This essence just proved to our beauty editor that no, they’re *not* a gimmick

It thwarted doubt and dehydration all in one

Digital Beauty Editor / May 25 2022

As someone with a dry, sensitive skin type, I tend to keep anything liquid-y on my ‘perhaps not’ list. Let me explain: thin liquids always seemed like the opposite of what I should be applying because I figured hydration ought to be hearty! I’ve always stuck to milky cleansers, concentrated oils, and dewy creams, AKA anything with a texture that feels like it’s got major moisturisation plans.

And yet despite that, I remained dehydrated. So what was the problem? Well, ignorance if I’m honest. You see, despite being the perfect thirsty-skinned contender to trial essence options like Jurlique’s latest formula (the Activating Water Essence+), I probably wouldn’t have dared to sample it if it weren’t my job to do so. And what a damn shame that would’ve been considering it may be the step my skin was missing all along…

The product details

Mild reluctance in tow, I started with a good read of the product packaging (because I swear ‘essence’ has always been the one product category that even baffles beauty editors).

What I learnt about the Jurlique Activating Water Essence+ ($50 at Jurlique) is that it’s not only formulated to enhance the skin’s general hydration but it also preps and helps the skin to absorb all the other nourishing formulas you’re loading onto it afterwards.

And as someone with dry skin, this seemed like a seriously important step I’d been missing. It was basically promising to not only top up my dwindling moisture stocks, but also be the bridge between my parched complexion and all the pricey products I’d yet to see major results from.

Wondering how exactly it does that? Three words: marshmallow root extract. On top of being a hydrating hero, this key ingredient is actually able to encourage other ingredients to stick around longer and work harder, too. Basically, if marshmallow root extract is throwing a party, glycerin, squalene, hyaluronic acid and all their other hydrating comrades are going to want to stick around. And by stick around, yes, I do mean absorb thoroughly and deliver the remarkable results they’re capable of.

Feeling more informed, I stationed the essence bottle next to my usual line-up of hydrating potions and got to work.

Activating Water Essence+ review

I began using the essence morning and night (after cleansing and before serums/moisturisers/makeup if I was wearing it). I would pour a few drops into my palms and gently press it into my face, neck and décolletage.

The scent was definitely one of the standout features; the essence smells botanical, almost herbal, like the kind of aromas pumping out of diffusers in luxurious spas. Quite a sensory treat, may I say. Texture wise, it’s a non-sticky lightweight liquid that sinks right into skin (in a way that makes it feel like it’s getting right down to business as soon as you apply).

It also comes packed with a pleasant cooling sensation that my flushed post-cleanse face thoroughly enjoyed – that calming effect is no doubt a credit to the soothing lavender and calendula flower extracts in the formula.

It’s safe to say any liquid aversions I was still harbouring were dispelled swiftly, too; my face felt no tightness, irritation, or dryness in the slightest (quite the opposite on all counts actually). 

I even trialled the essence two ways to really test its true potential and ‘feel’; worn solo and layered under my usual oil and moisturiser. I personally preferred to keep applying my regular steps as well, but even with my dehydrated complexion, the essence felt plenty moisturising on its own.

The final verdict

Honestly, I wish I’d had the nerve to play the ‘are they a gimmick?’ game with essences earlier; think of the dry-faced autumns and winters I could have potentially avoided! I was genuinely impressed with the Jurlique Activating Water Essence+ – my face feels noticeably less stiff than usual since adding the step, and that kind of elasticity-enhancing could only be a result of essence-aided hydration uplift.

I noticed the biggest difference was the lack of skin care residue I’d wake up with – now this could be a combo of the fact that my skin gets extra thirsty (and thus greedy) once the temperature drops and the fact that my new essence was helping heavier products absorb easier, but I’ll still take it. It always felt a giant pity to see the very products that were supposed to be helping with hydration go down the sink instead of down into my dermis.

It’s worth flagging that this is the first essence I’ve used consistently (so this could be the way they generally work), but I think I clearly picked a top notch formula to test the waters with; good job, Jurlique. After all, any product that genuinely delivers on what it promises to do (hydration and hydration-helping) is a winning one, and this one did just that. So go on, call me an everyday Activating Water Essence+ user! You’d be correct.

Main image credit: Supplied

Want more tips? Here's our expert guide to elevating your skin care routine...