Inside Japanese Beauty Products: What They Do and Why You Need Them

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about Asian beauty products lately, but it’s hard to get keep everything you’ve heard straight. The standard order of operations in your beauty routine should be to cleanse and tone, and then apply an essence and serum. There’s bound to be some head-scratching around what an essence is. Is it different than a face toner? Do I still need a serum? We’re here to set the record straight with your beauty 4-1-1 guide.


OK, so what does a face toner do and why do I need it if I just washed my face? Cleansing your face can only get off so much gunk. Skin toner is specifically designed to be light and watery, so it can be easily absorbed. Toners also control any dirt and oil that sits deep down in your pores. And, as an added benefit, a toner can actually help shrink the size of your pores, too!


Popular in Japan and across Korean Beauty (or K Beauty) trends, essences are the new big trend stateside. So, what does an essence do? With a similar texture to the toner, this water-like product is frequently hailed as miracle water. Essences are packed with vitamins and minerals in an easily absorbable way. Skin feels immediately nourished and, often, looks brighter! The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is on nearly every must-have essence list! This best-seller hydrates the face to help prevent dryness and moderate the skin surface renewal cycle. Your skin will look more luminous within just a few weeks of usage.

  • SK-II Facial Treatment Essence with SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion and SK-II GenOptics Aura Essence


Applying a serum is the next step after applying an essence. While essences help renew the skin overall, serums work to target unique skin care concerns. There are serums that address wrinkles, while others address dark spots, and still more that address dryness. You get the idea. Whatever you worry about, there’s a serum for you. Serums are also typically lightweight and hydrating.

SK-II offers the GenOptics Aura Essence serum, which is perfectly formulated to reduce the look of spots for a lighter glow, and the R.N.A. POWER Essence serum, which minimizes the appearance of pores. Both products contain the brand’s Holy Grail, Pitera™, which has a bevy of anti-aging benefits.

While toners, essences and serums each have a different purpose for your skin, they can work together to deliver brilliant results. Wondering what the perfect Asian beauty regimen looks like? We have all the details on the intense ritual.