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Why Your Skincare Routine Should Include a Facial Essence

Take the plunge with this next-gen skin treatment.

Attention, skincare enthusiasts! There's a new way to get your complexion looking dewier, plumper and more hydrated—and it comes not in a cream but in liquid form.

Wait. Liquid? How can that even be moisturizing?

Oh, but it is! 

Today, I want to introduce you to "essences," also known as "cosmetic waters"—a.k.a. the hot, new skincare category that's making waves in North America by way of Asia. (Waves. Get it?)

Biotherm's new Life Plankton Essence Fundamental Skin Treatment is the one I've been using lately:

New Biotherm Life Plankton Essence Fundamental Skin Treatment.

So. What, exactly, is an essence?

Think of them as more watery versions of serums. As I explained here, a serum is a topical treatment that efficiently delivers active ingredients such as vitamins, antioxidants and moisturizing agents into the skin. Because serums provide a more stable environment than a moisturizer or a lotion, they typically contain a higher percentage of actives—which means better, faster results!

And essences act the same way. But just because they're more watery than serums, that doesn't mean they're watered-down. In fact, many of them are even MORE concentrated and hydrating than serums.

Take Biotherm Life Plankton Essence, for example. (Side note: How gorge is its Ombré blue bottle?!)

Biotherm Life Plankton Essence comes in this blue glass bottle.

Thermal plankton has long been the starring ingredient in Biotherm formulations, ever since the brand made its debut in 1952 (!!). 

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It took their scientists 60 years to figure out how to incorporate the highest-ever concentration of plankton—a whopping five percent!—into a skincare formula. 

And the result, my friends, is new Life Plankton Essence. What couldn't be done in a regular cream has been made possible in this new, liquid, essence format.

You might be wondering, what's so great about plankton? Sourced from the hot springs in the French Pyrenees, the one they used here contains 35 skin-supporting nutrients, and has been shown to accelerate cellular renewal, soothe redness and protect from external aggressors.

To harness the benefits of an essence, you should apply it after cleansing and before any other skincare products or makeup. Here's how the Biotherm one is dispensed:

Biotherm's Life Plankton Essence dispenses in small drops.

It comes out in small drops, so you don't have to worry about pouring out too much. I found three to five drops was enough to cover my whole face; simply pour them on the palm of your hand and then lightly spread around your face. (You don't need to use a cotton pad to apply an essence—fingertips are just fine!)

On the skin, an essence feels just like you're massaging a bit of water over your face. It's incredibly refreshing. If you hate how moisturizers can feel too heavy and oily, then you will love this!

Check it out on my fingers—totally liquid and colourless:

The watery texture of Biotherm's Life Plankton Essence.

The cool part is you can expect absorption within a matter of seconds, without any stickiness or greasiness. And yet... your skin is immediately very hydrated, very smooth and very soft. Think: that slightly dewy (but not shiny) texture that we're all coveting these days. It's kind of amazing, really, when you consider how the stuff just looks like plain water!

After you apply an essence, you can keep layering if you like, adding a serum and/or a moisturizer, eye cream, sunscreen and then makeup. In the warmer weather, I've found the essence alone to be sufficiently moisturizing for my combo skin, and Biotherm's Life Plankton Essence works just beautifully under makeup—it doesn't cause any pilling at all.

Oh, and here's the clincher! In clinical trials, after eight days of use, skin that was treated with Life Plankton Essence was perceived as 2.7 years younger on average, with a best case difference of 12.8 years.

Hey, if adding essences to our skincare routines can make us look younger, then I'm all for taking to the waters! Will you be getting on board, too?

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