Are you confused by all the choices and terminology in facial lotions these days?  There are serums, primers, moisturizers, ampoules, and now there are essences.  Essences are the new kids in town, straight from Asia. Essences are a concentration of botanical extracts and nutrients in a clear, lightweight liquid.


Ampoules contain a high concentrate of ingredients, usually botanical extracts, vitamins and enzymes.  They have no preservatives or chemicals.  They are designed to meet specific facial skin needs.  They can be very effective for irritations, hyper-pigmentation and aging.  They can come in oil or gel form and have a light texture.

Serums have a higher concentration of ingredients than ampoules and are more expensive.  They target specific skin issues, such as anti-aging, pore tightening, skin discoloration, firming, or skin brightening to name a few.  They have a thicker texture than essences and are clear.

Toners act as pH balancers or exfoliants.

An essence is lighter than a serum or a cream, but can often be more concentrated and pack a mightier punch than serums.  Essences should be used just after cleansing the skin.  Essences infuse the skin with nutrients and moisture. An essence does not replace using a serum or moisturizer.  In fact, it will add a step to a users’s daily skin routine. Some essences claim to help firm and tighten loose skin while others promise radiance and brightening.  In most of the reviews I read, the author had tried an essence and had noticeable results.

Primers are creams or lotions that are applied before foundation or other cosmetics to improve coverage and length of time the cosmetics will last on the face.

If you incorporate an essence into your skin care, the recommended morning routine should be:

Cleanse, Tone, apply Essence, apply Moisturizer/Sunscreen, apply Primer, apply BB cream or Foundation.

The recommended evening routine should be:

Exfoliate, Tone, Mask, apply Serum, apply Moisturizer.

Women in Japan never take short cuts in the above regimen.  Korean women often have 10 – 18 steps in their beauty regimens!

Exhausting, worth a try, but they’re not cheap!

Here are a few essences that are well reviewed:

SK II Facial Treatment Essence is $70.00 for 2.5 oz.


Clinique Even Better Essence Lotion, $46.00.


Estee Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion is $95.00 for 5 oz.