Floating Water

Hydration Education: Essence vs Toner

What is an Essence

An essence is the bridge between cleansing and moisturizing. An essence acts as the first layer of hydration in your skincare routine, by “softening” the skin through hydration. Hydrated skin absorbs skincare products more easily and helps draw the benefits deeper into the skin.

A bit of history

Developed in East Asia, essences were popularized by Japanese geishas who used a combination of algae, rice, and green tea extracts to create a highly moisturizing liquid that could be applied to help improve hydration.

The first mass-market essence was sold in Japan in the late 1800s, eventually making its way into American and French markets in the 1960s.
Since then, essences have become a crucial step in helping hydrate the skin, spreading in popularity around the globe.


What is a Toner

A toner is an extension of the cleansing step of your skincare routine.
  • Helps remove impurities left behind from cleansing and lightly exfoliates the skin.
  • Some, but not all, can aid in adjusting skin’s pH levels.
  • Commonly made with alcohol, toners are known for their “cooling” sensation, which is the result of removing oils from the skin during the cleansing process.

Toners are commonly applied with a cotton pad, instead of your hands, and it is recommended that a hydrating moisturizer be used after toning to restore any moisture that was lost. For those with normal or dry skin, toners are not recommended as the process may be too drying, stripping skin of its natural oils.

We specialize in products for normal to dry and sensitive dry skin, and have consequently focused our formulas on those that hydrate.


Toner vs. Essence

Toner vs. Essence Explained

Both Toner and Essence are used after cleansing. Toner removes any impurities leftover from cleansing, while Essence preps skin for the rest of your skincare routine. Toner balances skin’s pH when the imbalance is caused by stressed skin. Essence acts as the first layer of hydration in your skincare routine. Essence is applicable for any skin type, while Toner is not suited for normal or dry skin types. Toners are known to contain alcohol, while our Essence is free of parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, alcohol, and more. 


To get the best benefit from your essence, we recommend the following:
How to Use Essence Demonstration GIF

• After cleansing, dispense a dime-sized amount of essence into the palm of your hand 

• Gently press essence onto the skin of face and neck; pat to dry

• Follow with serum and moisturizer 



Why We Recommend Essence:

At H2O+, we’re all about hydration. Here are some of the benefits of an essence and why we recommend it for our normal to dry, sensitive, or dry skin customers.


Replenish Moisture

When you wash your face, the outer layer of your skin loses some of its moisture and becomes more delicate.
Designed to replenish the moisture lost from cleansing, essences are formulated with 70%–80% water-based ingredients, so they can sufficiently rehydrate your skin after cleansing


Deliver Water-Soluble Nourishment

Essences contain water-soluble, nourishing ingredients, allowing them to absorb quickly and efficiently into the skin.


Enhance the Effects of Your Skincare Routine

By softening the outer layer of skin and adding water-based hydration with an essence, skin can absorb serums and creams more efficiently. If you think of your skin like a sponge, a dry sponge does not absorb as easily as a damp sponge. Similarly, your skin cannot absorb creams or oils as well when it is dehydrated. By using an essence to pre-hydrate and “fill” the skin with moisture, the skin can absorb serums, oils, and creams more effectively.

Simply put, an essence helps to prep skin, so it can fully absorb the benefits of the rest of your skincare routine. The order in which you apply your skincare steps makes a difference. We recommend using an essence after cleansing and before your serum, followed by your moisturizer and SPF. Once you try it you’ll realize how essential an essence truly is!