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Toner Vs Essence Vs Serums

woman with serum

When it comes to skincare, there’s an array of products available, each serving a specific purpose. Among these, toners, essences, and serums are often hailed as the heroes in achieving a flawless complexion. But toners, essence, serums, are they all the same? What sets them apart, and when and how should you incorporate them into your skincare routine? While the uses and differences of these three products may seem confusing for skincare beginners, we are here to help! Let’s delve into the world of toners, essences, and serums to demystify their roles and discover the best way to make them work for your skin.

Images by The Face Shop, Kiehls, and La Roche Posay

The Lowdown on Toners

Toners are a crucial step in any skincare regimen, as they help balance the skin’s pH levels after cleansing. Traditionally, toners were astringent, alcohol-based solutions designed to remove excess oil and tighten pores. However, modern toners have evolved significantly and are now formulated to provide various benefits based on skin type and concerns. They often contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, soothing botanical extracts, or exfoliating agents such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Toners are typically applied using a cotton pad, and gently swiped across the face, leaving the skin refreshed and prepped for the subsequent steps in your routine.

Unlocking the Power of Essences

Essences are a staple in Korean skincare routines and they are like a concentrated elixir for the skin. They contain a high concentration of active ingredients, providing deep hydration and nourishment. Unlike toners, essences have a more lightweight, watery texture, making them ideal for absorption and layering with other products. Applying essences with clean hands or a gentle patting motion onto the skin allows the active ingredients to penetrate deeply and enhance the skin’s moisture levels. Essences are renowned for their ability to improve skin texture, address specific concerns like pigmentation, and promote a radiant complexion.

Serums – Potent Skin Allies

Serums are the power players in the skincare world. They boast a high concentration of active ingredients, specifically formulated to target specific skin concerns. Serums come in various formulations, such as vitamin C serums for brightening, hyaluronic acid serums for intense hydration, and retinol serums for anti-ageing benefits. Due to their potent nature, serums are applied after cleansing and toning, but before moisturising. A small amount of serum is sufficient and gentle, upward motions help in even application. Serums work to penetrate deep within the skin, addressing specific issues and providing visible results.

So, How Do You Use Them All Together?

Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

The key to integrating toners, essences, and serums into your skincare routine is understanding your skin’s unique needs and concerns. Start with a cleansed face and follow these steps:

  1. Toner: After cleansing, apply toner to restore the skin’s pH balance and prep it for the subsequent products.


  1. Essence: Next, pat on a few drops of essence to infuse the skin with intense hydration and targeted active ingredients.


  1. Serum: Apply a serum that addresses your specific skin concerns. Allow it to absorb fully before moving to the next step.


  1. Moisturiser: Lock in all the goodness with a suitable moisturiser that complements your skin type, providing nourishment and sealing in moisture.


  1. Sunscreen (Daytime): In the morning, always finish with sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Toners, essences, and serums each play a vital role in elevating your skincare routine, catering to different aspects of skin health. By incorporating these products thoughtfully into your regimen, you can achieve glowing, healthy, and radiant skin. Embrace this skincare journey, experimenting with various products to find the perfect balance for your skin’s needs and unleash the full potential of toners, essences, and serums for a beautiful complexion.

Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

Unveil your skin glow and discover healthy skin with Halley Medical Aesthetics Brilliance skincare system formulated by Dr. Terence Tan. This skincare regimen merges simplicity and effectiveness, offering physician-grade skincare to nourish and invigorate your skin. 


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