Christine Chang and Sarah Lee, who founded Glow Recipe after twenty plus years as marketers and product developers in the US and Korean beauty industries, are now our official K-Beauty columnists. Glow Recipe is renowned for natural, cruelty-free and harsh-free Korean skin care innovations and a stringent curation process that includes product testing on a multi-ethnic test panel. Here is Christine and Sarah’s guide to what is known is K-Beauty as “essence”…
K-beauty has introduced a lot of new skincare vernacular into the mainstream beauty world – perhaps most notable are essences. We like to refer to essences as the modern version of a “serum”. These treatments are packed with actives and skin-beneficial ingredients, just like serums, but usually come in lighter weight textures that are great for easy layering without adding bulk or stickiness. We get a lot of questions about how to integrate essences into a skincare routine. Here are five easy ways to supercharged and glowing skin with an essence:
1. In place of your regular serum:
There’s no rule that essences can’t be used as a serum – essentially the treatment step of your routine. Both essences and serums are designed to penetrate efficiently into the skin and deliver a concentrated dose of beneficial ingredients. Use after prepping skin with cleansing and toning, then follow with a moisturizer to seal in the treatment benefits of an essence. If you are ready for the next step, you can layer an essence before your serum for an extra punch of actives. The rule of thumb for layering products is to go start from products with lightweight, fluid textures to heavier, more creamy textures.
2. As a mini mask:
Essences are formulated to incorporate a targeted ingredient that addresses a specific skin concern. With that in mind it makes perfect sense to use the more liquid versions of essences (often called treatment essences) to soak cotton pads or rounds and use them as a mini sheet mask after cleansing and before your usual skincare routine. Dampen a cotton pad with a mist, then dispense some essence onto the pad. We like to use the Blithe Vital Treatment Essence, which is packed with Vitamin E and peptides! Place on the apples of your cheeks, smile lines or forehead. Remove after 5~10 minutes to reveal smoother, brighter skin.
3. A few drops in your cream:
Essences like the Earth’s Recipe Dual Hydrating Liposome can be mixed a few drops at a time into your cream, which can help boost its effects on skin and even make your moisturizer lighter and more spreadable. This is one of our favorite tricks to ensure we wake up with radiant skin the next day, feeling great about how the super-targeted formula has enhanced the skin overnight!
4. Mix in your foundation:
When we were at JHJ Parapam, one of Korea’s top beauty salons, the head makeup artist blended a few drops of essence into a liquid foundation to give a dewy, naturally luminescent finish (“gwang”). This is a great way to ensure that your foundation application doesn’t become cakey or dry throughout the course of the day! Look for a nourishing formula like the Blossom Jeju Essence Oil, that is a uniform texture for the best results, and start with just a drop to ensure the right texture. Take a smidge of serum or essence-infused foundation onto the finger tips and gently dab on the apples and brow bones of the face – a great way to brighten up the face, with a more subtle shimmer than a highlighter.
5. To give that finishing touch of ‘glow’:
Another tip from makeup artist extraordinaire Kira Nasrat, who does makeup for Jamie Chung, was to always finish makeup application with skincare. She likes to warm a serum or essence in between her hands and then use her fingertips and palms to very gently press the treatment into the skin to help ‘set’ makeup and leave skin glowing. The lightweight texture of essences make them the perfect skincare product to use for this step. We’ve had great results with the Pink Camellia Soombi Essence-Serum, with is packed with antioxidant-rich camellia oil to give a subtle, dewy sheen.
P.S. See all Glow Recipe-approved essences, serums & ampoules here.