June 22, 2020

Essence vs. Serum : What’s the Difference?

Essence vs. serum: what’s the difference? Skincare routine

Essence vs. serum: what’s the difference? Skincare routineFor almost a year now, I’ve been using a multi-step night time skincare routine.  I’ve shared my love of my current anti-aging regime and one of the most common questions is about the essence product. What is it? How do I use it? And many times: What’s the difference between an essence vs. a serum?

I truly believe having a variety of skincare products will really do wonders for your skin. So adding an essence is a totally do-able step for a better complexion. But it’s also important to know what each product you use does and the benefits it provides. Here’s the info you need…

Essence vs. Serum: What’s the Difference?

Essence vs. serum: what’s the difference? Skincare routine

What is Essence?

Many of us are familiar with toners. Essence is like a toner but with more benefits. Beyond adding a layer of hydration and vital nutrients to your skin, it will also improve your skin’s barrier protection. When your skin barrier is compromised, it’s easy for bacteria, irritants, and pollutants to penetrate.  With that super power, it’s easy to see why essence is a Korean beauty favorite!

What is a serum?

I’m a big serum lover! I’ve shared Reasons Why You Need a Serum in your skincare routine and The Difference Between Serums and Oils.  Both those posts give lots of info on serums. As a refresher, serums are concentrated treatments that deliver a high dose of active ingredients to the skin.

Essence vs. Serum

Essence is more lightweight than a serum. It’s great for all skin types as it helps protect your skin’s barrier. They are typically packaged in larger bottles and are more prevalent in Asian, especially Korean skincare regimens. However, Western countries are picking up on this amazing secret so you’ll definitely be hearing more and more about them.

Serums are more concentrated than essences. Also, when purchasing a serum you should have a specific target in mind: anti-aging, brightening, clarifying, etc.  You will find serums in smaller jars and may even include a dropper.

Now that we know the benefits and differences, on to how to use them in your skin care routine.

How to use essence in your skincare routine

How To Use a Facial Essence

Essence should be used after cleansing your skin. Pat your skin dry with a cloth towel so that it’s not wet but still a little damp.  Take your essence and pour a small amount {about the size of a quarter} into the palm of your hand. Unlike toners, I would recommend against a cotton pad here. You want all the goodness going straight to your pores. Then gently pat on your face, neck, and décolletage.

You can use an essence everyday day and night, seven days a week. For my skincare routine, I typically use it only at night. Mainly because the mornings are more of a rush and night is when I want to take the time to unwind and really do some self care.

How to use essence, beautycounter Countertime regime

Essence I recommend:

+ Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence: this is the one I use! It has a milky texture and includes a safe, plant derived retinol complex.

+ Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Essence: Another clean essence that will easily become an essential step in your skincare routine.

How to use essence, beautycounter Countertime regime

How to Use a Serum

As with all skincare routines, start from thinner to thickest.

Cleanser, essence, serum, eye creams, moisturizer, oils.

Beautycounter Countertime skincare routine

After my essence is applied, I gently pat on my serum all over my face. Right now, I’ve been using a Vitamin C serum in the morning and anti-aging in the evening. You can use the same serums for AM and PM as well, if you like. As an extra treat, I like to then use a rose quartz roller to really pack in the products.




Serums I recommend:

+ Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum : This is my anti-aging serum. It’s packed with peptides-the building blocks of collagen- to help firm and reduce wrinkles and fine lines

+ All Bright Vitamin C Serum : I just starting using this new product!! It has a high dose of Vitamin C to brighten dull skin. Vitamin C also targets discoloration. Another benefit – it contains turmeric, an antioxidant superstar. 

+Biossance Squalene + Phyto Retinol Serum: This is a great clean serum that I included in my Sephora Must Haves Post. It contains bakuchiol a natural and safe retinol alternative.

+ Countermatch Intense Moisturizer Serum: Like the name suggests, it will really hydrate your skin. I started using this before Countertime and I hit 40.

+ Mario Badescu Peptide Renewal Serum: This is a great product and one of the first serums I ever used.

Beautycounter essence vs. serum


12 Essences to Consider for your Beauty Routine

what is essence, the best essence, elemis, Korean skincare, skincare routine, anti-aging skincare, k-skincare, how to use essence, chanel skincare, la mer skincare, la prarie skincare

Shop Here




I hope that you’ll consider adding essence to your skin care routine! If you have any more questions about it, please let me know. I love sharing these beauty tips with you!





Essence vs serum, Korean skincare routine
What is essence? How to add essence to your skincare routine.
Beautycounter countertime essence review
Essence vs. serum, the difference between skincare products
How to use essence. Is essence better than toner?
Shop Serums and Essence




Previous / Next

Leave a comment