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15 Facial Essences Beauty Editors Swear By That'll Make All The Difference

The extra step in your skincare routine that you will never regret.

Facial essences, or lotions have been an essential skincare step to Japanese and Korean women for decades. But it wasn’t until in the past few years that Western skincare brands started introducing such essences. If you are still unsure about what a facial essence does, we’ve got you covered. While traditional toners are designed to balance skin’s pH, most of them tend to also have some cleansing benefits as a back-up to eliminate any traces of makeup and grime left behind. However, essences do not have cleansing properties. They focus on restoring skin’s pH and moisture levels, as well as resetting skin by infusing it with a host of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and amino acids to amplify the effects of serums and moisturisers applied thereafter. Above, 13 of the best facial essences that beauty editors repeatedly swear by for healthier skin.

Chanel Le Blanc Essence Lotion, $97
It helps to revitalise and strengthen skin by harnessing the powers of antioxidant-rich ume flower extract, which boosts skin’s vitality. Vitamin C works together with this active ingredient to reinforce the brightening action, restoring radiance and translucency. Then, ume flower oil (its new – and key – ingredient) restores skin lipids and forms a veil over the skin to lock in moisture. PIT Technology (used for the first time in Chanel) obtains minute oil droplets for maximum efficacy and creates a smooth and comforting texture for a sensorial experience. DrGL Essence Anti-Aging, $168
Powered by multi-peptides and antioxidant-rich portulaca oleracea extract, this treats signs of ageing at the cellular level, removes impurities, promotes collagen production and improves blood circulation for a lasting lifted and youthful look. It also helps to impart long-lasting moisture and neutralise free radicals to prevent wrinkles, dullness and fine lines. Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence, $108
Its star ingredient Kombucha provides a double-defense to counteract the effects of pollutants with a multi-action approach. Firstly, it helps deactivate pollutants, which are commonly found in air and water, preventing them from causing oxidative stress and damaging skin. It also has powerful antioxidant activity, which helps to effectively neutralise free radicals and counteract the effects of pollutants. By Terry Detoxilyn City Essence, $120
Living in an urban jungle just means that we are constantly faced with environmental pollutants, stress and at times, an unhealthy lifestyle. When this happens, our skin health is compromised and it’s essential to use the right products to fight the toxins we are exposed to. Fortified with alpin rose stem cells and acanthus extract, this detoxifies skin, neutralises pollutant particles and releases impurities from the skin to instantly revive tired complexions. Clarins Multi-Active Treatment Essence, $70
Teasel extract increases skin cell energy to boost skin vitality while acerola seed extract encourages cellular respiration to boost radiance, leaving the skin soft, supple and more radiant. When skin is more supple, it is better able to absorb the goodness from the other products in your skincare regime. For more effective results, use it as a mask by applying the product on cotton pads or a compressed sheet mask. La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-In-Lotion, $405
If you haven’t heard, La Prairie’s Skin Caviar skincare range is packed with nutrients extracted from sturgeon caviar, which are essential for cellular regeneration. Rich in peptides, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, these products improve skin resilience for smoother, firmer skin. And to prep for optimal absorption of all these goodness, La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Essence-In-Lotion is made with distilled Caviar Water that restores skin’s moisture and lipid levels. This means that products applied after are absorbed better for maximum benefits. All you have to do is dispense a coin-sized amount of this slightly viscous gel-like lotion onto your palms and pat into your skin. Instantly, skin is refreshed, revitalised and ready to receive treatment products like serums and moisturisers. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, $269
Unchanged for over three decades, this multi award-winning facial essence provides skin with over 50 micro-nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and organic acids to restore skin’s natural functions like cellular turnover and regeneration. Just saturate a cotton pad and apply onto skin after cleansing for softer and smoother skin that glows. Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, $115
As the Korean beauty brand’s best-selling item for almost 20 years, this booster serum harnesses the benefits of prized Korean herbs to balance, energise and hydrate skin so a dull complexion gives way to a healthy, glowing one. Thanks to a painstaking 18-hour extraction method, the JAUM Balancing Complex is obtained and is the key compound that provides your skin with a global anti-ageing action. Dispense two to three pumps of serum onto your palms before smoothing onto skin as the first skincare step to boost its absorption of other products applied after. L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Micronized Centella Essence Water, $29.90
A trusted herb that has been used to heal wounds since centuries ago, this essence water contains centella asiatica extract, infusing skin with its miraculous skin-repairing benefits. In addition, the formula contains micronised droplets, which ensure that it penetrates deep into skin layers without any stickness or greasiness to regenerate skin from inside out. La Mer The Treatment Lotion, $220
At the heart of this skin-softening lotion is the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, a nutrient-rich ingredient extracted from sea kelp via a natural fermentation process to lock in moisture and accelerate cellular regeneration. When combined with a marine algae-derived ferment and hyaluronic acid fragments, it penetrates deep into all skin layers to restore cell metabolism for healthier cellular functions. Skin instantly feels balanced and plump as its moisture levels is optimised. Hera Cell Essence, $80
At one glance, you’ll know that this skin essence means serious business because an entire list of components that are essential for optimal cellular function is clearly labeled on the bottle itself. This clearly signals to consumers that it contains everything your skin needs to be healthy, including amino acids, sugars, peptides, lips, ions, hyaluronic acid and NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factors). To apply, saturate the two-sided cotton pads that the essence comes with and sweep all over skin using the softer side. Once or twice a week, opt for the bumpy side for additional exfoliating benefits for smoother, more radiant skin. Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Premium Hydrating Lotion, $24.90 for 170ml
For those whose skin needs a little extra help in retaining moisture, this is your best bet. Formulated with hyaluronic acid of five different molecular weights, this deeply hydrating lotion replenishes, stores and locks in hydration instantly for softer and smoother skin. Plus, it is pH-balanced to minimise irritation and keeps skin supple all day long. Biotherm Life Plankton Clear Essence, $78 for 125ml
Concentrated with Biotherm’s signature Life Plankton, which normalises skin renewal for smoother, younger-looking skin, this lightweight essence preps skin so it becomes more receptive to skincare products applied after. Thanks to a blend of gentle micro-exfoliating agents, it sweeps away dead skin cells, refreshes skin and replenishes moisture for a more refined skin texture. Su:m37 Secret Essence, $108 for 80ml
Natural fermentation processes are the pillars of this Korean skincare brand. As its name suggests, natural ingredients found in the brand’s skincare products are left to ferment under highly regulated conditions, specifically at 37 degrees Celsius to retain their optimum efficacy. And everything takes place in the brand’s Natural Fermentation Research Institute, which is situated in Korea’s Gangwon province, where it enjoys pollution-free air and water to ensure the purity of the ingredients undergoing fermentation. The result? Nutrient-rich extracts that energises the complexion at a cellular level for healthier, more beautiful skin. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Spa Oil-In-Water, $52 for 100ml
With a structural component that mimics skin’s hydrolipidic film, it is readily absorbed into skin to help rebuild and strengthen skin against environmental assaults. Thanks to its Oil-In-Water format, fresh actives are preserved in micro-capsules and gradually released. Moreover, the water phase infuses skin with Vichy thermal water, glycerine and hyaluronic acid to soothe and hydrate the skin, while the oil phase provides skin with squalene and vitamin E for a well-nourished complexion. Main image: