In my early twenties, I noticed a beautiful bottle of essence on my friend’s bathroom counter as we were getting ready to paint the town red. Being Asian, it’s not really a surprise to find a bathroom full of skin care products, although I hadn’t come across this particular brand before – SK-II.
I picked it up and dabbed some on the back of my hand.
“Don’t waste that,” she said to me with a smirk. “That’s expensive, but it’s worth it,” she continued while curling her hair.
“What is it? It looks like water,” I asked.
“It’s essence,” she said giving me a look like – how could you not know what essence is?
I knew about cleansers, exfoliators, toners, moisturizers and eye masks. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what the heck essence was or why we even needed yet another item to put on. My mother instilled in my sister and I to always take care of our skin. She trained us early, but even she didn’t use essence and I had never randomly come across it.
Thankfully, my friend gave me a quick introduction to what essence was and that was my very first interaction with an SK-II product. Since then, many years and purchases later, I’ve used a wide variety of SK-II products from the GenOptics Aura Essence to the SK-II Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil.
Every holiday my husband, Chris, always gifts me a value set from SK-II since he knows how much I love their products. It’s almost become somewhat of a ritual now for us. In the evenings before bed, I’ll brush my teeth, wash my face and ever so carefully dabble some SK-II Facial Treatment Essence into a soft round cotton pad and lightly pat it on my face and neck.
Like I mentioned above, I had absolutely no idea what essence was or that it even existed. I relied on a regimented plan of cleanser, sometimes toner, and then moisturizer. Every couple days I would put some eye moisturizing cream on. That’s what I learned, and it was all I knew until that fateful night with my friend.
Essence is a concentrated liquid formula aimed at resolving specific facial issues like dryness, minimizing pores, creating a more even tone, etc. It can sometimes be compared to serums, although serums are typically thicker and have more viscosity. Serums are also typically used by a dropper, while essence can be used with your fingers or a cotton pad and then applied to the face.
Toner is completely different. Toners are used after cleansing your face to get any leftover dirt off and to balance your face’s pH levels. It can often leave your face feeling tight and dry because it contains alcohol. Some newer toners on the market can come in alcohol free formulas which are much more sensitive. However, I don’t use toners as much anymore since discovering essence. There is also the topic of micellar liquid, which deserves it’s own post.
Back to essence, I’m a true believer in the power of essence and more specifically essence from SK-II.
The honest truth is, I wasn’t ever comfortable buying expensive skin care until my mid twenties. I was perfectly content with using drugstore skin care products, and they served their purpose well. Every now and then, I would treat myself to some expensive over the counter skin care. And when making that decision, it was done with the utmost care and attention. I was a young woman at this point just starting out in my career. I had enough money to afford a one-bedroom apartment, which made me feel so grown up, but not enough to simply buy luxury goods on a whim.
Like other beauty enthusiasts, I would go online and read reviews, check out the product website, and watch YouTube video reviews. Many times, I would even do the trial kits, before buying. Only then would I make the commitment to actually go to the department store and spend $80 or more. It truly was, and still is, a luxury to be able to afford high-quality skin care. But when I do take the plunge, I usually grab an SK-II product and relish in my skincare routine.