SAVI on Trend - Toner Vs. Essence, which is the best skincare option?
Skincare is about a 24 billion dollar industry in America. On average we spend $500 per year on overall cosmetics and perfumes. So, it’s not uncommon when a new trend (K-Beauty) and the huge wave of new skincare technology that supposed to “revolutionize our skin” (anti-aging, glowing appearance, etc) we meet that $500 per year pretty quickly. I’m a skeptic at heart, so, if you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I test everything anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months prior to giving my full stamp of approval or respectfully declining it. Full disclosure of the brand that I will be recommending is for two reasons: my skin type (normal to combination, mild Rosacea) works great with their products and price.
Let’s begin with the basics. I will define the two (Toner and Essence) and where they fall unto your skincare routine. A Toner is a water-based formula that can perform multiple skin checks after you cleanse. Toners can range from DIY, Target options to department store brands. Depending on your skincare approach from DIY to clean beauty you will find many options that will fall into your style and price. However, not all toners are created equal so make sure that you read up on your ingredients and that it offers all the benefits possible. Here’s a list of a well rounded Toner;
- Helps clean any leftover debris from cleanser
- Skin Toning
- Soothes (when rosewater is present)
- Helps retain moisture
- Enhance Suppleness (when hyaluronic acid is present)
- Corrects Ph Balance (due to hard water used when cleansing)
In reality, a toner is a second skin check before moving on to your next step which can be anywhere from serums, retinol, or moisturizer. A toner is also very easy to use, pour a few drops onto a cotton pad and gently wipe across your face and neck. I started using a toner to soothe my skin since it’s very sensitive due to the Rosacea. My skin needed an extra boost of hydration prior to moving on to my morning or pm skincare routine. Since most toners are water based I did my homework and discovered that rosewater is the most efficient and the superior option for toners.
I was already introduced to Fresh skincare products so to my happy surprise there Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner was an easy addition. Fresh’s Rose Toner is not drying and has rose petals floating within the solution. From time to time, you will get a petal that comes through and it will literally melt on your face. Lastly, very little goes a long way so no need to soak the cotton pad with it especially if you double cleanse (more to come on double cleansing). I’m on my second bottle and give it my full stamp of approval. Now, if you are looking for something more reasonably priced I recommend two options Thayer – Witch Hazel Toner-Rose Petal and Mario Badescu. Thayer has been around for some time and has raving reviews (price range $9.35 -12.75 on Amazon). Thayer also gives you a few options to pick form not necessarily rosewater but their top seller is the rose water for its extra benefits. Mario Badescu is a younger brand but it has a huge cult following for its amazing price $7.00 and quality products. Mario Badescu may have simple packaging but it’s understood they put the value where it’s needed in there ingredients. It can also be found in most Ulta Beauty Stores.
Essence (does it sound like sexy skincare? Or is just me!? lol) was recently introduced to that masses via Sephora’s huge support for K-Beauty. Korean beauty skincare has always been known for being progressive and sometimes a bit risky for our American palette (skin whitening products). However, essences made its biggest introduction by J-Beauty (Japanese) very luxurious brand SK-II. As for my definition of luxurious the average product ranges from $90-290. Now, with K-Beauty in full swing other brands took the opportunity of bringing more affordable essence options to the market.
An Essence provides the same qualities of a toner but with additional skincare technology from protecting against pollutes, anti-aging qualities, and maximizes the performance of all skincare to follow. However, instead of a water-based formula, it’s a combination of multiple ingredients via fermentation. The ingredients can range from green or black tea, algae, rice and/or kombucha (nutrient packed!). One of their biggest technology is how their ingredients protect the skin by providing a shield to pollutes. The most impressive benefit is how essence maximizes your skincare by prepping the skin to effectively absorb more of the products that follow (Tatcha – linked below has a great YouTube video to demonstrate). As I explain above after a toner is used in our skincare it is followed by serums, retinol or moisturizers. This was the reason I decided to give essence an opportunity since I was very happy with my toner. However, most of our investment in skincare is around our serums and moisturizers. So, if there’s anything that can give me more for my buck then it’s worth giving it a try.
The first thing I noticed is the consistency varies from brand to brand for example; SK-II has a more water and alcohol-feel since its very fast absorbent. Since essences are fermented they tend to have a smell that isn’t like most skincare (think kind of skunky but faint). Tatcha’s Essence (PS. If you haven’t heard of Tatcha they have the most amazing clean beauty products with sophisticated formulas combined with ancient Japanese rituals) formula feels like soft water that’s very gentle on the skin but a much more pleasing fragrance then SK-II. Lastly, Fresh introduced their very own essence and to no one’s surprise, it has become my favorite. Their consistency is a good mix of soft water and oil based (even though oil isn’t their base). This texture won me over immediately and it also has the most delicious smell out of the three. All three very quickly showed results with much more glowing and hydrating skin. I especially like how supple my skin looks overall. I’ve come to the conclusion that since I hadn’t changed my serums that their maximizing technology must be very effective.
Fresh spoke to me for its consistency but mainly because it was a great balance of hydration and not drying. SK-II, I will recommend for my oily skin type ladies. I noticed that my skin felt it a little too much of their fast absorbance technology creating some dry spots. I quickly realized SK-II would be a great benefit to someone with the need for oil control. Tatcha’s option was just as great with the consistency I would even be so bold to say I prefer Tatcha's over Fresh since Tatcha’s could be for any skin type vs. I feel Fresh’s is for those who love hydration above all, like myself. Fresh ended up winning me over because the difference between the two was so slim that their price of $68 vs.$95 made my final decision easy.
Since essence is just like a toner it is also used in place of a toner in your skincare routine. I recommend doing one vs. the other. Some skincare fanatics do both a toner then follow it with an essence. I personally think that’s a bit too much and that’s coming from someone that has an 8-10 step PM routine. I own both at this time but I can see myself not repurchasing the rose toner in the future since my essence is so efficient. However, there are days that my skin needs a break from skincare, so, my toner is preferred then my essence (don’t want to be wasteful of my essence since no serums will follow).
As for how to use an essence it’s a bit more playful than just pouring onto a cotton pad. I do demonstrate it on my Instagram Stories under Beauty Highlights. However, below I list the how to use steps.
Step 1) Pour a few drops straight onto your palm of your hand.
Step 2) Rub your hands together and warm up the product (a few quick seconds).
Step 3) Pat your face very gently with the product. Most importantly do a pat and rolling motion on your face and neck. Always remember to pat and roll an upwards motion.
Step 4) Lastly, don’t forget to get it in the little crevices by using your ring finger especially around your lower eye area, also using the gentle pat and rolling motion.
And Viola! You are all done and ready for your next steps.
The biggest take away is that depending on your style of skincare routine (American – super efficient and time-saving or K-beauty – indulgent and skincare worth its time and price) and skin type (normal, oily, or combination) a toner or essence would greatly benefit you and you would see amazing results (must allow it at least 2 months to see full effects).
Efficient and Time-Saving - Toner
High-quality products and indulgent - Essence
My recommendation is that if you are just exploring the idea, I can’t say enough to start by purchasing the travel size options (which I tested with and it lasted about 2 months) or start at the lower price options, they will also provide great results. As a skeptic at heart jumping into a new skincare product and since most essences are pretty pricey I would start slow and see if it’s something that fits your lifestyle. I hope I was able to clarify between the two options and how beneficial they would be for your skincare routine. I personally am an "extra" person when it comes to skincare so, exploring these new beauty technologies are always fun and exciting. So be conscious of who you are from either a fast and quick skincare routine to an indulgent and “me time” person will help you choose which option is best for you. There is nothing more effective in skincare products then being able to stick to a routine that fits YOU!