The 411 on Facial Toners and Essences

Toners and essences may seem like the same product, especially since they’re used right after cleansing your skin, however, they have completely different purposes.

These power players help skin effectively absorb the active ingredients in the rest of your products as you complete your skin care regimen, and provide weightless hydration to help restore skin’s natural moisture balance.

Facial toners and essences deliver many benefits to skin while simultaneously acting as a ‘primer’ for your skin care. Let’s break down what makes each formula different, their benefits and best application for both!

A toner’s primary purpose is to remove any impurities left on skin after cleansing and to help balance skin’s pH level.

Toners contain beneficial ingredients like glycerin or antioxidants. We love the belif Aqua Bomb Hydrating Toner, which helps remove remaining residue and makeup while giving skin a refreshing burst of hydration.

Pineapple extract from Farm Rx Pineapple Plus Instant Glow Toner is only one of the great vegan ingredients in a revitalizing toner that helps visibly minimize pores. The plus is a unique five fruits complex, an antioxidant blend of watermelon, papaya, fermented pomegranate, tomato and lemon extracts for visibly glowing skin.

This vegan anti-aging collection is derived from over 200 years of hand-crafted blended oils, calendula, olive oil and noble laurel from Marche, Italy, combined with pure herbs, edelweiss and thyme extracts from eco-green Switzerland. The Face Shop The Therapy Vegan Blending Toner was formulated to help boost moisture, and visibly improve skin’s elasticity, firmness and vitality. Dry, sensitive skin feels moisturized and quickly soothed.


It can balance skin’s pH levels.Do you live in an area that has hard water?  It’s been known to alter the pH on your skin, so a toner can help. 

It’s good for acne-prone skin. Toners are also a great product to use if you have acne-prone skin and/or clogged pores.

After cleansing, apply toner onto a cotton pad or ball and rub on your face and neck. Tissues can also work if you are in a pinch.  You might be surprised how much residue you see!

Essences have become increasingly popular in many of our journeys to improve our skin. These formulas are concentrated to target fine lines, wrinkles, uneven and dull skin like Farm Rx Super Greens Cooling Gel—all with weightless texture.

The main goal of an essence is to hydrate and prepare skin for the rest of the skin care products in your regimen.

Mission Luxereve’s Essence provides skin deep hydration, but also smooths skin.  So light and luxurious, once you start you won’t be able to stop.

They have a higher concentration of ingredients. Essences are typically packed full of vitamins and antioxidants that help hydrate and balance skin. They usually contain highly concentrated levels of active ingredients, which allows deeper penetration into the skin barrier.

They add an extra layer of hydration. Essences also soothe skin and aid in turnover, like Anew Hydra Fusion Gel Cream which ultimately contributes to a healthier complexion. And, because the formulas feature a weightless, watery-like texture that’s rich in moisture, they help your skin absorb other skin care ingredients more effectively.

Did you know?  An essence is considered one of the most, if not the most important part of a Korean skin care routine!

The best recommendation for application is to apply with your hands. Add a healthy amount of drops and gently press into your skin—no wiping or rubbing required. 

Rather than comparing toners and essences, look at them as complementary products. And they absolutely can be used together!

Toner should be used first. It’s the product that will help your face be the cleanest. It refreshes your skin and removes any lingering residue, while balancing and prepping the surface of your skin for other products.

Essence follows, while soothing skin, accelerating skin cell turnover and encouraging a smoother, healthier complexion, while “priming” your skin to help other skin care products absorb better.

Have you ever used a toner or essence? How did you like it?

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