If, like me, you’ve ever wrecked your skin with harsh toners in the pursuit of glassy, baby soft skin, this one’s for you. True Botanicals—the luxe, conscious skin care brand repped by celebs like Olivia Wilde, Zazie Beetz, and Laura Dern—just launched a new essence that promises the soft and smooth results we’re all after, without stripping your skin of hydration. The Microbiome Enzyme Essence ($80) uses a cocktail of active prebiotics, natural hydrators, and micro-exfoliating enzymes to gently slough off dead skin cells, while replenishing your skin’s microbiome to leave it looking and feeling radiant, hydrated, and glow-y. And now that I’ve tried it, I can say it’s totally worth the hype.
Made with microbiome boosting buckwheat ferment, biocompatible enzymes, and gently exfoliating finger lime extract sustainably sourced from Australian rainforests, this multipurpose treatment brightens, softens, and smooths skin without irritation—making it worth every penny.
What’s an essence?
First, a quick skin-care lesson. Rooted in K-beauty tradition, facial essences are kind of like a serum and toner hybrid—they typically offer a hydrating or brightening benefit, Charlotte Cho, founder of the K-beauty site Soko Glam, previously told Well + Good—and they prep your skin for optimal absorption of the skin-care products you apply afterwards. The Microbiome Enzyme essence does all of the above.
It uses prebiotics to support skin’s microbiome
While everyone knows the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome in terms of your gut health, the True Botanicals essence shifts the focus to your skin’s microbiome, nourishing it with fermented buckwheat extract, a prebiotic ingredient that feeds the good-for-you bacteria on your skin. Which, according to the brand’s Chief Product Innovation Officer, Sarina Godin, is the key to strengthening skin barrier function and shielding it from potential irritants. This all tracks, because despite its skin-resurfacing claims, the Microbiome Enzyme Essence feels incredibly gentle on my skin. Factor in the hydrating ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, and ginger water, and the glow-boosting essence leaves my face feeling more soft and balanced than ever before—which isn’t something I can say about other liquid exfoliants I’ve tried.
Naturally derived AHAs and enzymes make skin baby soft
Instead of relying on heavy duty acids that can do a number on skin if used too often, the Microbiome Enzyme Essence uses biocompatible (science speak for effective but non-irritating) pineapple and papaya enzymes, and finger lime extract (a natural source of AHAs or alpha hydroxy acids) to gently soften and exfoliate skin—making it safe for daily use on all skin types, even sensitive skin. So you’re pretty much getting all of the skin-smoothing and brightening benefits, without the burning sensation or the risk of going overboard and compromising your skin barrier—what could be better? Even after a solid two and a half weeks of using the essence twice daily, I already began to notice some of the discoloration on my forehead had faded, and my skin generally looked smoother and more radiant—so stronger isn’t always better.
Every application sparks joy
Because the ritual of applying skin care is half of the fun for me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how incredible this essence feels to apply. Unlike some essences which can have a more viscous texture, the Microbiome Enzyme Essence has a watery, lightweight feel that my skin drinks up in a flash, with zero tackiness or residue. What’s more, the light ginger scent—all natural, of course—makes every application feel like a luxury spa experience. It helps put some pep in my step in the mornings, and at night, it’s the primer for my other skin care steps. After patting the essence onto clean, dry skin, I’ll usually follow up with antioxidant-loaded True Botanicals’ Pure Radiance Oil ($110) to build on the brightening benefits.
To get in on the radiance-boosting goodness, you’ll want to snag a bottle of the Microbiome Enzyme Essence on the True Botanicals website before the rest of the skin-care world catches on.
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