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Skincare Essence vs Serums: What’s the Difference?

Skincare essences and serums are essential elements of the multi-step Korean skincare routine. Despite their similarities, they are not the same. Skincare essence resembles a serum and helps treat specific conditions like dark spots, fine lines, oily skin, dryness, and hyperpigmentation. But it should not be confused with serums. 

How are they different?

Essences are lighter and less concentrated. They are applied after the toner to provide an extra layer of hydration before applying serum.

On the other hand, serums contain active ingredients for addressing specific skin problems, such as fine lines and dark spots. These active ingredients come at higher concentrations than in moisturising creams. 

Skincare essence may also seem runnier than serums, typically thicker in consistency.

What should you use first?

Most skincare experts recommend applying skincare essence after cleansing and toning and then following it up with a serum. But you don’t have to use both in your skincare routine because they have very similar roles. Both products deliver active ingredients to your skin before you apply moisturiser. It’s about personal preference and how you tolerate individual formulas.

For instance, if you do not like moisturisers or lotions for their greasy and thick feel, essences can be a lightweight and refreshing substitute that offers hydration with their gel-like or watery consistency. This way, you have the option to skip the moisturiser.

Which product is best for you?

Consider using skincare essence if you have sensitive skin. Despite the lighter formulation, it will still provide the benefits of a serum while effectively hydrating your skin.

Serums are more potent than essences because they have more active ingredients in a lightweight formulation, making them effective at addressing specific skin issues. They go deeper into the skin to work, so apply them after cleansing but before the moisturiser. Using a serum may also appeal to you for its hydrating effects, especially if you want to skip thick moisturisers and lotions.

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