- MISSHA– Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist
- COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
- Then I Met You – The Giving Essence
- NEOGEN – Real Ferment Micro Essence
- MIZON – Water Volume EX First Essence
- Hanskin – Hyaluron Skin Essence
- COSRX – Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence
- Primera – Essence Miracle Seed
- Botanic Farm – Rice Ferment First Essence
- Benton – Snail Bee High Content Essence
- HONORABLE MENTION
- YURIPIBU – Artichoke Power Essence
- TONYMOLY – The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Essence
The 10-Step Skincare Routine is well known to the Korean Beauty Community. But if you’re new to K-Beauty, terms like ‘serum’, ‘exfoliator’, or ‘hyaluronic acid’ can be overwhelming. That is why we have prepared a guide about the essentials of K-Beauty in our series about the TOP10 K-Beauty products of 2023. First in the series are K-Beauty essences.
Essences are highly-concentrated treatments that use active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to help nourish the skin after cleansing. Essences come after toners and before oils, ampoules, serums, and moisturizers. They also balance your skin’s pH levels after cleansing and prepare it to absorb treatments better. Their main benefit is to nourish and hydrate the skin. As many different essences are out on the market, finding the right one can get a bit overwhelming. Therefore, it is essential to know your skin type to get the full effect.
People with oily skin should look for essences that contain witch hazel or green tea. These ingredients help to regulate the oil and sebum production on your skin while keeping it hydrated at the same time. Essences with hyaluronic acid gently moisturize your skin and are ideal for sensitive skin types. On the other hand, people with dry skin can look for essences that contain glycolic acid or lactic acid that mildly exfoliate their skin. Here is an overview of the top 10 K-Beauty Essences for 2023.
MISSHA– Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist
MISSHA is #1 on our site for having the best K-Beauty essence. This is a water-based essence that uses 80% fermented yeast. It does a great job of repairing damaged skin and improving skin tone. The yeast it uses comes from Himalayan purple barley and is excellent for plumping skin, refining texture, and reducing pigmentation. It also contains Niacinamide which brightens and clarifies your complexion. It is light on your skin and does not leave your face sticky. This is the more affordable substitute for SK II for those who don’t want to pay a high price. MISSHA stores across Seoul in department stores and tourist locations like Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.
Price: 44,000 won ($37)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.5/5 stars (1,605 global reviews)
COSRX – Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
Coming in at #2 on my list is the Advanced Snail Mucin 96 Power Essence by COSRX. It is a little thicker than the other essences on this list. This is probably because it has snail secretion filtrate. Snail mucin secretion is excellent not only for hydration but also for repairing damaged, dry skin. I like this essence because it seems to protect my skin from moisture loss. My skin feels hydrated throughout the day without any irritation. Snail essences are great for acne because they will not exfoliate your skin. The best part is the price!
Price: 23,000 won ($19)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.6/5 stars (14,947 global reviews)
Then I Met You – The Giving Essence
The K-Beauty Essence by Then I Met You contains 80% naturally fermented ingredients. It has antioxidant-rich red algae and berries, along with ellagic acid (protects against UV rays), galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, and Saccharomyces Filtrate. The Giving Essence is great for reducing the appearance of pores, blackheads, and sebum. It has a pH of 5 and is cruelty-free and vegan. For those that need a lot of moisture, this is one of the more hydrating essences out there and is absorbed quickly on the skin. It is best for those living in drier areas. The main issue is with the price; however, those that can afford it should give it a try.
Price: 56,000 won ($50)
NEOGEN – Real Ferment Micro Essence
NEOGEN has created a great essence called the Real Ferment Micro Essence. It is the best-selling essence on Soko Glam and is recommended by Charlotte Cho for achieving “honey skin”. The essence itself has no fragrance and has over 93% fermented ingredients, which are great for anti-aging and very moisturizing. The product also contains 17% birch juice for hydration and 9% rice extracts to help illuminate the skin. It soaks quickly into the skin and is very layer-able. It does a great job brightening skin and lightening dark spots.
Price: 45,000 won ($38)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.1/5 stars (22 global reviews)
MIZON – Water Volume EX First Essence
If you want an essence that offers great moisture to your skin, look no further than MIZON Water Volume EX. This essence contains snow algae extract, which helps calm your skin and helps with inflammation. I recommend using this after you have used your toner and before applying lotion. It contains ceramide, which helps lock in moisture. In addition, it contains moringa extract, which helps with acne and breakouts. A single bottle can last for up to 4 months when used twice daily.
Price: 22,000 won ($19)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.4/5 stars (382 global reviews)
Hanskin – Hyaluron Skin Essence
Hanksin might be hard to find, but many online K-beauty e-commerce sites offer products like the Hyaluron Skin Essence. This Essence is the best Essence for those with very dry skin. As it’s a powerful moisturizer, it leaves your skin dewy and plump after application. The product contains sodium hyaluronate, which holds 1,000 times more moisture than water. It is a little thicker than other essences, which is why it is great for dry skin. For those with normal skin, try using this during the winter months. It can also be used as a toner and is easily layer-able.
Price: 54,000 won ($49)
COSRX – Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence
Here is another COSRX Essence! COSRX is becoming a trendy brand for K-beauty. Their Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence was a huge hit towards the end of 2019. This essence has 95% Galactomyces ferment filtrate, which is great for hydrating, brightening, and smoothing the skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid, panthenol for moisture, niacinamide, and adenosine for younger-looking skin. When applied, it might feel a bit sticky, but it will be fully absorbed into the skin after a few minutes. For dry skin, this will work best under a moisturizer. COSRX was also recommended for our article on K-beauty skincare tips.
Price: 25,000 won ($21)
Primera – Essence Miracle Seed
Number 7 on my list of the top K-Beauty essences is Primera’s miracle seed. This product contains 93.1% lotus seed extract full of amino acids and linoleic acid. The lightweight moisturizer absorbs quickly into your skin and doesn’t leave any greasy feeling. It includes Niacinamide which is excellent for improving the texture and elasticity of your skin. It also does a great job of moisturizing, brightening your overall tone, and making your skin feel very soft. Your foundation will apply much better after using this product. It might be hard to find and a bit on the pricy side, but it is worth a try.
Price: 53,000 won ($45)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.5/5 stars (126 global reviews)
Botanic Farm – Rice Ferment First Essence
The Botanic Farm Rice Ferment First Essence is a big hit with older Korean women who tend to love rice water. Many K-Beauty essences use rice water, but this product uses fermented rice water. It is great for brightening and hydrating the skin. It uses lactic acid to exfoliate the skin and peony extract to help circulation. When applied, it soaks into the skin very quickly. It also contains a bit of licorice root extract, which helps brighten the skin. It does a great job of leaving the skin feeling soft and looking glowy. The bonus is that it has a lovely flowery smell.
Price: 41,000 won ($35)
Benton – Snail Bee High Content Essence
The essence with the strangest ingredient on our list is the Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence. This is a multitasking essence that is not only sensitive and skin-friendly but great for those with acne problems. It contains niacinamide, adenosine, snail secretion filtrate, and collagen-boosting bee venom. That these work well to improve brightening and wrinkles. The serum absorbs well into the skin and is clear with no scent. For those with hormonal acne, this product will help fade it away in weeks. It is not as expensive as the other essences.
Price: 24,000 won ($20)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.4/5 stars (148 global reviews)
YURIPIBU – Artichoke Power Essence
YURIPIBU is one of the K-beauty brands that are bringing a lot of innovative ingredients to K-beauty products. This is one of the few K-Beauty essences containing artichoke (60%) extract that will help you eliminate loose skin. In addition, this essence is great for opening pores by tightening the skin. It contains ten natural moisturizing factors that help smoothen rough/dry skin. Apply this essence after using a toner and before applying a moisturizer. Those that want firmer skin and more elasticity need to use this product. It gets absorbed completely and doesn’t leave a shine or make your skin look greasy.
Price: 54,000 won ($46)
TONYMOLY – The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Essence
TONYMOLY came out with one of the most underrated hydrating K-Beauty essences. The term “Chok Chok” means dewy in Korean; this essence will do a great job of moisturizing the skin. It comprises 80% fermented green tea extract, which acts as an antioxidant. The product contains lemon seed oil which works as an antifungal agent. It has a great clean scent with no added fragrance, which makes it great for sensitive skin. The product itself is not as sticky as the others. I recommend using this alongside a vitamin C serum or tea tree toner.
Price: 33,000 won ($28)
Amazon Customer Reviews: 4.1/5 stars (2 global reviews)