Wednesday 2 June 2021

I gave up toners and essences for a month. Should you?

**********This post contains both gifted and non-gifted items. Gifted mentions may also be present. All links used are affiliate.********** 

Everyone may tell you otherwise, but adding an ultra hydrating step into your routine, may change your skin forever. Everyone’s skin is different but I have dealt with dryness and dehydration my whole life, so I decided to test this theory by removing it from my routine for 30 days. 

My story

Since discovering K-Beauty essences (Cosrx & Klairs being my firsts whereas I’m From Fig - review - has stolen my heart forever!!) I was sold. I always struggled with keeping my skin hydrated, and at the time I was on a cocktail of strong painkillers to manage chronic pain, so my skin resembled Sahara desert after a year with not a drop of water. Gone were the days of itching skin, painful tightness and waking up looking dull and ashy. I’ve tried many methods of application and depending on the formula I was using at a time I would layer at least twice, and on ‘sick days’ I went in hard with the Korean 7 skin method to ensure I kept skin in tip top condition even if I had a fever.

Skincare world can be pretty judgemental, let’s just look at all these ‘reaction’ videos being uploaded by skincare gurus to know, it’s not nice to find oneself at the end of a critic who thinks they know what’s best for you. You should have seen the DM’s I received after posting one of my most popular posts ‘This non-essential skincare step will change your life forever’ where I first openly talked about my crazy addiction to toners and essences. Some agreed, some disagreed and some trolled. Look, I can take it, but it was quite an experience nevertheless. While it didn’t stop me posting about my love for toners and essences, it also made me think. What if it’s just a placebo effect and they are actually right? Being on opposite side of 90% of experts should make you question, so I decided to put it to test.

I’m always up to be proven wrong. It may sting a little since I’m such a overachieving know-it-all, but hey, if they’re right, I’ll put my hands up. Sure, I put my project aside for ages, as I simply wasn’t ready to give up my favourites, but recently my skin was acting up and I was stripping down on the routine anyway, so there was no better time than to get my skin to a decent condition and test my theory.

My skin

For reference, I have combination skin, normal T-zone and super dry cheeks in winter, and oily T-zone with dry to super dry cheeks in summer. I also have mild rosacea, that flares up due to dehydration, stress and touch. I break out around the time of the month, due to hormonal imbalance I've been battling for years. I have enlarges pores around the nose with some blackheads, and rather textured chin with blocked pores in the area. I'm also prone to dehydration and inflammation. Maskne can be an issue and caused increased sensitivity and some breakouts around jawline.

Day 1

I tend to start everything on a Monday, so I was feeling pretty darn blue having to put aside my essences. I still had my hydrating serums after all, it can’t be that bad, surely? Other than my personal feelings on the matter, I didn’t really feel I was missing the extra steps. I still use a mist after cleansing as I prefer applying serums on a wet skin, but I opted for the most basic not overly hydrating formulas not to affect my study.

Day 8

My skin was doing fine. But I did notice a bit of tightness on my cheeks, which are very dry so it’s not unusual. I must admit, I enjoyed a more streamlined routine. I was working long hours, so a few extra minutes in bed in the morning and jumping into bed earlier at night wasn’t that bad. I still missed having that juicy skin of course, but it was certainly not bad.

Day 14

2 weeks in and I wasn’t having the best time with my skin. I was getting quite oily in my t-zone and started experiencing breakouts on the cheeks, jawline and above the lips. At the time I didn’t clocked that it may be my skin getting dehydrated and substituting lack of hydration with extra production of sebum. Pores became more noticeable too and I just wasn’t happy. At this time i reintroduced BHA and upped Niacinamide to try and combat some of that. My cheeks were also getting quite dry and rosacea flare ups starting showing up too. I was a bit of a mess.

Day 21

After a week or so, the breakouts started to heal, though some trapped oil was still there. You could feel it under the skin, but the spots were no longer as painful as the week before. My skin was visibly dehydrated, I was feeling tight straight after cleansing and my t-zone was definitely more shiny. Pores were no longer a problem thanks to Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid, but the skin wasn’t quite what I was used to. I started to feel like it must be the lack of extra hydration steps that was affecting it, but I couldn’t be sure. Not without reintroducing them into my routine.

Day 30

Sitting down to do my evening routine on the last day of my test, I was relieved. I had made up my mind about essences - but now it was the time to truly test my theory. I looked at my skin that day and was quite angry with myself, almost as angry as my dry cheeks were. Rosacea flare ups become a ‘few times a day’ occurrence. My cheeks felt tight and I for the past week, I ended up reapplying moisturiser during the day to try and placate my skin. T-zone was a nightmare - I was looking like I applied highlighter all over. I was still unsure so I decided to continue the test for a week or so, but this time by reintroducing my favourite of them all - I’m From Fig Boosting Essence the next day.

Back on track

I’ve started using the Essence the very next morning and continued twice daily (1-2 layers) both morning and evening. I also reintroduced another fave: Sioris Time is Running Out Mist during the day. These two would be my go to for a while so I thought it’s best to go back to what I know, and truly test them powers. After all, my skin could have been struggling and it might have not had anything to do with testing my theory. I noticed an improvement almost instantly, even on day 2 my cheeks no longer felt super tight and I was less shiny in the t-zone. The rosacea was still there on day 5 but it no longer hit me multiple times a day, and my skin just looked better. It felt bouncier, and looked juicy again. The itchiness that plagued me over the previous couple of weeks was gone too. I felt like other products started to sink in a bit quicker. On day 7 I finally made up my mind. 

To summarise

While essences and toners may not be an essential step for many, they proven themselves to be indispensable for my skin. My combo to dry skin feels better when using an Essence, and after a few more weeks of religious use, I was able to start skipping either AM or PM depending what actives I was using. Now I stick to either morning or night, but will add it if I’m feeling particularly dry, or I’m experiencing redness. My rosacea never really goes away, but now I get flare ups once or twice a week and not 10x every day. Overly oily t-zone is also not a problem anymore since I’ve also stuck with BHA and Niacinamide. Overall, 2 months after starting the rest, me and my skin are finally on better terms.


It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. For one I like to prove myself right, and secondly - I know now how dependant my skin is on the extra hydration layers. I’m giving it another week and will be testing another theory, this time not my own, but watch this space, as it’s quite controversial too.

Essences, mists & toners to try now:

Klairs Fundamental Mist | press sample | £26 for 125ml 

Based on green tea supported with cucumber, rice, okra & kelp extracts, and trehalose to deeply hydrate, refresh, calm, revitalise and lock in the moisture. This is dry to dehydrated skin must have. Oily skin may enjoy to add this as a last step in the routine instead, as Jorge keeps telling me.

I’m From Fig Boosting Essence | press sample | £31.90 for 150ml | review

Formulated with fig extract, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, soybean extract and betaine salicylate to gently exfoliate, nourish and deeply hydrate while keeping redness and sensitivity at bay. This is a truly luxurious formula with a faint scent of fig, perfect if you’re into skincare sensory experience. Great all around, even mature skin may find the results inspiring!

Thank You Farmer Rice Pure Essential Toner | press sample | £29 for 200ml

Not shouted about enough, this is a more creamy milky lotion essence, perfect if I’m From

Rice toner wasn’t quite thick enough for you. Formula boasts quite a powerhouse to help clarify congested skin while keeping it deeply hydrated, bright and radiant. Think Centella Asiatica, Niacinamide, Lotus Flower and Fig Fruit  Extracts to keep your skin in check!

Sioris Time is Running Out Mist | press sample | £17 for 100ml

This duo-phased formula will always remind me of my fave Omorovicza Magic Moisture - fine but ultra moisturising formula that just keeps on giving. Perfect for dry to combo skin, again oily could benefit from it perhaps in later stage in the routine. I use it to refresh and hydrate during the day. Made up with fruit water (green plum and yuzu) supported by Macadamia, Jojoba and Sunflower Seed oils for the budget-friendly yet luxurious in results mist. Can replace serum on a warm summery day!

Apothaka Skin Quenching Essence | £32 for 100ml | review

The only non K-beauty contender with a dreamy silky texture that works like a cocoon for a dehydrated skin. Deeply hydrating and soothing, this indie British product it’s worth looking into if you’re on a lookout for something a touch different. NMF (natural moisturising factors), vitamin B5 (panthenol) and Cucumber extract go together like a humectant holy trinity - calming and deeply hydrating skin getting it ready for a better absorption of key products (ingredients) in your routine. Think juicy and plump skin that’s healthy and happy everyday, all thanks to a few silky drops patted on once to twice a day. Joy!

Until next time my Queens,

Full disclaimer:

In line with an updated CMA/ASA Non-broadcast Code, if gifted products are present, the disclaimer at the top of the post will be specific if all or some products have been sent for review consideration. In the instance there's a need to differentiate between PR and non PR, all products marked with * have been gifted to Beauty Drama Queen for review consideration, therefore are considered sponsored and displayed as a form of an unpaid advertisement.

All articles sponsored by a brand, a retailer or via a PR agency where specific product placement has been paid for on top of product gifting will be clearly branded as AD.

Products I've bought myself, but there's a current or past (up to 12 months) relationship with the brand present will be marked with **.

Products unmarked have been purchased by Beauty Drama Queen, gifted by family and friends or won in a giveaway and therefore not in the scope of the legislation.

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