For those dedicated to their skin, washing away the traces of a face full of makeup come nightfall is like a holy ceremony. After the melting of mascara and the fade away of blush, one begins with a cleanse. Next, skin sins are wiped away with the help of exfoliating. The apples of the cheeks and the forehead take solace in the revival process, opening up to a fresh start once again. Before the renewal is complete, with a splash of water thrown onto the face and a bit of moisturizer delicately patted in, comes a secret weapon still missing from most North American beauty cabinets: essence.
The word itself is defined as something that possesses an intrinsic nature. When rolled off the tongue, the word spills soul and spirit, so one can only assume that the product gives something special to the skin: a new life. Essence lies at the heart of the Asian skin care routine, and has been gifted with the responsibility of being the most important step in the ritual.
There’s no denying that confusion has circulated around the product for years, especially on North American turf: is it a toner? A serum? Frankly, no. But it is the missing piece of the puzzle. Applied after a toner and before a serum in the awe-inspiring 10-step Korean skin care routine, an essence speeds cell turnover, making the skin fluid, supple, and bright. Unlike the stickiness you may feel after the application of serum, the fluid texture of essence is much lighter and often milkier on the skin. To follow those who have mastered this crucial part of the skin care routine for years, sprinkle a teaspoon of the formula in the palms of hands and gently tap onto the face and neck. This tactic permits absorption and will make moisturizing your skin that much more enjoyable.
Allow your skin to relax and embrace the gift of comfort. Like a magic potion, a little goes a long way, as skin begins to pump and a youthful glow shines through. Although lightweight, the formula is powerful, acting as a support system, a protector, and a miracle worker. The process of a cleanse is to rid the skin of its imperfect, and what the art of an essence offers is its ability to purify.
Perhaps the most famed of the essences is the one referred to as “miracle water.” Launching Japanese brand SK-II into beauty stardom nearly 40 years ago, Facial Treatment Essence comes in a trusty glass bottle that sits on the shelf of the skin-obsessed. The story of SK-II began in the hands of Japan’s sake brewers. An astounding sight, brewers’ wrinkled faces contrasted with their soft hands. Scientists knew the secret must lie in the yeast that brewers’ hands were in direct contact with during the fermentation process. Over a decade later, that secret was harnessed in the form of Pitera, the ingredient that makes up over 90 per cent of the Facial Treatment Essence, promoting the rebalance and rejuvenation of skin time after time.
Also prized by women in Japan is Shiseido’s oldest product, Eudermine Revitalizing Essence, first introduced in 1897. The formula, perfumed with an accent of peonies, immediately nurtures and purifies the skin.
And it’s not just the Asian market taking note of this lightweight miracle formula—the French are, too. Mathilde Thomas of Caudalie developed Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence, a glycolic acid-based composition that has become a favourite among skin enthusiasts due to its ability to receive the following serum’s active ingredients.
In Asia, women understand that beauty is an art. And to achieve the masterpiece that is porcelain skin, it seems as though essence is an important part of the strategy. In North America, a culture where a typical evening skin routine looks like the removal of makeup, the washing of the face, the application of cream, and the fall into bed, essence still holds wonder and mystery. But for those chasing a blemish-free canvas, no matter where they live, this beauty product is vital. Our skin deserves the utmost respect; thus, more and more brands are introducing essence into their collections. Asia’s best-kept secret is out.
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