Choosing the right products for combination skin can be tough. While you want to deeply hydrate the parts of your face that are dry, you also want to keep the oily parts like the T-zone from looking greasy. The best Korean essences for combination skin will balance your skin and keep you glowing but never shiny.
Why you’ll want it: The main goal of an essence is hydration, and the liquid textures make them perfect for sinking into the skin without leaving a film on top. Layering is one of the best ways to keep combination skin balanced, and a great essence will also help your other products work better.
What to look for: Beyond hydrating, the best essences can fight a variety of skin concerns like texture, redness, or acne with well-researched hero ingredients like moisturizing hyaluronic acid, soothing green tea, and pore-minimizing and brightening niacinamide.
How to use it: After cleansing (and toner, if you choose), pour a small amount of essence into your palm or onto a cotton pad and smooth it across your face. Lightly patting it in is a popular technique. Next, follow it up with the serums and moisturizers you’d normally use.
Western brands have seen how effective these bottles are and have started adding essences to their skin-care lineups, but Korean ones still offer the unbeatable mix of cutting-edge technology and reasonable prices.
Whether your skin is sensitive, acne-prone, or could just be evened out, one of the best Korean essences for combination skin will help balance it. Shop them here on Amazon, where you’ll find some of the best prices, too.
1. The Cult-Favorite Korean Essence For Combination Skin
Missha Time Revolution The First Intensive Moist Treatment Essence, 150 Milliliter
This gold-standard, best-selling essence has more than 90 percent fermented ingredients, a cornerstone of Korean skin care, to plump skin, smooth out texture, and reduce redness. It is deeply hydrating but the thin consistency makes sure it still soaks into the skin and doesn’t sit on top or feel sticky.
"It preps my skin so well," says one reviewer who notes that "if the prepping’s not done right, everything that follows will reflect it." Long touted as a dupe for SK-II’s very expensive essence, the frosted glass bottle still feels luxurious, even if you’re paying a fraction of the price.
2. The Best Essence For Acne-Prone Skin
CosRx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, 100 Milliliter
The reviews for CosRx’s snail essence are loud and clear. "Amazing. Have only used for two weeks, and acne scars fading and you can’t see my pores," one reviewer says. "This is so good! It was able to heal my acne after 3 days," says another.
And because it both helps prevent acne and also diminishes the scars acne can leave behind, it’s a great choice for both regularly occurring breakouts and the more sporadic ones. The hero ingredient is the 96 percent cruelty-free snail secretion filtrate which naturally contains smoothing glycoproteins, moisturizing hyaluronic acid, and exfoliating glycolic acid.
3. The Best Korean Essence To Smooth Texture
Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence, 270 Milliliter
Adenosine is a scientifically proven ingredient ideal for those tackling texture and anyone who could use a dose of smoothing and plumping. Mineral-rich thermal water is the base while fermented ingredients, brightening niacinamide, and hydrating glycerin turn it into a true multitasker.
"I was desperate for something that would reduce drastically all the bumps and, well, texture, on my face," says one customer about this essence formula free of parabens, artificial fragrance, and drying denatured alcohol. "Anyway, it’s so much better than it was before I began using this product." While this pick is twice as much as the first two on this list, the bottle is also almost double the size.
4. The Best Essence To Moisturize And Plump Skin
SkinFood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Essence, 50 Milliliter
The formula of this bee-derived essence has been improved with even more active ingredients to hydrate, strengthen, and tone. With antiseptic qualities, it also helps with acne and breakouts. It’s an especially good choice for those with dry-leaning combo skin because of how hydrating it is.
"It really gives your skin plenty of moisture," says one reviewer. "I love the plumpness my skin has after applying it. It didn’t break me out and I have acne-prone combination skin." A little of this gel-like essence goes a long way — and keeps it from feeling sticky on the skin.
5. The Best Essence To Calm Redness
Tosowoong Green Tea Essence, 60 Milliliter
Those experiencing redness or irritation should reach for this antioxidant-rich essence packed with soothing green tea, centella asiatica extract, and allantoin.
"I gave this a try and am very pleased with the results! It’s [a] deeply hydrating and soothing first essence," says one reviewer. "Very calming and brightening to skin," says another customer who adds: "It’s been about 6 months since buying it, and I’m on my second bottle and have one as a backup." The light gel-like texture is easily absorbed making it a moisturizing pick that won’t make oily patches greasy or sticky. Niacinamide, fruit extracts, and vitamin E help the skin glow.
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