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Essential Skincare Products in Your Vanity Box


Do you know the secret to beautiful, flawless, and ageless skin?  Hydration! With so many skincare products with unclear benefits, jumbled with confusing marketing jargon, choosing the right skincare products can seem overwhelming. We’ll share which beauty products you’ll want in your vanity box to help hydrate your skin.  Much like life, there’s no such a thing as “one-size fits all” or a single step in your skincare routine that magically results in beautiful skin.

Selecting products that work for you will depend upon your skin type, age, complexion, skincare concern, and your environment. There really are a wide array of products, but here are staples we recommend for your vanity box:  toners, serums, essences, and ampoules. But while they might serve similar purposes in your skincare routine, play similar roles, or have much the same consistencies, they’re not the same. These products have the function of adding “layers” of active ingredients to hydrate and help with skincare concerns.

Understanding the different types of skincare products that hydrate your skin:

Facial Toners: Applying toner is one of those steps that we usually forget or want to skip, but it’s beneficial foundation to great skin. Toner is used after cleansing to remove any remaining residue from the skin, exfoliating dead skin cells, restoring the skin’s pH balance, and providing a soothing effect. Most toners contain antioxidants, hydrating ingredients, and other beneficial additives, preparing the skin for the application of essences and or serums. Toners are generally liquid and can be applied in two ways:  using a cotton pad and rubbing it all over the face to remove impurities or spritzing it on your skin, like a facial mist, helping to alleviate temporary redness.

General benefits of using a toner – depending on their ingredients, which vary from brand to brand -

  • Help preparing the skin for the rest of the skincare routine
  • Hydrates the surface of the skin
  • Reduces the appearance of pores
  • Exfoliates dust, dead cells, oil and other residue
  • Provides a calming effect and visibly refreshes the skin
  • Helps with the pH balance of skin

Facial Essences:  Skin essences are lighter in weight, less concentrated than serums, and applied after a toner to add another layer of hydration, which is especially needed when your skin is dehydrated. They have similar benefits to a serum, meaning that its consistency will penetrate the skin more deeply, providing adding benefits like brightening and revitalizing tired or dull skin. Due to its consistency, it is recommended to apply it with your hands directly onto your face and neck and gently tap the areas to facilitate absorption. Depending on your skincare needs, you can apply it before a serum or a moisturizer.

General benefits of using an essence - depending on their ingredients, which vary from brand to brand -

  • Adds moisture to the skin from deep within
  • Rehydrates the skin cells with a water- or gel-like consistency
  • Due to their lightweight consistency, sensitive skin is less prone to redness and or irritation
  • Protects the skin’s barrier
  • Revitalizes tired or dull skin
  • Provides a soothing, calming effect
  • Provides extra hydration, priming the face even better for makeup

Facial Serums: Serums contain a combination of active ingredients such as vitamins and hyaluronic acid, which are key to addressing specific skin issues such as dryness, dark spots, fine lines, discoloration, dullness, and wrinkles. These active ingredients are usually more concentrated than in moisturizing creams or essences. Serums are a bit thicker in consistency and more effective in hydrating the skin as they add an extra moisturizing layer to the skin. Generally, serums are water-based with a near gel-like consistency. However, newer, oil-based serums are gaining momentum. They come in smaller bottles than toners or essences and have droppers to dispense the product. Apply with your fingers directly into your face and pat it using circular movements to promote further absorption. Best applied after a facial essence and before a moisturizer.

General benefits of using a serum - depending on their ingredients, which vary from brand to brand -

  • Contains concentrated active ingredients to address specific skincare concerns. 
  • Penetrates deep in the skin, taking less time to see visible results
  • Improves skin’s complexion, reducing signs of fatigue
  • Smooths surface of the face
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Helps the skin to retain moisture
  • Nourishes protects, and hydrates skin

Ampoules: Face Ampoules are less known than Serums or Face Essences. In short, an ampoule is a potent concentration of a select ingredient meant to use for a short period as a booster. It is more powerful than a serum with similar consistency. Depending on the active ingredient, ampoules can target specific concerns bringing anti-aging skin benefits and protecting skin from external aggressors like pollution or toxins. Ampoules come in smaller bottles with droppers. Generally apply once or twice a week, using your fingers before the essence or the serum, and right after a toner. Your face will benefit immediately from the super-concentrated ingredients.

General benefits of using an ampoule - depending on their ingredients, which vary from brand to brand -

  • Contains highly concentrated active ingredients to address specific skincare concerns 
  • Deeply moisturizes dry skin
  • Used to tackle skincare crisis
  • Repairs the skin
  • Defends and brightens the skin
  • Rapid results due to potent ingredients

Tips to get the most out of your skincare products

  • Identify what your skin needs and choose products with ingredients that fit your skin’s issue(s). Don't get caught up in whether it's a toner, serum or essence.
  • Choose a texture that suits your skin type and what feels good on your skin. Try out different consistencies to see what you like and which ones your skin reacts to positively. Don't worry about following some pre-conceived notion of what your skincare routine should look like. It will most likely evolve, depending upon what your skin needs.
  • Note whether your skin responds better to concentrated or more watery (thicker vs lighter) skincare products for your morning and nighttime routines. It’s normal for your nighttime products to be more concentrated.
  • As a guide, no matter which or how many skincare products you use, apply the most watery or liquid product first and the thickest and richest one last.

What about moisturizers you ask? Absolutely, moisturizers are an essential part of your skincare hydration process. We’re all most familiar with facial moisturizers and this page provides a more in-depth look at the other skincare products that work in concert with moisturizers.

While we’re arming you with information, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what skincare regimen works for not only your skin, but the amount of time you’re willing to spend on it. Most importantly, have fun testing products out and let skincare health bring you joy!