Face essence, a staple of Korean skincare is now part of skincare routines everywhere. In 2023, every reputable skincare brand has at least one essence in its roster.
Lighter than a serum, mightier than a toner, face essences give your skin a surge of hydration while supporting a healthy microbiome with vitamins and fatty acids.
While many face essences use animal extracts like snail mucin or collagen, you can also find vegan face essences made entirely from plant-based ingredients.
Here are our favorite vegan face essences to add to your skincare regimen. We have also included some tips on how to find vegan essences and what to consider when buying them.
All products below are vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they are free of animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. 💚
Are Face Essences Vegan
What To Look For In Vegan Face Essences
How We Review Vegan Face Essences
Best Vegan Face Essences 2023
We have tested different vegan skincare face essences and picked out our winners. These are the best vegan facial essences on the market in 2023.
- Best overall: Tatcha The Essence
- Runner-up: Then I Met You The Giving Essence
- Best affordable: Cocokind Glow Essence
- Best anti-aging: Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Essence
- Best for dry skin: Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Cream Essence
- Best for oily skin: Hourglass Equilibrium Restoring Essence
- Best for combination skin: Sioris My First Essener
- Best for sensitive skin: I’m From Mugwort Essence
- Best plumping: Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence
Best Vegan Essence Overall
Our favorite vegan face essence comes from the Japanese brand Tatcha. The lightweight essence absorbs fast and the skin feels hydrated and soft after use. The essence also complements other skincare products well and does not overly compete.
The vegan essence uses a trio of fermented rice, green tea, and algae that support our natural pH level. The essence is also oil-free, chemical-free, and non-irritating making it suitable for all skin types. The only con really is the high price. Read our full review of The Essence here.
- What we like: instant hydration, lightweight consistency
- What we don’t like: it’s expensive
- What reviews say: highly positive online reviews, praised for deep hydration and glow
Key ingredients: fermented rice, green tea, algae | Benefits: softening, hydrating | Features: oil-free, fragrance-free, dermatologist-tested, safe for sensitive skin
Shop on: Amazon, Sephora, Walmart
Best Vegan Essence Runner-Up
2. Then I Met You The Giving Essence
Our runner-up, The Giving Essence combines many good vegan actives such as brightening ellagic acid from berries and water-binding polyglutamic acid. Rich in antioxidants and humectants, we would use this powerful vegan essence to replace both your serum and toner.
- What we like: powerhouse ingredients, plumping effect
- What we don’t like: can irritate sensitive and acne-prone skin
- What reviews say: skin feels supple and hydrated, no sticky film, some cases of breakouts
Key ingredients: fermented sake, black chokeberry, red algae, polyglutamic acid, niacinamide|Main benefits: nourishing, brightening|Features: alcohol-free, fragrance-free
Shop on: Soko Glam, Cult Beauty
Best Affordable Vegan Essence
Cocokind has made the best affordable vegan face essence using grape caviar, sea buckthorn, and blue algae. It’s a refreshing and antioxidant-rich essence that relieves dryness and boosts glow. We use this vegan essence in the morning and as an afternoon refreshment.
- What we like: skin feels fresh and supple, smells great, affordable
- What we don’t like: the bottle is small
- What reviews say: refreshing, great moisture boost for the day, goes well with other skincare products, good light citrusy scent
Key ingredients: sea grape caviar, blue algae, sea buckthorn | Main benefits: hydrates, adds radiance | Features: alcohol-free, fragrance-free
Best Anti-Aging Vegan Essence
4. Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Essence
This organic vegan face essence tackles multiple signs of aging. Among other powerhouse ingredients, the essence uses malic acid from apples to shrink pores, fade dark spots and smooth the skin texture. An overall great anti-aging vegan product.
- What we like: light and fresh consistency, boosts radiance
- What we don’t like: can irritate sensitive skin
- What reviews say: gives a great glow, fades dark spots and acne scars, smooths the skin
Key ingredients: aloe, zanthoxylum fruit, tamarind seeds, malic acid, green tea | Main benefits: brightening, refining | Features: certified organic, fragrance-free
Best Vegan Essence For Dry Skin
5. Dr. Ceuracle Vegan Kombucha Cream Essence
For dry skin, we recommend this bestselling vegan kombucha essence with sunflower oil. Rich in vitamin B and probiotics, kombucha is excellent for your overall skin health. This creamy and nourishing essence suits well for dry, stressed, and sensitive skin.
- What we like: creamy texture, absorbs well
- What we don’t like: too oily for oily skin, only sold on Amazon
- What reviews say: nourishes dry skin, locks in moisture, glass-like finish, calms sensitive skin
Key ingredients: kombucha tea, camellia, sunflower seed oil, Schisandra chinensis | Main benefits: detoxes, hydrates, balances | Features: fragrance-free, alcohol-free, safe for sensitive skin
Shop on: Amazon Only
Best Vegan Essence For Oily Skin
6. Hourglass Equilibrium Restoring Essence
Equilibrium Essence is great for oily skin. The vegan essence helps oily skin maintain healthy moisture levels while reducing shine and balancing sebum production. It also includes a Special Pollution Shield Complex to protect the skin from external stressors.
- What we like: silky result, skin feels balanced, doubles as a primer
- What we don’t like: not clean beauty, pricey
- What reviews say: not heavy, skin feels smoother and softer, helps other products absorb, non-comedogenic for oily skin, comfortable pump application
Key ingredients: phospholipids, prolipids, hyaluronic acid | Main benefits: balancing, restoring, protecting | Features: gluten-free, alcohol-free
Shop on: Sephora, Cult Beauty
Best Vegan Essence For Combination Skin
My First Essener is the best vegan essence for combination skin. Rich and thick, the essence is more of a serum that nourishes dry areas while helping to balance the oily T-zone. It uses hyaluronic acid, betaine, rose water, and other plant-derived extracts that combo skin likes.
- What we like: gives sufficient hydration for combo skin, nice light rose scent
- What we don’t like: too thick consistency
- What reviews say: soothing and moisturizing for combination skin, good ingredients list, calms acne-prone and sensitive skin, frustrating to get out of the bottle
Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, betaine, rose water, mugwort, green tea, polyglutamic acid | Main benefits: calming, moisturizing | Features: essential oil-free, fragrance-free, safe for sensitive skin
Best Vegan Essence For Sensitive Skin
For sensitive and acne-prone skin, we recommend Mugwort vegan essence. The Korean herb is abundant in vitamins and gives an instant soothing effect. The essence is also good for relieving different skin sensitivities such as redness and flaking.
- What we like: simple formula, nice herbal scent
- What we don’t like: not hydrating enough for dry skin
- What reviews say: soothing and non-irritating for sensitive skin, it also relieves rosacea and eczema
Key ingredients: mugwort extract | Main benefits: soothing, calming | Features: oil-free, fragrance-free, alcohol-free, essential oil-free, safe for sensitive skin
Best Plumping Vegan Essence
9. Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence
Korean skincare brand Peach & Lily are the leaders of the glass skin trend. Their Wild Dew vegan essence is good at giving the dewy effect by hydrating the skin and locking in moisture. The skin feels plump right after use and nourished in the long run.
- What we like: makes the skin visibly smoother, absorbs well
- What we don’t like: can cause breakouts
- What reviews say: dewy and luminous result, locks in moisture, no oily feel, some feel itchiness
Key ingredients: lotus, bamboo, niacinamide, allantoin | Main benefits: plumping, softening | Features: gluten-free, alcohol-free
Are Face Essences Vegan?
Face essences can be vegan but many are not. Face essences often include animal-derived ingredients and/or are tested on animals.
As a more luxury product, face essences often include “special” animal extracts like snail mucin, caviar, pearl, and silk as well as honey and bovine collagen.
The good news is that face essences can be easily made vegan. Most popular essence actives in are already vegan-friendly, e.g. green tea, algae, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.
To make sure you are buying a vegan skincare face essence, choose one with a vegan marking or a certified vegan label from Peta, Leaping Bunny, or The Vegan Society.
What To Look For In Vegan Face Essences
The best kinds of vegan face essences are simple. You do not want to overburden your skin with too many active ingredients – a few right ones for your skin type will do the trick.
If you have oily or combo skin, make sure to pick an oil-free vegan face essence that does not clog pores. By adding an essence, you might also want to skip a toner or a serum.
Dry skin should go for moisturizing vegan face essences that are free of drying alcohol and fragrance. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin are good picks for dry skin.
If you deal with signs of aging such as dark spots, pores, and uneven texture, pick a brightening vegan face essence with some gently exfoliating acids.
How We Review Vegan Face Essences
When choosing our favorite vegan face essences, we take into account a few different things:
- Own experience – we try out as many vegan essences as possible and write from personal experience – how did our skin react to the essence, and did we see any improvement over time.
- Online reviews – it’s important for us to also consider what other users are saying about the essence online, especially people with a different skin type than ours.
- Ingredient list – to be kinder to our skin, we prefer vegan essences that are also free of synthetic fragrance, colorings, parabens, sulfates, and other harsh additives.
- Active ingredients – effective vegan face essences should include at least some science-backed active ingredients such as niacinamide, algae, green tea, or hyaluronic acid.
- PH level – low pH vegan face essences mimic our skin’s natural pH better and thus work more effectively. Our list of best vegan essences takes that into account as well.
Vegan Face Essence Comparison
|Brand||Product||Type||Key Ingredients||Main Benefit|
|Tatcha||The Essence||Overall||Fermented Rice, Green Tea, Algae||Softening, Hydrating|
|Then I Met You||The Giving Essence||Overall||Fermented Sake, Black Chokeberry, Red Algae, Polyglutamic Acid, Niacinamide||Nourishing, Brightening|
|Cocokind||Glow Essence||Affordable||Sea Grape Caviar, Blue Algae, Sea Buckthorn||Hydrates, Adds Radiance|
|Juice Beauty||Green Apple Brightening Essence||Anti-Aging||Aloe, Zanthoxylum Fruit, Tamarind Seeds, Malic Acid, Green Rea||Brightening, Refining|
|Dr. Ceuracle||Vegan Kombucha Cream Essence||For Dry Skin||Kombucha Tea, Camellia, Sunflower Seed Oil, Schisandra Chinensis||Detoxes, Hydrates, Balances|
|Hourglass||Equilibrium Restoring Essence||For Oily Skin||Phospholipids, Prolipids, Hyaluronic Acid||Balancing, Restoring, Protecting|
|Sioris||My First Essener||For Combination Skin||Hyaluronic Acid, Betaine, Rose Water, Mugwort, Green Tea, Polyglutamic Acid||Calming, Moisturizing|
|I’m From Mugwort||Essence||For Sensitive Skin||Mugwort Extract||Soothing, Calming|
|Peach & Lily||Wild Dew Treatment Essence||Plumbing||Lotus, Bamboo, Niacinamide, Allantoin||Plumping, Softening|
Why Trust Us
Founded in 2021, Vegan Avenue is one of the leading online guides for vegan skincare. We gather hundreds of product and brand reviews and couple the feedback with the personal experience of our writers and editors.
Writer Liis Hainla has been covering vegan skincare for years. She has been reviewing vegan skincare brands and researching the world of cruelty-free vegan skincare with all its dos and donts.
As a fan of Korean vegan skincare, Liis has been trying out many different vegan face essences. Liis herself has dry skin, so her knowledge of hydrating essences has proven invaluable.
FAQ About Vegan Face Essences
Essence is not necessarily vegan and can contain animal-derived ingredients such as honey. To find a vegan essence, always check the ingredient list before buying.
No. Snail mucin is not vegan. Snail mucin is a secretion derived from the snail. As snails are not killed in the process, snail mucin can be considered a vegetarian ingredient.
A face essence is vegan if it is free of animal ingredients such as snail extract, honey, or collagen. Vegan face essences are also not tested on animals.
The best vegan face essence is Tatcha The Essence. It hydrates and conditions the skin well and is suitable for all skin types.
The best selection of vegan essences is available on Amazon, Ulta, Sephora, and the Korean beauty store Soko Glam.
No. The essence includes honey.
Yes. Augustinus Bader The Essence is vegan.
Vegan face essences are a good way to boost your skin’s hydration levels and lock in moisture, especially if your skin is very dry, dehydrated, or stressed.
Our favorite vegan face essences are made by Tatcha, Then I Met You, Juice Beauty, Sioris, and other cruelty-free and vegan skincare brands.
Keep in mind that this list is not set in stone. As we keep reviewing vegan facial essences, we will make sure our favorite ones are added to this post. Stay in touch!
See also: Vegan Korean Skincare Routine
Article update on May 04 (2023): Fact checked and medically reviewed by MD Shimona Garg