How essences boost your skincare routine

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How to cite: Wong M. How essences boost your skincare routine. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. May 22, 2020. Accessed May 28, 2024.

This post is sponsored by Jurlique.

I’ve talked about my favourite essence before in 2017: Jurlique Activating Water Essence. Here’s why it’s awesome, and why you probably also want an essence in your routine!

What is an essence?

Essences have been a staple in Korean skincare for years, but they’re still quite rare from Western brands. So when Jurlique launched their Activating Water Essence back in 2016, I was incredibly excited.

Essences are lightweight, runny products that are packed with hydrating ingredients. They’re not as heavy as a serum, but they have more ingredients than a toner. In particular, they’re loaded with humectants that help with dehydrated skin. They’re a really fantastic way to add heavy-hitting hydration to your skin, without weighing down your skin.

Jurlique Activating Water Essence Ingredients

Dehydrated skin lacks water, and can look dull and feel rough. Humectants work by holding water to your skin, slowing it from evaporating and keeping your skin hydrated, plumping it up and making it smoother and brighter. Common humectants include glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

Jurlique Activating Water Essence has my favourite humectant, glycerin, along with some less common humectants like biosaccharide gum-1, saccharide isomerate, caprylyl/capryl glucoside and Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root extract. I find that my skin feels hydrated a lot longer compared with essences that have fewer different humectants in them, maybe because having a range means it can hydrate at a few different depths in the skin. The humectants in marshmallow root extract also form a layer on your skin, helping lock in moisture more effectively.

On top of the humectants, it also has a lot of plant extracts which provide antioxidants to soak up free radical damage and soothe skin. It spreads nicely so you don’t need to apply a lot of product, and it’s both lightweight and super hydrating without being sticky.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water/Eau), Propanediol, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Saccharide Isomerate, Glycerin, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Prunus persica (Peach) Leaf Extract, Althaea officinalis Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Equisetum arvense Extract, Calendula officinalis Flower Extract, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Urtica dioica (Nettle) Extract, Melissa officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea millefolium Extract, Origanum majorana Leaf Extract, Salvia officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Mentha piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Melia azadirachta Extract, Fragrance/Parfum, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, Farnesol.

Benefits of essences

The intense but lightweight hydration that essences deliver bring a lot of benefits:

Help your active ingredients work better

Essences are awesome for prepping skin before you apply active ingredients. It might seem counterintuitive to add a product in between your bare skin and active serums, but ingredients absorb better through hydrated skin. Moisturisers can be too thick to layer underneath actives. Essences deliver hydration but without the weight and extra ingredients you’d find in a moisturiser.

Jurlique Activating Water Essence and Serum

Quick hydration

Essences go after cleansing and toning in your routine. Cleansing is one of the harshest things we do to our skin. Even after using a gentle cleanser, your skin is more prone to drying out and feeling tight after cleansing. An essence can quickly add hydration to skin without interfering with (and actually helping) later steps in your routine.

Work for all skin types

Since essences don’t contain oily emollients and occlusives, they’re suitable for both dry and oily skin types, and everything in between. They’re especially good for oily skin like mine – oily skin is often dehydrated, so essences deliver much-needed hydration without adding extra oily shine.

Layer easily

Since they’re so lightweight, essences slot in easily into your skincare routine. They work well under makeup and sunscreen during the day when you might not want the heaviness of a moisturiser, and they sit well under multiple layers of actives as well. They also don’t tend to make other ingredients bunch up (if it does, you can usually just wait a little longer for it to absorb). If you want extra hydration, you can also apply multiple layers of the essence – a Korean beauty trend a few years ago was the “7 skin method” where you applied an essence 7 times for maximum hydration!

Jurlique Activating Water Essence

How to use an essence

Some people apply essences with cotton pads, but I just use my hands since I hate wasting product.

Essences go on your skin after cleansing and toner, but before your serum, eye cream and moisturiser. So for example, if you’re using the Jurlique Nutri-Define Supreme range, your routine might look like this:

1. Cleanse, rinse face thoroughly and pat dry

2. Activating Water Essence to quickly hydrate and prepare skin

3. Nutri-Define Supreme Rejuvenating Serum so the active ingredients are closer to the skin for maximum benefits

4. Nutri-Define Supreme Eye Contour Balm to protect the eye area from the richness of your face cream

5. Nutri-Define Supreme Restorative Rich Cream to seal it all in and richly moisturise

Jurlique Activating Water Essence Instructions

Do you use an essence in your skincare routine?

This post is sponsored by Jurlique; however, the content is all based on my independent research and my honest experience. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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4 thoughts on “How essences boost your skincare routine”

  1. It’s a great product to have in my routine. I use the IOPE Bio Essence (my first one and the one I keep going back to). I found out it has niacinamide in it too which helps explain why when I initially used it, my skin tone and texture improved a lot.


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