Skin Care Essences: How to Use Them, and Why They're Different from Toner

Skin Care Essences: How to Use Them, and Why They're Different from Toner
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Don't get it twisted—these aren't your old-school toners. While astringents work wonders at clearing up excess oil and whisking away leftover makeup, many of the alcohol-based formulas prove to be too drying for certain skin types. If your complexion needs a boost in moisture, consider making the swap to a skin care essence.

Rather than taking elements out of your skin, essences are designed to put much-needed ingredients back in, and should be used after you wash your face, but before you apply serum. Just like every other booming skin care trend out there, they've been big in Japan for years. Versions like SK-II's famed Facial Treatment Essence ($165; sk-ii.com) and Shiseido's Eudermine Revitalizing Essence ($56; shiseido.com) that crossed over Stateside gained a cult following for their hydrating and anti-aging abilities, and now that more brands are jumping onto the bandwagon, there's a formula to suit just about every skin type out there.

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A great, one-size-fits-all formula is Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence ($45; kiehls.com), which increases your moisture levels and delivers a healthy glow, but if you have an oily complexion, you'll love Algenist's Hydrating Essence ($25; sephora.com). The infusion of witch hazel will help to tone down excess sebum and oil production, but isn't drying at all thanks to the soothing aloe and alguronic acid. You can apply them with a cotton ball, just as you would with your toner, but we love pouring a few drops into our hand and patting the liquid into our skin to really drink in the benefits. Or, if you have a sprayable version like Tata Harper's ($85; nordstrom.com), you can mist the lavender-rich mixture directly onto your face, as well as over your makeup.

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