Tatcha’s Essence has been on my radar for what feels like forever. I’ve read reviews, stalked the brand’s Instagram feed, even signed up for “Back In Stock” notifications, since this mythical product somehow kept slipping through my fingers. It’s praised for its ability to give skin a bouncy, dewy glow that editors and influencers have obsessed over since it first hit shelves. But this best-selling Tatcha product can be super hard to get a hold of—it’s repeatedly sold out since its launch in 2017—so I was finally able to get ahold of a bottle and put the cult-favorite product to the test for our Glamour Beauty Awards.
For anyone new to essences, think of them as a skin care primer. The watery formulas bump up hydration and help the rest of your products penetrate deeper. What makes Tatcha’s stand out is that its formulation doesn’t only help with moisture, it gently exfoliates and brightens too, thanks to its Hadasei-3 complex—the beauty brand’s proprietary mix of double-fermented green tea, rice, and algae. The natural fermentation of these Japanese superfoods produces lactic acid, a gentle skin care AHA that sloughs off dead cells.
As someone with perpetually dry skin and redness (hi, keratosis pilaris), I was curious to see whether my skin could regain some of its moisture and if the irritation around my cheeks and jawline would let up. I applied the product right after washing my face and my skin literally drank it up—it had that luminous, glassy appearance I’d heard so much about. Amazing and immediate (!) results aside, the concentrate itself sinks in quickly and doesn’t feel sticky. The texture is lightweight, fluid (almost watery), and completely scentless.
I’ve been using the Tatcha essence every night for a few weeks now, and I’ve already noticed a visible difference in how hydrated my face looks. My moisturizers, serums, and exfoliants are all working harder and better—so I finally feel like I’m getting the most out of my current rotation of products. The formula also seems to be working its brightening effects on my cheeks. The splotchy redness hasn’t disappeared entirely, but the tone definitely looks more even.
If you’re still on the fence about whether Tatcha The Essence lives up to the hype, take it from a fellow skeptic when I say it is. My approach to beauty has always been “less is more”—we’re talking three to four steps max between my face cleanser, moisturizer, and the occasional exfoliant or vitamin C serum—but this is worth the extra step.
Yes, The Essence gives me glowing skin without a stitch of makeup, but it does more than that. As the first thing to hit my skin after cleansing, and by hydrating and priming my face for the rest of my routine, I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of all the skin care products in my regimen. If that’s not a dream scenario, what is?
Looking for more incredible product recommendations? Check out all 265 winners from the 2021 Glamour Beauty Awards.
Talia Abbas is a commerce writer at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @_taliaabbas.