Essence vs. Serum: When To Use Them

Aug 25, 2022

The ongoing debate between when to use an Essence vs Serum

More and more beauty bloggers and publications are talking about facial essences. Even if you’re a well-versed skintellectual, “facial essences” may feel unfamiliar to you but an essential step in the K-Beauty Routine. The term essence derived from the word Essential. 

Let’s discuss the differences and similarities between essences and serums and break down when to use them to get your lushest, glowiest skin.

What Is an Essence?

Facial essence originates from the Korean beauty industry. While it has traits in common with products you already may be accustomed to using, it’s actually its own distinct product and step in your routine. 

An essence is a water-based product containing botanicals designed to help hydrate, prime, and nourish your complexion. It can get a little confusing when you’re used to using serums because an essence comes after cleansing, and that’s traditionally where you’d apply your serum.

When to apply the Essence

However, your essence should come before your serum and other skincare products because it can act as a primer, making your skin better able to absorb all the many benefits your serums and moisturizers may provide. You also want to layer products from lightest to heaviest, which is why essence comes before serum.

Essences use ingredients like water, hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, and vitamin or lipid-rich extracts, often from plants, which can offer a wide range of antioxidant benefits. These are all crucial nutrients when balancing your complexion and supporting your skin barrier.

The advantages of Essence

Essences are great at increasing the efficacy and absorption of your other skincare products and rebalancing it after the cleansing step. As the cleansing step is always a very stressful step in your skincare routine. they’re not to be confused with toner because your toner is also its own distinct step. 

While essences are meant to infuse your skin with nutrients, toners are primarily designed to clear your face of dirt and impurities. But what dirt? After your cleansing step your skin should be clean; otherwise the cleanser isn't given you what you need it to do. Thus, we don't offer a toner in our range for now while we find out what we believe a toner's purpose is in a skincare range. 


What Is a Serum?

If you have an established skincare routine, you probably already use a serum! Serums are typically formulated with a high concentration of active ingredients. This high concentration of an active ingredient can help the product work more efficiently.

For instance, some of the active ingredients you might find in a serum, like Lactic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid, could also be included in the formulation of your moisturiser. But a serum will likely have much more of that given active ingredient, which means it can deliver more significant results much faster — which is why you want it in your skincare routine!

Discover NAYA's Glow Serum

NAYA's Glow Serum can dramatically change how your skin looks with the breakthrough antioxidant complex of the Glow Complex.  

The Glow Complex is a cascading antioxidant, which means that once it’s done fighting a free radical, it reacts by taking on a new form that can fight the next free radical… and the next one after that, and the next one after that.


So What Exactly Is the Difference Between Essence and Serum?

This can be a little confusing! Not only do serums and essences often look similar in terms of packaging, but the usual guidance will often tell you to use both right after cleansing and toning. 

But while both of these products can contain similar ingredients and should be applied at similar points in your routine, they have different roles to fulfill.

Your serum is more likely to be thicker and more viscous — this means it works a little harder than your essence when it comes to penetrating the layers of your skin. A serum is also generally employed to target specific complexion concerns. But not as NAYA, we make no different between the biocompatible actives we include in our essence or serum. The difference for us is the focus of the skin need at the stage of the skincare routine. 


Renew Flawless Glow Duo

For instance, our RENEW Flawless Glow Duo is formulated not just to target signs of ageing but also help balance your skin and support an even, blemish-free skin tone. With a potent blend of Niacinamide, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid to help deliver hydration, fight visible signs of ageing, and address breakout-related concerns, it’s the all-in-one solution you and your breakout-prone skin need to truly glow.

The advantages of Renew Flawless Glow Duo

And unlike other blemish-fighting products, Renew Flawless Glow Duo doesn’t disrupt your skin barrier with harsh ingredients. Instead, it helps to support it, which is just what your skin needs to get back on track after a breakout. It also keeps your skin balanced and hydrated so you experience fewer blemishes in the future.

An essence can support proper hydration, offer nutrients to help fight blemishes, and keep your skin barrier strong. This is what we aimed at by delivering Aura. Aura is not your normal essence. We wanted to spice it up and give it the NAYA-extra. By focusing on balancing the skin microbiome after the cleansing step - ultimately giving Aura a multi-purpose. It is rich with biokompatible actives

Aura has addresses multiple needs 

  • Aura Essence balances your skin microbiome
  • As a result, it then reduces break-outs as the microbiome is more balanced
  • It is rich with hyaluronic acids to plumb up your skin and fight pre-mature ageing
  • And it relaxes the skin and reduce redness

When Should You Use an Essence and a Serum?

Many say, if you have to choose between an essence and a serum, a serum is probably the more potent product to add to your routine. That is not true! It is not either or; or one is more potent than the other. 

That said, if your skin is particularly sensitive and you’ve struggled with active ingredients or products with potent concentrations in the past, a toner might be a great way to be used without irritating it. So if your skin doesn’t seem to play well with serums or essences, in that case, an essence might be a good alternative.

How to layer the products

But luckily, you don’t need to choose between them! In fact, using both an essence and a serum has been shown in studies to support overall skin hydration, firmness, and elasticity, while reducing water loss throughout the day. Because each product serves a purposes and focuses on a skin need. 

So if you think your skincare routine could do with a little optimising and you’re looking to dial up your glow a couple of notches, adding an essence to your routine can help.

No.1 Cleanser

In order to use these products in your routine, you’ll want to start with a gentle yet effective cleanser like our Everyday Cleansing Oil. 

With makeup-melting Rapeseed Oil and gentle, plant-based ingredients like Pomegranate and Hemp Seed Oil to help soothe your skin; Everyday Cleansing Oil will give your skin the gentle but effective cleanse it needs without side effects. The Cleansing Oil helps to restore moisture to help your skin glow and to help lock in moisture so that your skin feels pillow-soft.

Unlike other cleansers with harsh surfactants and toxic chemicals that can strip your skin of necessary moisture and increase the likelihood of side effects, our Everyday Cleansing Oil removes even the toughest waterproof mascara without siphoning any moisture from your skin

No.2 Essence

After your cleansing step, it is time for your essence!

Then, use our Aura Essence to help prepare your skin to best absorb your other products, balance your microbiome and prime your skin. 

Your serum, because it’s generally going to be thicker, will come after your essence. Your essence can also help prime your skin to be as receptive as possible to the potent active ingredients you’re hopefully delivering to it with your serum.

No.3 Face Oil and Moisturiser

Finish your routine with a moisturising face oil or cream moisturiser.

Our Everyday Face Oil with Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil is a moisturising face oil containing 7 organic oils to nourish and support your skin barrier. 

It delivers a youthful-looking glow while Bisabolol and Cacay nourish the skin with Fatty Acids and maintain a plump appearance.

For your cream moisturiser, consider our Everyday Day Cream. Everyday Day Cream is an anti-ageing cream moisturiser that 100% of subjects agreed made their skin look and feel smoother, softer, more glowy and deeply hydrated. That’s because we use a combination of biocompatible actives unique to our formulations; one of the most potent cascading antioxidants that single-handedly fights five signs of ageing.

Our formula also features an exclusive Hydra-Cocktail of protein rejuvenators, humectants (five different types of Hyaluronic Acid), emollients, and breathable occlusives that helps lock moisture in and maintain the skin barrier. 

And the best part? We use zero pore-clogging waxes, which is a top ingredient in practically every other moisturiser on the face of the planet.

In Conclusion

Choosing the right products for your skin can be a challenge! And when new products start getting recommended left and right, you may wonder if it’s time to change your usual lineup.

While a traditional serum is chock full of vitamins and provides a targeted skincare treatment, essences are broader and generally not as concentrated. However, at NAYA, we deliver proven effective skincare for your timeless beauty. 

Ultimately, the choice is up to you! Either way, make sure to check back into our blog for our tips on how to get your most gorgeous glow possible.

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