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10 Best Essences for Bright, Firm, and Moisturized Skin

10 Best Essences for Bright, Firm, and Moisturized Skin
IMAGE iStock, Nuxe, Estee Lauder, La Prairie
Upgrade your skincare routine!

Skin essences have gained traction in the past few years because of their popularity in beauty capitals here in Asia, specifically Korea and Japan. Essences are such a huge innovation because of how they can soften the skin and help make other skincare products absorb better while providing  serum-like benefits—and we say "serum-like" because essences are usually described to be somewhat in between a toner and a serum.

For one, it's easy to mistake essence as a toner because both are generally more runny and watery, but the difference is that essences contain more potent ingredients. Meanwhile, essence formulations are almost as highly-concentrated as serums, albeit not necessarily as potent. That said, many do consider the essence as an essential step in a skincare routine because it treats on a deeper level in terms of blurring fine lines, evening out skintone, fading scars, moisturizing, and plumping.

How to Apply Essence

In case you're wondering when to apply it, you can do so after swiping your toner and before applying your serum. Dispense the product onto your palms and evenly pat all over your face and neck. Some prefer soaking the essence on a cotton pad, but applying it directly on the skin does save more product!


Although we wouldn't necessarily say that applying essence is a mandatory step, it does help hydrate your skin before your other skincare products and give you healthier, plumper complexion in the long run.

Best Essences to Shop

Ready to add one to your routine? Scroll through for some of our best essence picks!

1. Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Rx

This cult-favorite product is known to repair damaged skin and even out skin tone in just a few weeks. This is highly concentrated with 80% fermented yeast extract, which gives it a brightening effect and lessens redness, too. The yeast is derived from fission, which is likened to the cells of the human body, thus the products used after this penetrates well. It also has hyaluronic acid and niacinamide that are both good for holding in moisture and protecting skin from irritation, respectively.

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MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Rx, P2060, Althea

2. Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence

This brightening essence can be a good preparation step for a skincare routine focused on evening out your skin tone. It has ingredients like glycolic acid that exfoliates dead skin cells, white peony that gives you a healthy glow, and grape water that hydrates, soothes, and moisturizes skin to give it a plumping effect even before all your serums.

PHOTO BY Sephora

CAUDALIE Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence, P1772,

3. Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence

This essence is concentrated with 95% galactomyces ferment filtrate, a type of fermented ingredient derived from yeast. It helps in evening out skin tone, tightening pores, and improving the skin's overall moisture levels. And as it reveals brighter skin, it also protects you from signs of premature aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging when used overtime.


COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, P1000, Beautymnl

4. Estée Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion

For smoother and more supple skin, try this strengthening formula from Estée Lauder. This product contains micro-nutrient bio ferment that claims to give your skin a more youthful glow. It also absorbs quickly and deeply penetrates to moisturize, energize, and replenish while aiding better absorption of skincare products that follow it. What's more, it was created specifically with Asian skin concerns in mind!

PHOTO BY Estée Lauder

ESTÉE LAUDER Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion, P5800, SM Megamall

5. Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence

Aside from being 100% naturally-dervied and oil-free, this essence has a dual weight hyaluronic acid and floral hydrosols that both give your skin a double plumping effect. It also calms the skin down, fights free radicals, and lessens the visibility of fine lines perfect for premature aging and for relieving dry skin. Last but not the least, it comes in the form of a refreshing, fine mist!

PHOTO BY Sephora

TATA HARPER Hydrating Floral Essence, P4140,

6. La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion

This luxurious essence is formulated with distilled caviar water, which prepares skin to absorb more nourishment from products like highly-concentrated like ampoules or serums—a pre-serum treatment, if you will. Caviar water is also intensely nourishing, and it helps visibly lift and increase firmness when used frequently and combined with other caviar-infused products.

PHOTO BY Rustans

LA PRAIRIE Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion, P16300, Rustan's

7. SK-II Treatment Essence

This Japanese treatment essence is perhaps one of the most popular ones out there. It contains over 90% Pitera, a fermented ingredient that is rich in vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic acids that encourage skin renewal, prevent signs of aging, and rejuvenate texture. It's also good for all skin types, because it can balance the skin's pH level to prep your face for the rest of your routine.

PHOTO BY Sephora

SK-II Treatment Essence, P9290 for 160ml,

8. Clarins Extra-Firming Treatment Essence

This age-defying formula mainly promises to brighten, firm, and improve the skin's elasticity. It is enriched with lemon thyme, green banana extracts, fig extract, and hyaluronic acid that all leave skin glowing, radiant, plump and very healthy from the inside.

PHOTO BY Clarins

CLARINS Extra-Firming Treatment Essence, P3250, Rustan's

9. Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence

The Mexican agave leaf extract that this essence has not only quenches your skin's thirst; its silky, weightless texture is good for all skin types, too. When used as a pre-treatment before your serum, this is ultimately hydrating and plumping—like drinking eight glasses of water.


MURAD Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence, P4050, Rustan's

10. Nuxe Aquabella Beauty-Revealing Essence Lotion

This essence claims to "cloak the face in a veil," which sounds suspicious, but it actually adds a layer of amazing ingredients on your skin and delivers visible results by tightening pores, refining your skin texture, and smoothing it out. This is all thanks to the white waterlily, hyaluronic acid, and unique natural blur complex that it has, which all quickly soak into your pores to reveal a brighter, more even complexion.


NUXE Aquabella Beauty-Revealing Essence Lotion, P995, Rustan's

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