I think Derek Zoolander’s Merman ad put it best: “Water is the essence of wetness and wetness is the essence of beauty.”
If BB creams were the Korean beauty trend of 2014 and last year the sheet mask reigned supreme, the newest must-have import to hit North American shelves has to be essences. Yes, essences, which I tend to describe by what they aren’t.
Not a toner. Not really a serum. Not a cream. Not quite an elixir. So what the heck are essences and why does my face need them?
These often water-based solutions are mega-hydrators, detoxifiers and anti-aging workers, which, for a combination-skin-but-more-on-the-dry-side girl like myself, is good news. They’re also rammed with impressive ingredients and have long been revered in Asian beauty circles—usually a good sign—which is why I’m taking a closer look and picking faves.
An essence like Prevage’s easily slips into my cleansing routine, and while ideally it would be used post-toner, since I don’t really go for the stuff, it goes right onto my freshly cleansed skin. The application is a little less than obvious since after it gets wiped onto my face with a cotton pad, the instructions tell me to gently press it into my skin with my fingertips for full absorption. And you know what, it feels good. This one gives my skin an intense shot of moisture and protects it against environmental elements that, in a densely populated city like Toronto, is so necessary.
The Bee Venom 24 Carat Gold Super Essence is for ballers only—with a steep price tag of nearly $500—but liquid gold is for closers after all. The gilded serum adds not only immediate luminosity to my skin, it’s also jam-packed with, yes, bee venom, which promotes blood circulation and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles. Its main selling points are the anti-aging effects and wrinkle reduction as opposed to boosting moisture.
Who doesn’t love a product that works while you’re catching up on precious sleep? The French brand’s Orchidée Impériale Night Detoxifying Essence has dual effectiveness going for it, namely a potent combo of oil and water, so the layers are visibly suspended in the sleek, cylindrical bottle. The essence also smells like a delightful combination of orchid, duh, cedarwood, rose and white musk and comes out as a translucent navy but, not to worry, goes on clear.
If your initial reaction is, “Really, ANOTHER thing to put on my face?!” I feel you. But keep in mind that we are waaaay behind when it comes to the number of daily products we swear by; the 10-step Korean skincare routine is a thing and the proof is in the poreless skin.