Beauty 5 years ago

Korean Skincare Breakdown – Toner vs. Essence

One of the main reasons I love my job is that I’m always learning and creating.

I love that you all want to learn and enjoy the journey with me! One of the most commonly asked questions I still get after I post a skincare routine or talk about my skincare is, “What’s the difference between an essence and a toner?” Even the girls on the CINCteam ask me this as well. Should you use one over the other? Use both?

So, using the best of my skincare knowledge and a little bit of research to get more technical, I wanted to give you the breakdown of what the difference between an essence and toner is:


A toner is used to balance your skin’s PH level and get rid of any other impurities left on your skin after cleansing. A cotton ball or pad is usually necessary for toners.

An essence is most commonly used in Korean Skincare after you cleanse your face to hydrate and rebalance your skin’s pH balance as a way to prepare your skin for the rest of your routine.  A cotton ball or pad is not necessary for essences. Pat the essence into your face with your hands.

Just like any other skincare product, there are dozens of variations on the market, as well as some that work for certain skin types as opposed to the others!


Peach and Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence

This essence is so light and lovely! If you’re new to essences, this is a great product to try out! It’s the most affordable essence of my favorites and it’s loaded with some amazing ingredients. The essence is formulated with Lotus Extract which helps protect your skin against free radical damage from the sun, pollution, and stress – which pretty much sums up living in LA, LOL! It’s also formulated with bamboo extract, hyaluronic acid complex, and more amazing ingredients all to give you gorgeous radiant skin.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

A total cult classic! It feels like I’ve been using this essence for as long as I’ve been doing a skincare routine, and it’s one of my mom’s favorites as well! It’s formulated with Pitera which is rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that help improve your skin. It feels super lightweight and fits seamlessly into any skincare routine! While it’s definitely more on the pricey side, it’s worth every penny!

The Pure Lotus Essence 

Okay, can we talk about how chic this packaging is? This essence is formulated with 89% lotus leaf extract instead of water, which means that along with all of the benefits of an essence, you’re also getting protection from free radicals AND anti-aging properties! You’ll notice your face looking brighter and more radiant!

Shani Darden Daily Toning Essence

I can’t say enough good things about getting a facial from my girl Shani Darden, and I’m so happy I get to have a little piece of her at home with me at all times with her new skincare line! This toning essence has quickly moved up the ranks of my ‘top shelf.’ It’s formulated with sake water which is an antioxidant known for purifying and it helps reduce pores and make your skin glow!


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Be The Skin Botanical Pore Toner

If your skin is on the oily side, this toner is perfect for you. It helps balance your skin’s pH level with all natural ingredients and it also has witch hazel in it, which is great for combating blemishes & breakouts. I’ve even read reviews of using this toner on your chest or back to prevent acne!

Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Toner

This is an office favorite, and you might recognize it as one of Jane’s French Girl Beauty Faves! It leaves your skin feeling matte without feeling overly dry, and is great for oily T-zones! One of the reasons I love this toner so much is that it’s formulated with natural salicylic acid which helps unclog AND tighten your pores and keep your face looking nice and matte.

Peach and Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner

If you have sensitive skin, this toner is perfect for you. You can use it daily to help control oil, unclog your pores and keep your skin feeling smooth. It has AHAs (which helps your skin cells turnover from exfoliating glycolic and lactic acids can even reduce acne scars), salicylic acid, and more to keep your skin clear, plus aloe to soothe!

Lagom Mist Toner

This toner is an awesome find because it’s applied with a mist as opposed to using your hands or a cotton pad. The non-aerosol pump gets the product all over your face to help balance your skin’s pH as well as protect your skin from harmful environmental factors.

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Have you been using a toner, essence, or both? Which do you prefer? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Photography by Karla Ticas
Location: Nomad Hotel DTLA

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