The Best Essences Under $50 (And Why You Need One)
Slotting an essence into your daily routine is like a fast-track ticket to glowier skin. How so? The K-Beauty-created formula hydrates and balances the skin using effective ingredients to deeply penetrate the skin, helping to boost absorption of other products that follow. Plus, depending on the essence, they can help brighten dull skin, and gently exfoliate and target other skin concerns.
An essence is usually a water-like texture, although some are a little thicker. Instead of drenching a cotton pad in essence and wasting any of the precious formula, apply a little into your hand, and gently massage and tap the formula into your skin. Just be sure to apply your essence after you’ve toned and before you apply your serum and/or moisturizer. And don’t be confused into believing an essence is the same as a toner. Instead, think of it as an extra layer of hydration and one step closer towards glass skin goals.
Here are nine of our fave essences under $50:
1. For All Skin Types: CORSX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $23
COSRX has been one of our go-to beauty brands for years, thanks to its effective, reliable formulas. And the CORSX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, $23, is one of their hero products! Don’t be put off by the snail extract, it helps brighten and hydrate the skin while simultaneously supporting the skin barrier. It’s also enriched with hyaluronic acid to boost skin moisture and amino acids to encourage radiance. This formula is a true overachiever!
2. For Hydration: E.l.f Hydrating Water Essence, $10
Many people don’t use essences as they’re seen as an extra step that can be a bit of a splurge. However, this drugstore essence is not only hella-affordable but the formula seriously comes through. Infused with purified coconut water, it’ll penetrate and hydrate the skin at a deeper level while coffee extract energizes and brightens the skin. It also contains restorative algae that’ll help protect the skin from environmental aggressors. All for $10? We’re using it daily, day and night!
Extra tip: Transfer your essence into a glass spray bottle so it can be used as a DIY mist between skincare layers or to hydrate your skin throughout the day.
3. For Glass Skin: Mizon Mela Defense White Capsule Essence, $34
This essence is a recipe for glowy, glass skin and is so named for its ingredients, sakura and white flower, which help to brighten and even skin tone. Formulated with vitamin E, vitamin C, and raspberry extract, the serum works overtime to enhance radiance and protect the skin from harmful free radicals. It also provides a surge of hydration thanks to the combination of jojoba, meadowfoam seed oil, and rice bran oil. We love it as it leaves our skin with a luminous glow.
4. For Oily Skin: Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Essence, $49
This pore-busting essence features glycolic acid to gently exfoliate the skin and nix oil production, making it a must-have for oily or acne-prone skin. It also boasts brightening white peony extract and grape water to moisturize and plump the skin. Plus, it works wonders on dark spots and hyperpigmentation. #Obsessed
5. For Dry Skin: Huxley Oil Essence Secret of Sahara, $35
This unique formulation is part-essence, part-oil, therefore it’s slightly heavier than your typical water-like essence. Providing intense hydration, it’ll penetrate the skin with organic prickly pear cactus seed, which is packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants to strengthen the skin’s epidermis. It also boasts quinoa and acai extract to support skin elasticity and leave your skin feeling firm and supple. We’re obsessed as the texture feels like velvet.
Top tip: Don’t be afraid to alternate between multiple formulas. For instance, you could use a lighter essence in the morning and a more intense formula at night.
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6. For Acne-Prone Skin: Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, $46
If your skin is prone to texture or dullness, this serum will help. Enriched with salicylic acid to remove dead, dull skin as well as sodium hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid) it’ll simultaneously exfoliate and hydrate the skin. Not to mention, the named anti-aging ingredient, Iris extract, will provide your skin with radiance-boosting and protective antioxidants.
7. For Brighter Skin: Neogen Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Essence, $38
Unlike other products on our list, this essence is formulated with a micro bio-fermented complex, which will moisturize, brighten, and plump the skin. With continual use, it’ll also strengthen the skin’s barrier preventing future moisture loss and harmful pimple-busting bacteria entering the skin. It doesn’t leave any greasy or oily residue, which is another huge selling point.
8. For Constant Hydration: Saturday Skin Daily Dew Hydrating Essence Mist, $47
If you’re looking to reset and refresh your skin, this essence is the answer. The mist will instantly rejuvenate the skin, delivering moisture both under and over makeup. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, kiwi, and grape extract, it’ll support skin elasticity while improving skin tone and texture. It’s also infused with a cha-7 complex, which facilitates the skin’s regeneration process to soften the appearance of imperfections and fine lines (with regular use). We also love that it’s a mist as it allows for easy application.
Top tip: To amp up your glow game, use a hydrating essence followed by a vitamin-C serum. The essence will maximize and intensify the brightening effects of vitamin C.
9. For Dewy Skin: Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence, $39
Our daily routine would not be complete without this essence. The potent, multi-tasking savior not only combats breakouts but it hydrates and boosts radiance. Comprised of brightening niacinamide, firming adenosine, antioxidant-rich lotus extract, as well as restorative bamboo and radish extract, it’ll replenish your skin like nothing else! After using this essence for just two weeks, our skin tone was more clear, even, brighter, and felt more hydrated than ever before.
Do you guys use an essence in your routine? Let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. We never take payment to review products, however, some brands allow affiliate links, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.