Toners, Serums, Essences – The New Skin Care Essentials?

When putting together a skin care routine, the countless number of products out there and the fancy jargon thrown around can be mind-boggling. Moreover, figuring out what exactly is necessary for you can be reason enough to give up on the process altogether.

The key here is to know your skin type. Then learn what ingredients your skin may be craving, or lacking, through observation and trial of different products. Not everyone may need a toner to maintain amazing skin, and essences that work wonders for some may lead to acne breakouts in others. Here we’ve put together a little primer on three products –toners, serums, and essences– that can enhance your basic beauty routine and really take your skin to that next level glow!

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Image via Stylenanda

Toner

What is it:

A toner is a type of liquid lotion used after cleansing. Most toners are water-based lotions with different ingredients, like plant or flower extracts, essential oils, or astringents, according to the needs of your skin.

It gets rid of any excess residue from the cleanser itself, or from the dirt, dust or pollutants your skin may have been exposed to throughout the day. This helps to decrease the chances of impurities penetrating into your pores. It also helps to restore the pH level of your skin, from the disruption of its balance due to the cleanser, so your skin does not become too dehydrated.

Toners with astringents help reduce enlarged pores and fight bacteria. Similarly, there are some toners with ingredients to help bind moisture to your skin.

Skin Type:

  • Acne-prone
  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Dry (use a moisturizing toner)

In Your Routine:

After cleansing your face, there may be a residue of grime still lingering on your skin. So, applying a toner best fitted for your skin type is very important. All you need is a cotton pad. Pour or spray a little bit of your toner on it and then gently maneuver the pad all around your face.

Use a cotton pad that does not soak up too much of the product. I recommend gauze-like cotton pads, which are less absorbent and also have a soft texture to minimize irritation. If you cannot find gauze-like cotton pads, natural cotton pads are the next best option.

Soak Insider Tip:

Initially, I was someone who did not care to apply a toner in my routine. However, seeing an extreme difference on my face through consistent use has made it a MUST DO part of my skincare routine! My skin can be all sorts of crazy from dry to combination to even oily at times. Rather than slathering heavy creams on my face, using a moisture balance toner has been key in maintaining a good balance of moisture on my face. You will best reap the benefits of the toner if you know what your skin needs. Checking the ingredient list of toners and looking at the concentration of ingredients in the product will help you find the most suitable toner for your skin’s needs!

Product Recommendations:

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Image via Klairs

Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

This has made the rounds online receiving rave reviews as a skin hydration miracle.

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Image via Pyunkang Yul

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

For those with sensitive skin, Pyunkang Yul’s minimalist product philosophy may be a good match. This company keeps their ingredient list free of texture or scent fillers to yield the gentlest and most nonirritating product possible. Encased in a beautiful, cobalt apothecary-chic bottle, this company’s star product helped put Pyunkang Yul on the map.

Serum

What is it:

Serums are silky, gel-like liquid products that contain a high concentration of active ingredients to target specific problem areas of the skin. These problems can range from acne scars, dark spots, wrinkles, inflammation, or severe dehydration. The active ingredients in serums directly penetrate further into the skin, allowing the skin to reap the specific benefits of healthier looking skin!

Skin Type:

  • Acne-prone (avoid until skin is recovered to be able to receive the high concentration of active ingredients)
  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Dry

In Your Routine:

After cleansing and toning your face, every morning and night, apply a small amount of serum all over the face and neck. If essence is a part of your skincare routine, then apply the serum after essence. Due to the high concentration of serums, overusing the product is not necessary. It takes 2-3 simple pumps or a coin-sized amount to acquire its benefits. Make sure to finish off the rest of your routine with moisturizer, and sunblock during the day!

Soak Insider Tip:

Serums are definitely game changers. I use it when I feel my skin is in need of specific nutrients, like vitamin C. Vitamin C is an anti-aging fighter and provides my skin with antioxidants to help repair and restore it from sun or environmental damage. If you are acne-prone, it is best not to use serums at times, so your skin has time to heal. Your skin may absorb the expensive ingredients when your skin is not fighting all the inflamed bacteria on your face.

Product Recommendations:

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Image via Acne Specialists

C-Glow Advanced Vitamin C Serum

My personal favorite vitamin C serum is an essential for its anti-aging benefits. Vitamin C aids with skin revitalization and keeping skin tone even.

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Image via LabNo

LabNo Idebenone Serum

As Allure Korea’s Editor’s Pick for December 2017, LabNo Idebenone Serum claims to be better than a facelift. Its main ingredients include rosehip extract for moisturizing and idebenone for smoothing fine lines.

Essence

What is it:

Essences are products with gel-like or liquid consistency used to improve your skin from a cellular level and to assist in cellular turnover for healthier and younger looking skin. The reasons why many people use essence are to brighten dull skin, revive radiance, and foster youthful-looking skin by aiding in the production of new skin cells!

Skin Type:

  • Acne-prone
  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Dry

In Your Routine:

When including an essence in your skincare routine, it is most effective when used after cleansing and toning every morning and night. After you tone, apply a coin-sized amount into your palms and gently apply all over your face and neck in circular motions. Any excess fluid left on your face can be absorbed by softly patting your face with your fingertips! After the essence, you can apply any serums and finish off with a moisturizer.

Soak Insider Tip:

I honestly have not used essence as much these days because my focus is keeping my skin acne-free. However, for almost four years straight, I used Su:m37°’s Secret Essence and really got youthful-looking skin. If your skin is not acne-prone, I would highly recommend using an essence to help with cell turnover! Keep in mind, just because you have acne does not mean you can’t use an essence in your skincare routine. It is up to you to evaluate which the ingredients benefit your skin and which react badly with your skin.

Product Recommendations:

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Image via Su:m37°

Su:m37° Secret Essence

A definite favorite of mine, I used this for nearly four years straight. Everywhere I went, I would hear people commenting on how my skin reflected a youthful glow.

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Image via COSRX

COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

This essence boasts 96% Snail Secretion Filtrate, which is scientifically proven to be super effective on skin cell regeneration and repair.

Featured Image via Urban Outfitters

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