Toner vs Essence: What's the difference?

Toners and essences can have the same feel and look. They may even contain similar ingredients, and their claimed benefits may sound very similar. This can cause confusion: what is the difference between the two, and what are their functions?

Toners and Essences have a common definition

Because toners and essences aren't regulated terms, each brand can use their own definition. However, the following are the most commonly used definitions:


A formula that balances skin’s natural pH levels (to that optimal ~5.5 pH)


A formula that deeply hydrates skin and prepares the skin for the next skincare steps

Secondary Benefits

This is where things can get a little tricky. Some toners are hydrating, and some essences help to balance the pH of the skin. Toners, on the other hand, are typically used to help skin balance its pH levels, whereas essences are used to hydrate skin — two very different jobs.

Furthermore, some toners and essences may have additional benefits such as exfoliation, brightening, firming, and more.

We recommend reading the ingredient list and benefits to see how your toner and essence can help your skin in other ways.

And, unless the product has a two-in-one benefit, such as balancing your skin's pH levels while also deeply hydrating it, we recommend using both a toner and an essence to boost the results of your skincare routine.

Which order to use Toner and Essence in your routine

In a skincare routine, the order of application would be: Cleanser, Toner, Essence, Serums, Moisturizer, SPF (in the AM)

Bestseller Toner and Essence


  • Some By Mi Aha Bha Pha 30 Days Miracle Toner
  • Always Be Pure Forest Therapy Ultra Calming Toner
  • Iunik Vitamin Hyaluronic Acid Vitalizing Toner
  • Axis-Y Daily Purifying Treatment Toner


  • Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
  • Beauty Of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water

In Conclusion

The combination of these two liquids help keep skin radiant and polished with clarified pores, then hydrated and bouncy with skin prepped for following steps.

We hope this breakdown was helpful! View all products for toner and essence.

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