Toning Essence ($52)
Oily skin types will love this sake water essence—beloved aesthetician and brand founder Shani Darden calls it a “serious multitasker.” Apply it at night after washing your face—once your skin acclimates, you can use it twice a day—to keep sebum production in check, smooth your skin’s surface and make pores appear smaller.
Éminence Organic Skin Care Birch Water Purifying Essence ($52)
Did you know birch water is one of nature’s best detoxifiers? This super silky, birch water–infused essence not only increases circulation in the skin as it helps remove daily toxins, but also allows any products you apply afterward to absorb exponentially better for higher skin-care payoff.
Estée Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion ($105)
Relying on its proprietary Micro-Nutrient Bio-Ferment complex, this fragrance-free essence works to reset your skin by hydrating, strengthening and calming it, and has a lotion-like consistency that almost feels cool on the skin as it dries.
This Works No Wrinkles Wonder Essence ($55)
Inspired by Asian beauty, this skin perfecter uses exfoliating enzymes to lift away dead skin cells while infusing skin with a dose of hyaluronic acid for hydration. Expect a clearer complexion, fewer lines and less dullness with continued use.
Lumene Nordic-C Glow Boost Essence ($25)
This vegan radiance booster is super concentrated yet quick to absorb, chock-full of antioxidant-rich wild arctic cloudberry and vitamin C that helps minimize hyperpigmentation with each use. It also packs double-duty hydration benefits, as hyaluronic acid and pure arctic spring water promote long-term moisturization and plumping action.