As the never-ending obsession with skincare on social media grows, a commonality is seen throughout: Products with unique textures are the most ‘grammable. Therefore, beauty brands have responded in turn, creating hybrid potions and lotions and even inventing entirely new ones, all in the name of a healthier complexion. But not all jellies nor gels are created equal. Rather, the texture of a skincare product can help determine not only its efficacy and best use, but also provide a multi-sensorial experience that’s not only good to your skin and easy on the eyes, but is interesting to touch, feel, and apply to your complexion.
With so many different names entering the beauty lexicon these days (Essence-in-Oil! Gel-Cream!), it can be hard to know which fun formulations will work for your skin type, plus what effects they may have. But with the help of cosmetic chemist Ginger King, we’ve decoded all the lingo to help you find skin-care products that are as effective as they are fun to play with.
More than just H2O, this fresh formulation, which removes surface-level grime and a day’s worth of makeup, is trending in Asia for the many women who currently wear false lashes, according to King. “Typical makeup removers will make the glue less sticky,” she says. “Plus, unlike toners, these have added emulsifiers and surfactants,” thus creating a whole new category of face cleanser, minus any rinsing.
Shop It: Make P:rem Black Cleansing Water, $22; Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Water, $28
Oils have lots of different places in the skin-care world: They hydrate skin and can also fight off excess oil for blemish-prone complexions. But a cleansing oil isn’t the same thing, so don’t assume you can use any old oil to wash off your makeup or sleeping pack from the night prior. “Some oil cleansers add emulsifiers, so when they are rinsed off, it turns into a milky substance,” says King. Use one as your first cleanse if you’re doing the 7-Step K-Beauty skin routine or if you have a drier complexion, as the oil will help the skin retain more moisture than traditional cleansers.
Shop It: Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil, $38; Yuri Pibu Grante Cleansing Oil, $36
Essences, available in creamier and more watery formulations, are designed to help maximize the efficacy of the rest of your products while hydrating and refining the skin as well. Although the more watery ones may seem like a toner — and the creamier more like a moisturizer — they’re both free of any astringent or pore-clogging ingredients. There are even eye essences now designed to help hydrate your delicate undereye skin.
Shop It: Leegeehaam Tea Tree 90 Essence, $45; Yuri Pibu Artichoke Extract Essence, $34; Whamisa Organic Flowers Eye Essence, $40
Gels and Jellies
Arguably the most fun to play with — King shares that opinion — gels and jellies are lighter formulations of cream-based products that hydrate and smooth skin. They dry down relatively quickly, make them a hit for those with oilier skin, says King.
Shop It: Primary Raw DoYou Azelene Gel-Cream, $46; J. One Jelly Cleanser, $18
Pressed Serum, Gel-Oils and Other Hybrids
Hybridized or dual formulations are everywhere right now: We’ve got pressed serums, essence face oil, essence serums, and myriad more combos right now. And while your essence can’t technically be your face oil, your face oil can take some of the characteristics of an essence — namely that lightweight feel, with a super quick dry-down time. A pressed serum. says King, is exactly what it sounds like: “A concentrated serum with a balm-like texture that delivers more actives to the skin,” King says. And if it’s anything done with oil, you’re going to get an added benefit of richer hydration and more body, she adds.
Shop It: Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Blooming Essence Face Oil, $64; Make P:rem Micro Oil Serum, $44
So while all the transformative options may feel like a lot, know that they’re specifically formulated to perform at the next level—which is exactly what everyone wants from their skin-care routine, right?