Hydrating serums battle, part 2: The best essences of the East! - twindly beauty blog
The best hydrating essences of the East! 2. round of our battle of best hydrating serums vs essences. Feat. essences from cosrx, Hada Labo & Clinique.
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best hydrating essences

Hydrating serums battle, part 2: The best essences of the East!

In the second part of our little comparison of six hydrating skincare products (Part 1), we’ll have a look at the Asian contestants – three hydrating essences from Hada Labo, Cosrx and Clinique. Clinique? Yup. First manufactured solely for Asia, this little gem is now also available in the US. But the question is: Are they all any good in hydrating that winter-battered skin of yours?! Have a look at the best hydrating essences I’ve found!

The East

Have a look at Part 1 (here) to find out more about the Western hydrating serums I talked about, and the differences between serums and essences. Essences, far from being a new intimidating step in your skincare routine, are actually easy to incorporate. Use them directly after toner and pat them gently into the skin. Essences are usually used for a hydrating boost before you use your active ingredients/moisturiser. But then, there’re of course also brightening and firming ones, although the hydrating ones are the most common. And these are the ones we’ll have a look at. We’ll look mainly at the ingredients – price, performace and texture will follow in Friday’s big comparison post of all six!

best hydrating essences

You’ll see that Clinique’s essence lotion is missing in the pics – I used it up a while ago and binned the bottle (doh!).

Clinique even better essence lotion

Let’s start with the Westernized product: Clinique even better essence lotion (very dry to try combination skin). The exception to the rule mentioned above, Clinique chucked (and that’s very typical of Estée Lauder brands in general) everything and their kitchen sink into the formula. Plant extracts galore, caffeine, squalane, hyaluronic acid and also saccharomyces ferment filtrate “which activates skin’s moisture retention power for a luminous glow”. Different to the cosrx essence below, this one doesn’t rely on the fermented yeast extract as main ingredient. Instead, we have a lot of humectants and antioxidants, so the ‘essence lotion’ will be hydrating, but that’s not its primary aim.

This is rather supposed to be an anti-aging ‘lotion’ that also hydrates. (Which is not a bad thing.)

Hada Labo premium essence review

The Gokujyun Premium Lotion from Hada Labo – full of different forms of Hyaluronic Acid.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion

The Gokujyun Premium Lotion from Hada Labo, a Japanese company, is the absolute opposite of that. It takes its star ingredient (hyaluronic acid) and chucks that into the formula in five different molecular forms. (Fiddy has the exact ingredient list here.) This is good because different sized molecules can penetrate different layers of skin. Molecules will remain in the skin for different amounts of time before they’ll disintegrate. In short, instead of only one type of hyaluronic acid that’ll penetrate the skin only that deep and will disintegrate after an x amount of time, you’ll get different types of molecules. They’ll play around in different layers of your skin, binding water to them and hydrating your tissue, and disintegrating in different amounts of time.

Basically a one-trick-pony, but a good one. If you need hydration, lots of it, and your skin loves hyaluronic acid, there’s nothing better. (Btw, the name? Don’t get confused about the term lotion. It’s an essence. But however you call it – it’s great for hydrating skin.)

cosrx Galactomyces brightening essence review

My favourite of all three: cosrx Galactomyces essence

cosrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence

cosrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence (soon to be renamed because of the unfortunate term ‘whitening’…) has only half a dozen ingredients. All of them are great. The main ingredient is fermented yeast extract (the Galactomyces, also in SK-II’s famous line), and that’s a whopping 95% of the stuff. Then we have Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and on top of that, calming Panthenol and Allantoin.

Ingredient-wise, if you like fermented ingredients in your skincare, it won’t get better than this. What can I say? I’m a fan. (I wrote about it here before.) I’ve to say, though, that in giving hydration, this takes only the second place after Hada Labo’s Premium Lotion.



In Friday’s thrilling finale, we’ll pitch all six contestants against each other! Price, performance, texture – all will be tested. Who’ll emerge the winner? Stay tuned!!!


Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly’s PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

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