What is an essence? Elementary, my dear

Newsflash: When it comes to saving your skin, essences are well, of the essence.

But wait, what in Miss Gorgeous’s name is an essence, anyway? In the bewildering beauty world we live in today, slapping on multiple serums and salves (not to mention boosters and pre-serums!) is par for the course, really – a luminous light-year away from the quaint old days when the only vaguely “exotic” elixir we had to tussle with was a toner …

Which leads us quite neatly to what essences most emphatically are not – they’re not your average toner. An easy way of wrapping your head around the concept is to think of toners as the last cleansing component of your skincare ritual – while traditional toners rid your skin of residual gunk, essences should be regarded as targeted treatments in their own right.

Oh, and here’s a top tip that should please the penny-pinching budget barbies out there: Skipping cotton pads provides you more bang for your buck. Using cotton to swipe on your watery essence on is such a waste, really. I for one recommend warming up a few drops in your cupped palms, then pressing it into your freshly cleansed face. Hands still damp? Spread the wealth and rub any excess essence into the nook of your elbows.

Intrigued but not sure where to start? Easy, no skin off your nose. Click through the gallery slides for my personal pick of essential essences, for your perusal and purchasing consideration, please!

Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence $46

#1 Innisfree Jeju Lava Seawater Essence, $46

This beautiful blue-bottled baby – I’m obsessed with the ombre effect! – quenches parched skin like no other in its price bracket, at least in my beauty books.

How does it work? There’s a ton of K-Tech behind this incredibly intriguing new K-Beauty treat, but it all “boils” down to aqua amassed from the volcanic seawater sloshing about Jeju Island, which the brand says is perfectly pH-balanced and packed with moisturising minerals that supercharges your skin’s capacity to cling onto water.

Got a couple of seconds to spare? Do as I do and press this essence your mien for a “micro-massage” – this will amp up blood circulation for beautifully rosy skin. And yes, this really lends me a noticeably brighter and firmer face, even (and especially!) when I’ve been pulling all-nighters in the office. Looking forward to my skin transformation into a Seoul starlet with continued use!



#2 Shu Uemura Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Oil in Essence, $145

As obsessed over oils as I am? Good, then Shu Uemura’s sensational Ultime8 Sublime Beauty Oil in Essence should be right up your beauty alley.

This exquisite essence-oil hybrid comes chock-full with a carefully calibrated blend of eight botanical oils designed to calm any number of cosmetic ailments – with the bonus of being skin-tinglingly sensuous to the touch, too, like liquid cashmere caressing your face.

Toss in skin-softening geranium oil and plumping pro-xylane and you’ve got yourself one fancy facial treatment that lends itself well to any number of inventive beauty hacks.  Try mixing this under your tinted sunscreen; the antioxidants in this essence means that you’ll get a double dose of free radical-fighting goodness. (The divine, dewy finish doesn’t hurt, too.)

You may also consider elevating your classic red lip with a holographic overlay of glistening Oil in Essence. Simply use a stiff angled brush to dab on a drop in the centre of your lips for a lustrous lacquered finish. Or use it “neat “as is on bare skin for an restorative overnight treatment. One essence, multiple functions, three words: Grab it, guys. And pronto, too.


Kose Infinity Advanced Moisture Concentrate $122

#3 Kose Infinity Advanced Moisture Concentrate, $122

This plush potion is such an incredible investment. Why? You’re “essentially” getting an essence and booster in one, for starters – the fab folks at Kose say this ambrosia will amplify the beautifying benefits of your subsequent serums and salves.

And because this is Kose we’re talking about, expect all of the herbal heroes emblematic of the quietly elegant J-Beauty brand: Revitalising rice extracts packed with plumping peptides, plus an exotic suite of skin softeners the likes of red oolong, inula flower and neem leaf extracts.

Big beauty bonus: The satiny serum-like consistency makes for supremely comfortable wear in sweltering Singapore, and the immediate radiance it bestows makes this fantastic for use on bare skin as a as a brightening base – on good skin days, this essence alone under a tinted sunscreen should suffice. Will repurchase in a heartbeat!

Text: Eugene Quek, Her World Plus / Additional Reporting: Arissa Ha

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