Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via

Just a few years ago, K-beauty (short for Korean beauty) began taking hold in the U.S., and finding products meant shopping from just a handful of American retailers or getting adventurous and ordering directly from South Korea. Flash forward to 2020, and you can find K-beauty products on Amazon, eBay, and lining the shelves in Sephora, Ulta, Walmart, CVS, and Target. And not just a few fringe brands.

Some of the biggest brands in Asian Beauty are available locally…but what should you buy, and how do you put together that staggering multi-step routine? Before you decide to overhaul your entire skin care routine, take this advice to heart: Start slow, integrating one new product over a course of weeks, and build over time.

So…What Is an Essence?

An essence is a watery skin care gift that’s chock-full of skin loving ingredients. Its purpose is to both hydrate and treat bothersome skin conditions, like dull, uneven skin tone, rough texture, and hyper-pigmentation (i.e. sun damage or old acne scars). Many essences also contain anti-aging ingredients.

When you pour one in your hand, you’ll think, “What’s this really going to do for my dry ass cheeks?” Well, it’s going to sink in quickly and plump your skin from the inside out while working to treat additional issues. Short answer: It’s gonna give you that youthful lit-from-within glow that no amount of cream-based moisturizer can give.

Where Does It Fit in My Routine?

There are many different types of essences, so you’ll want to consider the overall consistency of the product when determining where to put it in your routine. Most watery essences, also known as First Treatment Essences, are used immediately after cleansing (and even before applying toner). If you opt for a thicker essence with the consistency of a serum or lightweight gel, you can apply that after your toner. And here’s the fun part: you can use more than one essence in your routine, or even more than one layer. Your skin will guide you here, so if first you apply and still feel dry, slap on some more and see how it goes.

Don’t Patch Test with Your Entire Face!

I’ve often wondered why consumers, especially women, will buy an entire skin care line at one time and then jump in with both feet. Your face is fragile. Hear me on this one. You want to minimize the likelihood of a reaction BEFORE you apply a new product to your whole face. When you bring home your essence, try it out on your arm or neck a couple times before moving on to your face. If nothing happens, you’re ready to enjoy the first slippery splash of heavenly goodness. P.S. If all works out, be sure to use it from your forehead to your décolleté (and don’t forget your hands). 

Personalize with Your Goals in Mind

If you’re over 40 (or 50, like me) caring for your skin now requires a different approach than when you were younger. Clinique’s 3-step method has been in place for decades, but you shouldn’t feel locked in to a singular regimen or brand for that matter. Asian Beauty is all about mixing and matching to find your perfect balance. When you decide to purchase an essence, you can expect it to add additional hydration, but you may be looking for other benefits as well. Here are some ingredients and what they do:

  1. Niacinamide occurs naturally in vegetables and some seeds and is used to reduce dark spots and other types of hyper-pigmentation.
  2. Adenosine improves skin texture, making it smoother overall.
  3. Vitamin C fights dark spots and breakouts.
  4. Saccharomyces Ferment (yeast) increases cell turnover to help new healthy skin come to the surface. It’s also used to firm and brighten the skin tone.

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Ready to shop? Just hit the website or connect with me here, and I’ll help you on your journey.

Stay pretty!