This review contains PR samples° and affiliate links* I am telling you, guys – 2021 is the year of toners and essences! And, well, of “esseners” too, I guess. The slightly tongue-twisty Sioris My First Essener is the subject of today’s K-beauty review, just in time to assist oily, combo and sensitive skin peeps in their search for the ideal summer essence (or toner…as it were).
So you probably all know how much I love Sioris, the natural (now certified organic!) K-beauty brand with gorgeously minimalist branding and carefully selected, if possible locally sourced ingredients. Ok, maybe you actually don’t all know that I adore Sioris, but I have talked about them quite a bit on this blog and on my podcast. Speaking of my podcast – did you guys see that I finally released a new episode last week, all about the Korean sunscreen scandal?
Anyway, back to Sioris. When I first saw Sioris founder Isaac post about a new essence/toner hybrid that was in development, using organic green tea water sourced from Jeju Island, I instantly knew this one would be a hit! Once it got released, poor old EU-based me missed out on a massive PR shipment to mostly US-based skinfluencers, who all raved about the Sioris My First Essener in a way that made me covet this product even more.
It took me a while to get my hands on the Essener, but thanks to UK-based Korean beauty store Skinsider* I finally have the glass bottle with its golden-brown contents sitting on my vanity. Now, I’ll be transparent here in saying that I haven’t used it for that long, roughly 3 weeks, but I already notice enough of a difference on my skin to tell you more about this fascinating essence-toner hybrid.
Sioris My First Essener – the Basics
The Sioris My First Essener was formulated as a toner that also performs like an essence. The two categories honestly have become pretty interchangeable these past years, with more and more toners also containing active ingredients, while essences are often basically a hydrating toner. Most Korean influencers and skincare educators I follow, such as Direcor Pi, also tend to use the terms interchangeably and usually introduce both essences and toners in the “toner” category. So, ultimately, the whole “essener” term is a tad marketing-gimmicky to me, but I get the basic idea: this is a hydrating product that also contains high amounts of antioxidants to protect skin from premature aging.
You may remember that I used to call Sioris “near organic” in recent posts, but since roughly last year the brand has acquired COSMetic organic certification, so they are now officially an organic skincare brand. Listen, I am not a fan of the whole “clean beauty” marketing stick, but I still have a longstanding fondness for organic brands, who I feel really want to make the world a better place in many cases. With Sioris, I feel their concern for the environment is genuine, and, well, the products are just really, really good, irregardless of whether or not the “clean beauty” label triggers your fight or flight response. For Sioris, the main focus lies on sustainability, with locally grown raw materials favoured whenever possible, plus they also attempt to create sustainable, eco-friendly packaging as much as possible. For every bottle of the Essener sold Sioris also donates 1,000KRW (roughly 1$) to Forest For Life, an organisation that plants trees to help counter-balance the carbon footprint created by manufacturing processes. Oh, and did I mention that the label on the glass bottle apparently dissolves in water?! Mind blown!
So, with that out of the way, let’s zoom in on the Sioris My First Essener a bit more. The main ingredient of this toner is 47.5% organic green tea water, sourced from Korea’s green paradise number one, Jeju Island, only used freshly when in-season. Sioris products often go out of stock once the raw ingredients from one particular harvest are used up, so they are serious about the whole “freshness” angle.
Green tea water is especially high in antioxidants and can help keep skin smooth and well-hydrated. It is one of my favourite ingredients in Asian beauty, no doubt, with the Isntree Green Tea Fresh Toner another forever love. Apart from the delicious addition of organic green tea water, current it ingredient polyglutamic acid – a potent humectant derived from fermented soybeans – also deserves a special mention here.
Here is the list of ingredients for the Sioris My First Essener:
“*Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Water, *Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, *Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Betaine, Polyglutamic Acid, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Sclerotium Gum, Citric Acid (*Certified Organic).”
Now, this is what I call a “pure” ingredient list (though I’m realising how loaded the term is…)! It is hard to find a natural or organic skincare brand that doesn’t use essential oils, but Sioris has really been listening to customer feedback and worked hard to bring out fragrance-free products. The Essener is also free from alcohol/ethanol and chock-full of hydrating ingredients. I already mentioned the green tea water and polyglutamic acid, and we can add glycerin and three types of hyaluronic acid with varying molecular weights (low-, mid- and high-weight) to the humectant mix.
What I also absolutely love about the My First Essener is that it combines green tea water with artemisia/mugwort extract – such a potent antioxidant, skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory combo! Mugwort is still going strong as an ingredient trend even 2 years after rising to stardom, and I feel this is quite the testimony to how great it is for skin, especially sensitised combo to oily skin.
The only slightly icky thing to me is that this toner-essence is consciously formulated without parabens, and you are supposed to use it up after 6 months of opening it. That just makes me feel like the preservatives chosen aren’t really that great, as is the case with many “natural” products that go paraben-free. The bottle is pretty small, so it’s quite easy to empty it within the 6 months time span, but I just feel a tad uneasy during this very hot German summer to have the bottle sit on my vanity without fully knowing how safely preserved it is. Ah but alas, you will be hard-pressed to find an organic skincare brand, Korean or otherwise, that doesn’t try to stay paraben-free, as their “toxin” fearing customer base just wouldn’t tolerate anything else. I also seem to recall that most organic certifications furthermore ask for the products to not use parabens as preservatives. Sigh.
Sioris My First Essener – So, Yeah, My Skin just Basically Loves This?!
So I already mentioned that I haven’t used the Sioris My First Essener that long, and I rarely do product reviews this early on – but, well, my skin basically already decided that this product is pretty darn awesome. Even after just a few uses as a nighttime toner, layered over the elmt Skin Illuminating Solution* (another current toner/essence love of mine), I could already tell that this one is truly special.
The first thing I noticed and found quite surprising about the Essener is its texture: I had assumed it would be watery, but actually turned out to have a slightly viscous, almost gel-like texture. The pretty small 100ml bottle was also a tad surprising given the relatively steep price for a toner, but thanks to the texture spreading very easily on the skin you only need a very small amount of product per use. I can definitely tell that the Sioris Essener is meant to be used sparingly, almost like a serum – I usually just shake maybe a teaspoon-sized amount of product onto my palms and then apply it to my face. The My First Essener has a slightly earthy, pleasantly woodsy-herbal scent thanks to its green tea and mugwort ingredient combo.
So, what does it do for my skin then? Well, first of all, it gives a glow – and I mean, a lasting glow. My skin has looked so dewy-glowy lately, without any greasiness at all, and I attribute it strongly to the Essener (thought the elmt solution also definitely played a part in this!). Apart from giving the loveliest of “lit from within”, healthy skin glow, I am also pretty impressed by how hydrating this is, though I guess given the amazing ingredient list full of reliable humectants, this shouldn’t even surprise me. Say what you want about organic skincare and its sometimes problematic marketing, but my skin just always seems so happy when I use good organic products, so…at peace? This is definitely a very gentle product, which made my skin look and feel relaxed and soothed. It also feels wonderfully refreshing on the skin, great for a summer routine!
This is such a fabulous toner choice for summer, since the Essener is light in texture, non-sticky, free from any tackiness and yet offers deep, long-lasting hydration. Mugwort and green tea contain antioxidants that provide anti-aging, skin-protecting benefits, and both plant extracts also help soothe overheated, reddened skin. I would say all skin types can benefit from this hydrating product, though it works best for very dehydrated combo skin.
So, where can I buy the Sioris My First Essener? Well, Stylevana* sells the 100ml bottle for currently around 28$, and US-based Korean beauty shop Ohlolly* for 32$. If you are based in the UK or EU, then Skinsider* is also a great shop to purchase from, and they currently have the best price on offer at 19.20£.
Let me know in the comments: Have you tried the Sioris My First Essener already? What’s your current K-beauty toner/essence favourite?
Take care guys, and stay safe – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest K-Beauty and skincare news, and check out my other work, e.g. my podcast episode on the Korean sunscreen debacle of 2020!
°PR Sample, kindly provided by a brand or shop – I am not obligated to write this blog article, was not paid for the article, and my opinions are entirely my own.
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