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What is facial essence and how does it work?

Learn about the importance of facial essence from the Lancôme beauty experts, as well as the benefits, usage tips & techniques of essence in skin care.

What Is Facial Essences And How To Use It

Facial essences still appear to be somewhat of a mystery, as their origins sit in Korean skincare and have long been at the centre of elaborate K-Beauty routines. In recent years this type of skincare formulation has been embraced by forward thinking brands all around the world.

Essences for skin are sometimes described as a hybrid between a serum and a toner, but they each have their own distinct purpose and unique benefits compared to other types of skincare products. You’ll be happy to know that most facial essences are formulated to be suitable for all skin types and aid a wide variety of skin concerns including dullness, uneven texture, dryness and pigmentation.

Our guide to facial essence draws on experience and expertise from the Lancôme experts to share everything you need to know about essences, how they work and how best to incorporate them into your daily skincare regime. We’ll explain how facial essences are different from serums and toners, as well when and how to use them to enhance your radiant complexion.

What is the difference between toner and essence?

The essence vs toner debate is a common point of confusion in the skincare world. The fact that combo products called ‘essence toners’ exist only adds more uncertainty to the mix, so let’s clear things up.

The purpose of a toner is to refine the skin and remove any last traces of impurities that might be remaining after you cleanse your face. It can be a little hard to understand as essences also refine the skin, but the difference lies in the process. You can think of a toner as the end of the cleansing process, and an essence as the beginning of delivering nutrients and active ingredients to the skin. Since essences and toners create distinct benefits for your complexion, we recommend including both as regular steps in your daily skincare routine.

How is a facial essence different from a serum?

Essences are traditionally more lightweight and slightly less concentrated than a serum, although the line between the two is becoming less distinct over time. This confusion is likely due to essences become thicker in texture, whilst more lightweight serums are beginning to enter the market. Serums are usually delivered via a dropper and gently patted onto the skin, whereas essences are often delivered to the skin as a refreshing mist or spray formulation.

What are the benefits of adding a facial essence to your routine?

The main purpose of using a facial essence is to help bolster the effectiveness of the other elements within your skincare routine. How do essences achieve such an effect? It’s all down to essences’ molecular weight. Don’t fret, it’s a lot less complicated than it sounds. 

Molecular what?

To put things simply, the lower the molecular weight or size of a product’s molecules, the deeper a skincare product can penetrate and sink into the skin. Essences are extra light and usually formulated with hydrating ingredients.

Damp = better

You may have heard that many skincare ingredients are best absorbed when applied to a damp face. In addition to hydrating the skin at a deeper level, using a facial essence also provides an ideal slightly damp surface, primed to receive serums, face creams and oils.

Where does a facial essence fit into your skincare routine?

Now that we’ve unpacked the benefits of facial essences, you’re probably wondering how to use an essence as part of your daily skincare regime.

After cleansing, gently patting dry and toning your skin, it’s time to incorporate a facial essence into your skincare routine to kickstart the process of delivering moisture and active ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin.

Always slot your essence into your routine after your cleanser and toner, but before any serums, oils or creams. Layering your products based on texture ensures maximum absorption into the skin.

Absolue L’Extrait Essence Ultime Hydrating Mist

Hydrating Face Mist

Reveal radiant and even skin when you use the Absolue L’Extrait Essence Ultime Hydrating Mist, an incredibly refreshing superfine hydrating mist. This mist contains softening and hydrating rosewater, which is known for its ability to revive the radiance of tired skin.  This luxe essence harnesses the power of the Absolue Pressé, an oil-like formula for the next generation of Lancôme Rose native cells.

How to apply

Hold the essence approximately 30cm away from the face and use three progressive sprays to gently introduce a rosewater glow to your visage. This essence will evoke a feeling of freshness and comfort with every spray. You can further enhance product absorption by briefly warming the face before applying the essence. Briskly rub your hands together to warm them, before gently pressing your palms onto your forehead, cheeks and chin. Begin at the centre of the face and work outwards towards the side of the face for optimal absorption.


After consistent use, skin is softer and more supple and skin texture will look more refined. A radiant and even skin texture will reveal itself.

Build a routine

Match this essence with other products from the Absolue L’Extrait range for optimal benefits, such as the Yeux Eye Contour balm with its multi-faceted massaging petal applicator. The Absolue L’Extrait Elixir is another well-matched companion to this essence, containing up to 2 million Lancôme Rose native cells. This exceptional elixir will firm the skin for an enhanced youthful appearance.

Clarifique Dual Essence

Face Essence for Brightening

The effective brightening formula of the Clarifique Dual Essence will improve your skin texture and promote radiance through the power of epidermal enzyme science. Enriched with rare French beech bud extract, this essence works to refine the skin’s natural mechanism of renewal. How? Enzymes are biological accelerators that help with cell multiplication, eliminating dead cells and regulating pigment production.

How to apply

Use the Clarifique Dual Essence as part of your morning and night skincare routine. Apply to freshly cleansed skin after gently patting your face dry. The formula of this skin brightening facial essence consists of two phases which work best when blended together. It’s important to shake the essence before each use, then pour a few drops into the palm of your hand. Gently press the dual essence over your face and neck.


Immediately after your first use of this essence, your skin will be hydrated and feel energised, more supple, softer and soothed. After one week, your skin will feel more comfortable. After four weeks of consistent use, your skin will appear brighter. Your complexion will feel re-clarified yet replenished, for a new level of translucency.

Build a routine

To achieve even more radiance, pair the dual essence with our Advanced Génifique Youth Activatic Face Serum. The Génifique range utilises the power of prebiotic and probiotic fractions to restore the skin’s natural barrier, leading to a more balanced complexion.

Now that you’re fully informed about the benefits of incorporating a facial essence into your day and night skincare regime, it’s time to expand your understanding of enzymes. Read our Guide to Enzyme Skincare to discover how Lancôme’s Clarifique brightening skin product range accelerates biochemical reactions in the skin.


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