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Essence Vs Toner: What’s the Difference?

Essence vs toner side by side with Clarifique Essence and Tonique Confort Toner

Once you’ve mastered the most basic steps of a good skincare routine, such as cleansing and moisturizing, it can get a little trickier to understand other products, such as toners and face essences, and what they can do for your complexion. For instance: essence vs toner; what’s the difference? What does toner do, and how is that different from face essence? Is toner for oily skin only? We’re here to help. While both products are typically used as a prep step, toner and face essence are two different formulas that offer specific benefits for skin. Read ahead to learn how they differ.

What Is Toner?

Toner is a skincare product that is typically used right after your cleanser or cleansing routine and before applying moisturizer. Toners typically have a silky, serum-like consistency that helps to balance the skin's pH level, remove any remaining traces of dirt or makeup, and prepare the skin for the next products in your skincare routine. Toner may contain ingredients like antioxidants, humectants, or astringents, and is applied by gently patting or swiping it onto the skin using a cotton pad. It’s suitable for most skin types and can be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine.

What Does Toner Do for Skin?

Years ago, toner was once a staple for those who dealt with breakouts or excess oil; in fact, toners for oily skin had astringent properties (meaning they remove oil) or alcohol, which were thought to give skin a deeper clean than cleansing alone. But for that reason, they were considered too drying, and thus not ideal for the skin barrier.

These days, toners are far less drying than their first-gen versions. While they still remove impurities from skin, and indeed deliver a more thorough clean, newer formulas work to restore skin’s pH balance and even hydrate skin as they purify pores. For example, Tonique Confort is an alcohol-free formula that nourishes and moisturizes skin, leaving it instantly smooth and soft.

How to Use Toner: As the last step in your cleansing routine, toner helps restore the pH balance of your skin. Since toners can remove debris from skin, using a cotton pad is best. This way, you will remove any residue from skin instead of moving it around your face.

Toner Texture: Silky serum-like consistency

Toner Benefits: Rids skin of impurities

Tonique Confort Hydrating Toner with Hyaluronic Acid
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What Is Essence for Skin?

Face essence is a newer skincare category that was originated by K-Beauty (Korean skincare also paved the way for ampoules, by the way!). They’re usually watery in texture versus the serum-like consistency of toners, so they tend to sink into skin more quickly. Face essence is a skincare product that hydrates the skin and may offer additional benefits, such as exfoliation and radiance, though, depending on the formula.

What Does Essence Do for Skin?

Compared to toners, face essences can offer your skin more of a targeted treatment. They prepare your skin to receive hydration and benefits from products applied afterward, like your serums and moisturizers. Essences can hydrate, smooth, or brighten skin — or all of the above. In doing so, they get skin ready, or act as a primer, for the rest of your hydration routine. Some face essences use active ingredients to do just that. Clarifique Double Facial Treatment Essence, for instance, is an alcohol-free face essence that is formulated with 4 exfoliating acids, including salicylic, glycolic, phytic, and lactic acids that gently resurface, plus Beech Bud extract and hydrating oils to help visibly improve tone, texture, pores, and overall radiance.

How to Use Essence: As the first step in your hydration routine, an essence preps your skin for your skincare routine. To receive the most face essence benefits, simply pat it into skin with your hands after toning and before applying serum.

Essence Texture: Water-like consistency

Essence Benefits: Provides hydration and gently exfoliates

Clarifique Double Treatment Essence
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How to Incorporate Essence and Toner into Your Skincare Routine

While you can choose between essence vs toner, you may also want to use them both in your skincare routine. After cleansing or double cleansing, use toner to balance and rid skin of impurities. And before you apply your moisturizer or hydration routine, use face essence to rehydrate and prepare your skin to best receive hydration and benefits from products applied afterward. These two products help ensure you get maximum skin benefits, leaving skin perfectly prepped, visibly even, and radiant.

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