For those of you following along, this is the third installment in my skincare series on my blog and I have really been enjoying this topic. If you have a skincare topic you’d like me to write about please comment below or better yet Join my Email List! I promise it’s never spammy!
Skin and makeup go hand in hand, which is why this topic is so near and dear to me. It also has come to my attention very often that many people are even more unsure of their skincare then they are about their makeup. Bottom line: makeup will look 100x better on skin that is properly taken care of. Even the best, must expensive makeup products in the world will only look as good as the skin they’re being applied to, save for some magic done the makeup artist. At the end of the day your skin is your canvas, and makeup is the “paint”, as many of the men in our lives or just plain ol’ makeup heaters refer to it. But it is, hence the title makeup artist.
One particular area of confusion is the step after you cleanse. Ok, my face is clean, so I just moisturize and I’m done? Well, maybe. If you have naturally amazing skin that you have no concerns with yes. But many of us unfortunately do not fall into that category and need some help. Which is why I have designed this series and want to take a look at each step individually. So this post is dedicated to toner, or essence, or what’s the difference and why is this all so confusing?! Are they the same thing or is this a marketing gimmick? Do you need just one or both and this is getting to be pretty expensive! Trust me, I hear you and I’ve gone through all those questions too. I give you, Exhibit A:
This was brought to my attention by a friend who had some questions, and so do I. The first one being: what the what?! There is some truth to this graphic, and I do agree with the middle steps, but the outer layers I do not. At all. And where is Cleanser shown? Oh wait, it isn’t. So this image is suggesting that we need at least 6 products for our faces. And the list of questions in the comments on this post suggest that neither I nor the person who sent this to me were alone in our desire for more information. That’s not to say that everything about this is incorrect, but it’s important to remember that the account sharing it is a retailer, therefore their main goal is to sell you stuff. Period. Don’t be fooled by this, you do not need to go out and buy more stuff so that you check all the boxes on that chart. I also currently have some moral issues with Sephora and am currently refusing to shop with them but that’s another post for another day. You’ll note that the bottom of the image shows your Skin, then Essence, Serum, etc. I am assuming the wavy line is where cleansing takes place. But the 2nd step says Essence, and what is that even? Let’s talk about it.
The easiest way to compare toner to essence is to say that toner takes away, while essence adds.
Like so many things, depending who you ask, you may or may not need a toner and an essence. I am of the mind to say you do not need both. I also don’t subscribe to the notion of the 10-step Korean skincare routine. Yes, you read that right and it is really a thing. And I have every intention of discussing it here too. The graphic below shows the steps in order, and you’ll see that steps 4 & 5 are toner and essence. Don’t panic. Like everything else about beauty, not everyone falls into the same category and this can, and should be, modified to your skin type, lifestyle, and budget! I’ll also add that sheet makes are not an everyday thing, and are not meant to be. And that steps 9 & 10 can easily be combined into 1. I do wholeheartedly agree with steps 1 & 2 and you should know that by now if you checked out my last 2 posts in this series. Bottom line: these 10 steps are flexible, thank goodness. For now, we are going to concentrate on steps 4 & 5 I just wanted you to see what’s out there and currently extremely trendy in the beauty world.
In short, Toner is considered the final step in cleansing your skin. Essence is considered a preparation step for your serums. When deciding if you need a toner, an essence, or truly both you need to first consider what you need the most help with. Toner is often looked at as more of a refreshing product to balance the pH of your skin, where Essence is considered more of a smoothing, hydrating one. See the graphic below for a super easy comparison. Personally, I remember my first toner from the Clinique counter, which they still sell to this day as part of their infamous 3-step skincare routine which has been around for ages. Fun fact: those toners (astringents) used to actually contain Acetone. Yes, the same stuff you use to soak off acrylic or gel nails. You could quite literally remove stain from finished wood with it. Garbage. In short, toners of days past were extremely harsh and would strip the skin’s natural barrier right off and fortunately, things have changed quite a bit even at the Clinique counter.
So which do you need? If you tend to be oily, acne-prone, or have pore size concerns, a toner would be the way to go even if you choose to partner with an essence. If you are more dry, you may be able to skip the toner and try an essence, which tend to be more hydrating and less harsh. If you are really diligent in your product searching you can actually find hydrating toners which mean you definitely don’t need both products you can get the best of both worlds in one. Again, it’s important to consider your skin type and what works/feels good on your skin. A good, and very popular hybrid is the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner, which has real rose petals in it! I’ve used that one and also the Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner, which I do love and is more appropriate for my oily, sometimes broken out, giant pore’d skin. Um, you should click that link and look at the Details on the page just because it’s actually incredible. Truth be told Ole Henriksen is one of my fave skincare brands as a whole. One particular Essence that you may have seen, and is also quite popular but comes with a very hefty price tag is the SK-II Essence, which almost claims to be a miracle worker. In short, and unlike what Sephora may be suggesting not everyone needs an essence and not everyone needs a toner.
Tip: Always read ingredient lists, and be sure to steer clear of any toner or essence with alcohol on the list! (or anything Kylie Jenner is selling)
Do you need both? Even skincare experts agree with my opinion on this matter which is to be cautious of putting too much on your skin. The fact is that our skin can only absorb so much at the end of the day, and shoving more products onto our faces may not be the most effective way to get the skin of our dreams. in fact, it may actually end of backfiring on you. Toners are great for maintaining our skin, and if you want to add an essence to the mix, it should be to target concerns like aging and dryness. If you are unsure of the order to apply, simply scroll up to the 10-step Korean beauty skincare routine and you’re set! Remember: everything in moderation.
Also remember that if you have very serious skin concerns, my advice is and will always be to see a dermatologist. There may be a need for something that must be prescribed rather than recommended.