Known as 'miracle water' in the Asian skincare world, essences are used to hydrate, protect and give your skin a natural glow. Additionally, they ensure that other products properly absorb into your skin. Anyone with any skin type can use one, though it is worth noting that every essence is formulated differently and address various concerns as well as brightening up the skin.
Whether you are looking for an essence to combat hyperpigmentation, protect your skin from sun damage or one with anti-ageing properties, we have researched the best options in the UK which can be purchased on Amazon and Boots. We've included the most popular and affordable K-beauty brands including Missha, COSRX and Benton.
A recommendation service that carefully researches each product and consults with experts across many disciplines. We are constantly creating new content to provide the best shopping experience from choosing ‘cosmetics’ to ‘food and drink’, ‘home appliances’ to ‘kids and baby’ products, reaching users all across the United Kingdom.
Table of Contents
Essences are full of active ingredients that both hydrate and address other skin concerns. For example, using an essence can also reduce the signs of ageing, soothe irritation and increase cell turnover which will make your skin look smoother and healthier. The key ingredients to look out for include:
Make sure to add a toner first! This will ensure that your skin's pH level is balanced, free of impurities and ready for the rest of your routine.
Although the majority of essences come in liquid form and have a watery feel to them, a few do have more of a gel or cream consistency. Owing to their lightweight texture, liquid-based essences will absorb into your skin a lot quicker. This makes them ideal if you are wanting to layer other products afterwards.
An essence with a gel-like consistency works best when applied to a particular area since it is more concentrated. They are the better option for those with oily skin types as they are less likely to cause breakouts. Cream formulas are not that common but there are a few that come in this form because they include additional properties like SPF.
Looking for more K-beauty? Finish off your routine with a sheet mask.
Although animal testing was banned in South Korea in 2016, many brands still sell in physical shops in China and so must test on animals by Chinese law. They also do not use the same vegan or cruelty-free certifications found on other international products and are known for their use of animal-derived ingredients. If you are looking to avoid these, some of the most common to look out for are:
If you are someone who wants to avoid these types of products completely, there are still many Korean brands that produce vegan and cruelty-free lines and state this on their official website or packaging. Ultimately, it is best to do some research into the product before purchasing just to be certain.
Click to purchase
Time Revolution Essence
Revive and Brighten Skin With This Cult-Favourite Essence
Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Gel
Get an Instant Glow With Snail Mucin
Starting Treatment Essence
Achieve Radiant Skin and Diminish Wrinkles
Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence
Enhance Your Skin's Texture With the Power of Honey
Real Ferment Micro Essence Premium
A Fast-Absorbing Essence to Make Skin Look Bright and Youthful
Illuminate Dullness With Fermented Ingredients
Restore, Calm and Comfort Skin With Plenty of Minerals and Vitamins
Essence Sun Milk SPF50+
An 2-in-1 Essence That Also Protects Your Skin From the Sun
Miracle Seed Essence
Purify Skin With Lotus Seed, Sugar Fluid and Vitamin Complex
Snail Bee High Content Essence
With Snail and Bee Venom to Enhance Elasticity and Heal Damage
There is a good reason why Missha's Time Revolution toner is renowned in the K-Beauty world. It has the power to improve the appearance of wrinkles and the elasticity of your skin thanks to the inclusion of yeast extract and niacinamide.
Other key ingredients such as pearl reef and rice extract also have exfoliating properties which will help leave your skin looking clear and smooth. As soon as you apply this product, your skin will feel instantly hydrated. Using this will make your skin constantly look energised and youthful, and what's not to like about that?
Snail mucin is a well-loved K-beauty ingredient because it has the ability to protect skin from moisture loss as well as give it an instant glow. COSRX's Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence has become a fan-favourite simply because as soon as you apply it, you'll notice how your skin feels refreshed and has a natural glow to it.
With a formula containing 96.3% snail secretion filtrate, it shields from dryness and signs of ageing by repairing the skin's moisture levels. Despite the fact this essence is not vegan, it is worth noting the snail mucin is obtained in a way that is safe and environmentally friendly.
This multipurpose essence will provide effective care for your skin in seven different ways: moisturising, tightening, brightening, soothing, providing antioxidants, improving the appearance of wrinkles and texture.
The secret to achieving these amazing benefits? It's the inclusion of galactomyces ferment filtrate in addition to a variety of vital vitamins. Highly recommended for those who are looking to try an essence for the first time!
Combining the powers of honey and black bee propolis extract, this essence is designed to fade dark spots in addition to reducing acne. The inclusion of royal jelly extract also helps to create a firm barrier on your skin, resulting in long-lasting moisture.
SKINFOOD prides itself on making products full of nutrients and this essence definitely lives up to expectations. As soon as you apply it to your face, you'll immediately notice how hydrated and glowy your skin looks.
From one of K-Beauty's longest-running brands comes this essence formulated with natural fermented ingredients which work to protect your natural skin cells. Some of these nourishing ingredients include Bifida ferment lysate and rice ferment filtrate.
Additionally, this essence will help to increase skin elasticity and moisture as well as provide antioxidant benefits. It is also fragrance-free and would work on a variety of skin types. If you want your skin to look like it has a natural glow, then use this!
Revitalise your skin with the power of fermented ingredients, galactomyces and bifida ferment lysate. Using this will result in your skin looking firmer and feeling nourished and less dry. It is a great option if you are concerned about wrinkles.
Since this essence is water-based it will not leave your skin feeling and looking overly oily. Given that it is free from artificial colouring and alcohol means it is also a great choice for those wanting to avoid any potential skin irritants.
Soothe irritated skin with this essence formulated with one main ingredient; mugwort extract. This ingredient is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and has a unique scent to it. After using this, your skin will be left feeling comfortable and calm.
Notably, it would work wonders on those with sensitive skin and also be ideal to use in the summer season as it can help relieve heat rash. You know that this will be a gentle product since it is free from artificial fragrances, colours and parabens. To top off all of this, this essence is vegan and cruelty-free.
Putting on SPF every day is a must if you want to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful. This lightweight essence will not only protect your skin with the power of SPF50+ but will also hydrate and cool it. After applying, your skin will instantly feel silky smooth and soft.
The blend of sweet apricot, louts and chrysanthemum flowers give this essence a nice floral scent whilst the inclusion of aloe vera and green tea extract help to reduce redness. Most importantly, this sunscreen-essence does not feel greasy and won't leave an obvious white cast.
Eco-friendly skincare brand Primera has created this miracle essence that will purify your skin as well as reduce visible pores. The main ingredients consist of lotus seed activator, sugar fluid and vitamin complex, all of which will deeply moisture as well as protect your skin.
The overall effect is that your skin will look plump, dewy and radiant. By using this, any serums or creams you use later on in your routine will absorb much faster. For the best results, it is recommended that you apply this product both day and night.
Relieve skin from stress and protect it from pollution with this essence made with some of the best ingredients K-Beauty has to offer: snail secretion filtrate and bee venom. Together, these two ingredients enhance the skin's elasticity whilst helping heal damaged skin.
Moreover, this essence contains niacinamide, aloe vera leaf juice and adenosine, which address a number of other skin needs including wrinkle care, irritation and blemishes. Although suitable for all skin types, the inclusion of animal-derived ingredients means that it is not suitable for vegans.
Originating from Korea, essences are a skincare product that aims to hydrate, protect and brighten the skin whilst also acting as a primer for your serum and moisturiser. Typically gentle and full of nourishing ingredients, they can be used both morning and night as part of your daily routine.
You should apply essence after cleansing and toning and before serum, moisturiser and SPF. A tip to remember when ordering your routine is that products should be layered from lightest to heaviest. Still, it's best to check the instructions to ensure you are using the product as the brand recommends.
Written and researched by Jane Pipkin
No. 1: Missha ｜Time Revolution Essence
No. 2: COSRX｜Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Gel
No. 3: SECRET KEY ｜Starting Treatment Essence
No. 4: SKINFOOD ｜Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence
No. 5: Neogen｜Real Ferment Micro Essence Premium
View Full Ranking
When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
PC and cameras
Home appliances and electronics
Cosmetics and skincare
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones