Essences & Serums: How Are They Different?

Essences & Serums: How Are They Different?

Ever since K-beauty popularized skincare layering, the term “essence” has been thrown around a lot. After all, essences are “the heart of Korean beauty.”

At first glance, essences may look similar to serums – a product that people generally understand. But while they sometimes address the same skin conditions -- such as dullness, fine lines, and rebalancing skin -- essences and serums are not the same.

Here's some help telling the difference between these two important product forms.

What’s an essence?

Essences are lightweight formulas designed to add another layer of hydration, boost absorption, and help prepare your skin for the next steps in your routine. Formulas like our Defend Skin Shielding Essence contain powerful ingredients, such as ginseng, to address skin needs such as wrinkles or dullness caused by internal and external stressors. Packing a punch with a light consistency, essences will give you that hydrated glow from within look.

What’s a serum?

Serums are formulas with heavy-hitting ingredients that are designed to act as a targeted treatment for specific skin need such as dryness, dullness, or wrinkles. Unlike essences, serums have a thicker consistency because they have higher concentrations of active ingredients.

If your skin is getting dry and you want to restore that deliciously bouncy surface back, a hydrating serum with ingredients such as squalane and hyaluronic acid (or Sodium Hyaluronate), might do your skin some justice.

If you are looking for a little brightening, then a serum with vitamins and antioxidants might offer the boost you need.

Listen to your skin

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what your skin needs. In the case of essences and serums, it will depend on your preference too. There isn’t a definite rule or a one-size-fits-all routine.

If you’ve been stressed out and your skin’s dull from the lack of sleep, but you don’t want a heavyweight treatment, use an essence to tackle those issues.

If you want a more targeted treatment, try out the more powerful serum. Or, as Korean women have been doing for decades, use an essence and then a serum to get that youthful radiance your skin is always craving for.


About the author, Naomi Furgiuele
Naomi is the founder of Nuria and a self-professed nerd with a love for all things science and skin care. She’s had a hand in product development for some of the biggest global beauty brands in the business, gets some of her best ideas while out on a run, and loves her exfoliator almost as much as her awesome family.


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