A wise man once said, “moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” And you know what, folks? He was certainly on to something. In the world of skin care — and more specifically, Korean skin care — the best essences are highly-concentrated treatments with a water-to-serum-like consistency that are nestled somewhere in between your cleansing and moisturizing steps.

This is because essences contain impressively high doses of active ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, fermented ingredients (e.g. yeast and rice), and gentle doses of skin-softening, exfoliating acids meant to intensely nourish the skin post-cleanse and prep it for any oils, ampoules, or serums that should come after. “An essence is ideal for those who want to really drive moisture into the skin,” Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Yale University, previously told Allure.

The best part? The lightweight and layerable textures of these formulas feel so incredibly relaxing as it’s patted and quickly absorbed into the skin. Cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson previously told Allure that you won’t find any waxes and emollients in essences so they don’t clog pores, or feel heavy or greasy. Essentially, think of them as a lighter, non-tacky, and pilling-free version of a serum or cream. As a result, all skin types can benefit from an essence in their routines — whether you’re looking to nourish dry skin, hydrate oily skin, or improve elasticity.

Don’t believe the hype? Let me ask you this: Have you heard of “glass skin?” Face essences are a key step in attaining plump, clear skin, making them a highly valuable addition to any skin-care routine. Here, we run through 17 of our favorite essences that’ll lead to a happier and healthier complexion and skin barrier.

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