CHENNAI: For many of us, our first tryst with a toner was probably around the time of our first kiss. I remember them being alcohol-heavy, witch hazel- laden astringents which promised to dry up acne and clean up any residual grime. They stung (not always in a good way) and it was always satisfying to check the cotton pad to see just how clean this step made your face.
Were these great for your skin? Not necessarily — and somewhere in the midst of exfoliants and jade rollers, they stopped being a must-have product in our beauty cabinets. Then came in the old-school toner’s more exciting, easy-toconfuse- with cousin, the essence. Interestingly enough, essences are often referred to as miracle water or beauty water in Korea, and are the shining must-have baubles in K-beauty. Fuelled with the idea of nourishing the skin, instead of stripping it clean, the essence was typically filled with humectants, not as light and watery as a toner, and not as concentrated as a serum.
The goal here isn’t uberclean skin, which strips off the good bacteria as well, but something that will balance the pH levels after cleansing, and give you an additional layer of hydration. If you’re still wondering how exactly an essence works, it’s because they typically have a lower molecular weight than most moisturisers, and manage to penetrate deeper layers of the skin. It also essentially allows your skin to absorb your next product better. It helps to think of your skin as a sponge a dry sponge can’t absorb moisture as easily as a slightly damp one.
In a world trending towards 20-minute skin-care regimes and endless skin-care steps, I found respite in L’Occitane’s reset triphase essence. It’s incredible, really. The mist hydrates like a serum and gives a dewy sheen, in a sexy, I-justgot- back-from-hot-yoga kind of way. It has a 70:30 ratio of water and oil, and is packed with all the good things — prebiotics (food for the good bacteria), humectants, and the wonderful immortelle oil.
Let’s get down to the brass tacks: Do you need to be using an essence? It’s something I’ve asked myself every other night, as I spray myself down with a layer of L’Occitane’s goodness. The answer is that no, you don’t need an essence.
You need an SPF. You need human connection, a half-decent double cleanse routine and a moisturiser. There’s really no point in investing in a product, essence or otherwise, unless you don’t do the research to understand what it can bring to the table.
Happy skin-care shopping!
Saumya R Chawla
Beauty behaviour with a side of dessert