I think one of the truly odd side-effects of uni classes being online, and pretty much spending most of the day indoors, has been the fact that loads of us now have the time to have a skincare routine. I have some friends who now have a weekly skincare catch-up with each other over Zoom, comparing their latest finds to see what helps their skin look amazing. I even know some guys who have been converted to the world of face masks (side note: for guys with beards who hate the idea of masks getting clogged up in hair, look online for masks with aloe as they’re easier to wash off).
Whether you’ve become obsessed with signing up for monthly beauty boxes to get delivered (it’s almost too easy to click those ads on Insta) or have fallen down a million YouTube rabbit holes watching vloggers show their bazillion step routines, you might have been experimenting with samples of skin essences.
While trying to improve my skin routine, I stumbled into the unknown by finding out about essences. In the “before” times when you could walk around Boots or Superdrug all the livelong day looking at what’s new on the shelf, I never even noticed skin essences or took much notice of them. Now though that I’ve had a few mini bottles come my way, I need to know everything about them and how they can help my skin.
If you’re in the same boat or just trying to make some improvements in your skincare routine, let me fill you in on what skin essences are and why you would need one. Firstly, skin essences are creams and gels that you use after exfoliating and washing/wiping your face, which you need to use before putting on masks, creams or moisturisers. It’s best to think of them as a skincare product you use right in the middle of a routine to help prep your face.
A sort of odd comparison, but one that I know everyone can visualise, is comparing skin essences to washing up liquid. Know how sometimes you might be rinsing a plate under warm water, and the dirt isn’t going away when you scrub, but if you squeeze a little washing up liquid and rub it in, the dirt goes away easily? That is sort of how I try to explain skin essences. They help remove lingering nasties on your skin while pre-hydrating skin after you’ve cleaned your face so that anything you put on after will absorb better.
With essences effectively acting as a hydrating barrier, those who are a whizz with makeup use essence as a primer for the face. It lets you apply makeup with less risk of anything clumping up or clinging to pores. I’ve used it a bit to see how it works. I can attest that when using a wipe to remove makeup, it seems to come off easier after using an essence earlier in the day.
So where should you look for essences when the high street is still shut? Shopping online, I recommend looking at K-Beauty sites like Skinsider, which you can shop here, as Korean brands are seen as the bee’s knees when it comes to essences. If you do venture to the chemists, Boots & The Body Shop have own-brand essences, which are a good starting point to help get used to using one. Just make sure you don’t get essential oils, as they’re a different thing entirely.
Oh, and one last little nugget of information before I go. If you plan on using essences at night before bed, apply them right after washing your face and before moisturising. Your skin produces much less sebum when you’re sleeping, and night time is the best time to work on making skin look better.
There you have it—a whirlwind look at essences. If you’ve gotten to the end and can actively feel the pores on your face crying out for attention, I do apologise, but at least you know now what to do!
And if you’re at home right now and looking to treat your skin, read this article on home remedies to prevent oily skin.