No Lie—This Underrated Skincare Hack Completely Changed My 42-Year-Old Skin


(Image credit: @monikh)

At the risk of sounding like a total braggarina, my skin is in the best shape it has been in decades. I’m not exaggerating. For someone who has been acne prone her whole life, it’s almost supernatural that I’ve only had one pimple since the year started. But it’s not only the lack of breakouts that have me in awe at my own complexion, but my makeup also goes on so much better, my texture is so smooth, and my fine lines and wrinkles are reduced although I’m overdue for Botox. It’s wild! I have a few theories as to why my skin is top-notch these days, one of them being essences. Once I began incorporating them into my skincare routine every single day, I noticed something monumental was happening.


(Image credit: @marielodiandreakos)

If you’ve never really understood the hype around what essences do, it’s understandable since they’re relatively new in the whole skincare scheme of things. According to Alicia Yoon, Korean skincare expert and founder of Peach & Lily, essences were popularized in Korea and Japan because there’s a foundational focus on keeping the skin hydrated.

"Hydrated skin is one of the pillars for healthy skin. When skin is dehydrated, so many other skin issues can crop up. Hello, irritation, loss of firmness, dark spots, breakouts!” explains Yoon. "Essences are specifically formulated to quench skin thirst easily due to the fast-absorbing texture and concentrated dose of humectants that grab moisture to skin. Think of essence as a Super Soaker for skin—it's your fast lane to plumped up, hydrated skin.” Peach & Lily’s Wild Dew Treatment Essence ($39) delivers intensive plumping, hydration, antioxidants, and brightening benefits and is proven to enhance the absorption of your other products, all while being clean and gentle to the skin and the Earth.

Yoon goes on to say that essences typically allow other skin treatments to absorb better into the skin. "Adding this extra step not only gives you plumped up, dewy skin but also lets your other products go further for you,” she says. For me personally, this means that other game-changing products that I began using this year, like Alastin’s A-Luminate Brightening Serum ($168), are getting a big boost just because I slapped on an essence beforehand. (Well, not slapped per se, but gently pressed into my skin.) 

Ready to add an essence to your routine and get great skin like me? It’s an easy step. Yoon says that most essences are pH balanced and are intended to be used twice a day either right after cleansing or cleansing and toning and before your serum treatments. There are all sorts of essences. Some of them have specific ingredients that target issues like pigmentation and rough texture, so you’ll be able to find the right one for you. Learn about my other favorite essences below.

Up next, I Spent 3 Hours Topless in the Sun and Didn't Get Burned—My 3 Secret Weapons

Marie Lodi
Freelance Beauty and Fashion Writer/Editor

Marie has covered beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for almost 15 years. She contributes to the beauty section here at Who What Wear. Previously, she was the Looks Editor for Bust Magazine, built the beauty vertical at HelloGiggles as its beauty editor, and was a founding staff writer at Rookie mag, giving fashion advice to teens. Her bylines have appeared in The Cut, Allure, Glamour, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. She was born and raised in Southern California and is based in L.A. Marie is a self-proclaimed costume design nerd and a co-host of Makeover Montage, a podcast about fashion in film and costume design. You'll see her writing about her beauty obsessions: red lipstick, winged eyeliner, pink hair, nail art, and skincare for people over 40. When she's not working, she's playing with her dog, Gnocchi, and writing her style newsletter, Overdressed.