The Skin Care Step You're Missing Between Cleansing and Moisturizing
We've already established that the 10-step Asian skin care routine is far superior to the quick cleansing-wipe lifestyle a lot of us use here in the states. So it's no surprise that, for decades, brands like Shiseido and SK-II have offered a moisturizing product to use after cleansing and before moisturizing — the essence (also referred to as a softener or infusion). You're probably thinking, "Why should I add yet another skin care product to my diminishing sink space?" Well, even though an essence looks just like water, it's so much more powerful than your average H20.
You're probably familiar with the role of a toner in your skin care routine — it clears away excess oils and balances the skin's pH, typically with alcohol among the top ingredients. Essences serve the opposite purpose. They resupply your skin with moisture after your skin has been stripped during cleansing or after a mask. A few drops in your hand feel silky smooth, not drying, and there are rarely any astringent ingredients included. The proper application method is to pour the product in your hands and gently pat it into the skin. You won't want to waste a drop of this product on a cotton pad! Immediately you will notice a brighter, softer complexion.
Typically these essences are infused with large levels of active ingredients. For example, SK-II's popular Treatment Essence has about 90 percent of pitera, the brand's star antiaging complex (which also explains the higher price tag for these products). The liquefied formula allows the actives to soak in quickly, preparing your skin for the next step — a serum or SPF moisturizer. Shop 10 of our favorite essences when you keep reading.