A woman applying essence to her face.

The Differences Between Essence and Serum

Essence vs Serum

Have you ever wondered what the main difference is between essence and serum? Some women prefer a skincare serum, while others swear by essence. Others do not know the difference and think they are the same products.

Either way, we will explain the difference between these products and will help you incorporate the perfect product for your skincare routine. Keep on reading and find out the difference between essence and serum.

What is Essence?

An essence is a skincare product that you apply by adding a few drops on top of your skin. This product is actually used after you cleanse your face thoroughly. This is a step you do right after toning your skin. An essence will help you prepare and nourish your skin. It is one of the essential steps in Korean Skincare. Not too long ago, it also became huge in the U.S.

An essence helps hydrate your skin and helps your cells regenerate on their own. This product sinks into the skin but also pulls out all of your previously applied products.

What is Serum?

A serum is a lot thicker and has a gooey texture. It is quite powerful and nourishing on its own. Using serum regularly can help combat deep lines and wrinkles, as well as hyper-pigmentation and acne. Serums are often a lot heavier in texture and they fight serious skin complications. They are also used by women who have problematic or mature skin. Normally, younger women or teens would not need a serum in their skincare routine.

Top Three Major Differences


Visibly, you can tell that their texture is a lot different. An essence is pretty watery and reminds people of toner, while a serum is thick like gel. You will understand this difference even when you run the products through your fingers and definitely when you apply them on top of your skin.

Used for Different age Groups

An essence is a must for younger women (usually) since it can do wonders for more youthful skin. A serum, on the other hand, is often used by mature women and those who need to make a significant change to their skin texture fast.

Different Ingredients

An essence is often filled with aloe vera, water, fruits and natural soft ingredients. Serums will have some glycerin, glycol, seed oils, as well as many different extracts.

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How to Use Essence

You should apply your essence first, before your serum. Apply this product right after you use a toner. You can apply just a bit of it onto your palm and then dab the product into the skin with your ring finger. You can also pick it up with a cotton pad and make slow tapping, pressing motions.

Usually, dermatologists recommend you use an essence if you are prone to irritation or breakouts that some moisturizers and lotions may give you. If you need hydration and you hate creams – you can use an essence.
You can apply an essence twice a day since it is not too harsh on your skin, nor filled with many chemicals.

How to Apply Serum

Apply your serum on top after you have cleansed your skin, applied your moisturizer and applied your essence. If you are not using an essence, you can use the serum on its own. However, make sure you have the right serum for your skin type. Plenty of these serums can combat and help out with different skin complications. Some are filled with hyaluronic acid serum – which is a important if you have dry skin. Others serums have vitamin C that can help with hyper-pigmentation. Always make sure you purchase and use a serum that was recommended to you and that is ideal for your skin type.
Even though these products have many great effects, make sure to always apply a small amount of serum. It is very thick and you will not need to use it a lot. Usually, you should use a serum only at night. Since it is a lot thicker and heavier, it will take way more time for it to soak in. This is why it is crucial to leave it overnight.

Who Should Use Essence? Who Should Use Serum?

Both of these will give out different results and are used for various purposes. Usually, you should apply an essence if you have dry skin and minor imperfections. On the other hand, a serum will help out with many different skin issues and is popularly used by women with mature skin and discoloration. You can use both if your dermatologist recommends you to or if you feel like your skin is in bad shape. Either way, there is no right or wrong, just different purposes and different ways of using a product.