This Essence Contains an Ingredient That Thrives in Arctic Temps, and Will Make All of Your Winter Skin Care More Hydrating

Photo: Getty Images/Naomi Rahim
During the winter months, we're all looking for that secret skin-care weapon that will magically prevent the cold, dry air from wreaking absolute havoc on our faces. But if you've been dedicated to hydrating hyaluronic acid serums and thick barrier-building creams (which are dermatologists' favorite products for staving off winter skin damage), and are still struggling with dryness and discomfort, it may be time to add an extra step to your routine in the form of an essence.

Essences, which have long been staples in Korean beauty, are liquids that provide a bonus dose of hydration to the skin. They're designed to be used after cleansing and before your active treatments, and work double-time by flooding your skin with moisture and by helping your other hydrating actives penetrate more deeply.

"Essences are great for daily use in your skincare routine because they can penetrate the skin, lock in hydration, and help treat the skin as well as enhance the absorption of subsequent products in your skincare regimen,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City. 

While any essence will help you up the moisture in your skin, there's a new multi-tasker on the market that does that and then some and is perfect for this time of year: Glow Recipe Cloudberry Bright Essence Toner ($38).

All about Glow Recipe’s Cloudberry Bright Essence Toner

What makes Glow Recipe's Cloudberry Bright Essence Toner so winter-skin friendly is its star ingredient—cloudberries. Sourced from the mountains of Scandinavia, this particular plant is accustomed to thriving in cold temps (think: -40 degrees Fahrenheit), and is chock-full of nutrients to help your complexion do the same.

The berry is rich in vitamins C and E (which brighten and moisturize the skin, respectively), two potent antioxidants that defend against environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution. It's also chock-full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which strengthen the skin barrier and lock in moisture.

According to Jessica Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, CDCES, a Nutrition Program Manager at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care in New York, cloudberries also contain magnesium, which is essential for skin elasticity and hydration, and polyphenols, which “play a large role in anti-aging and protection in skin cell damage, with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.” Depending upon the region and the amount of sunlight exposure cloudberries receives, they can be an excellent source of carotenoids, which "benefit the health and appearance of [the] skin and offer protection from environmental pollutants," she adds.

The essence is also formulated with CoQ10, a powerful antioxidant that's found naturally in the skin and declines as we age. Supplementing the ingredient topically supports the production of collagen and elastin, brightens dark spots, evens out skin tone, and reduces visible signs of skin aging caused by sun exposure, says Dr. Engelman. She also adds that its antioxidant properties "fight free radical damage and protect the skin from oxidative damage."

Other key ingredients:

Fermented rice water: Soothe, softens, and brighten skin.

Oat and collagen amino acids: Supports the skin’s natural collagen production and maintains hydration levels. 

Glycerin: A humectant (which draws water into the skin) that helps to moisturize and prevent transepidermal water loss. 

Our review of Glow Recipe Cloudberry Essence Toner

Safe for all skin types, the dermatologist-tested formula is safe to use on even the most sensitive complexions, but the ones who benefit from it the most are those with super-dry skin. 

Well+Good's contributing beauty editor Zoë Weiner has been putting the essence to the test against New York City's winter weather for the past few months, and confirms that it keeps her perpetually-dehydrated skin quenched. "I love that it makes my face look instantly brighter after I put it on, and that it sucks all of my serums and moisturizers deep down into my skin to keep it hydrated throughout the day," she says. "I can really feel the extra moisture it provides, and appreciate the plump, dewy finish it delivers to my complexion."

An essence may not technically be a "must have" in your skin-care routine, but during the colder months, it's a "very, very nice to have," indeed.

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