Despite being far more time consuming, the multi-step skincare routine that has filtered across from Asia has proven its superiority to the basic 3-in-1 facial wipe Western method. There’s one product that has been a firm favourite in skincare rituals in the Far East for decades that has yet to catch on with the worldwide masses- facial essences.

Facial essences are meant to be applied just after cleansing but before your serum and moisturiser. Whilst they could be slotted in to the “toner” category, they are meant to be moisturising treatments rather than astringent cleansers. They’re packed full of active ingredients that work to amplify the skin-perfecting effects of your products.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence BottleIf ever there was a cult toner, then SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is it. This clear, water-like liquid forms the entire cornerstone of the SK-II brand. It contains over 90% Pitera, a unique strain of yeast which Japanese scientists claim to have found contains over 50 vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which undoubtedly do wonders for the skin (side note: the porcelain-skinned, Cate Blanchett is a huge fan.) It can be applied directly to the skin with fingertips or with a cotton pad to boost radiance, firm skin and treat dark spots. I find cotton wastes a lot of product, so fingers are my preferred method. Some people swear by it, saying that it’s literally changed their faces forever. I use it when I can and find it does make my skin look clearer and feel more hydrated.

So are facial essences essential? In a word, no. They’re nice and refreshing to use and often contain super hydrating and (basically preventative) anti-ageing ingredients to give skin that extra dose of luminosity; but they’re also relatively expensive and add time to your routine. So if you don’t mind the splurge and like the idea of the Asian product layering technique for your skincare ritual, then go ahead. Your skin will probably thank you for it in the future.

Do you use facial essences? Which is your favourite?

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