I owe this one to Eileen, a long-time reader whose comments are always inspiring and enlightening. She recommended Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence as a first after-cleansing step, and remarked that it's nearly identical to the incredible SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($165, 5oz). I never met an SK-II product I didn't love, but I know enough about skincare ingredients to realize that their prices are aspirational. Missha, a much-respected Korean brand (SK-II is Japanese) looked like a great alternative.
I just finished my first bottle and already had a new one waiting. The Essence has become indispensable to me, as it not only feels incredible on skin (I apply it right after cleansing), but also seems to make the products that follow absorb better and perhaps perform better. I can say for sure that my skin is very very happy. There's a lot of good stuff in this unassuming clear odorless liquid. The fermented yeast that Missha mentions is chock-full of Vitamin B. Niacinamide is also very high on the ingredient list, which is another form of Vitamin B and a major anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and it enhances the absorption of ceramides in human skin and improves the epidermal barrier, which is exactly what you want your skincare to do.
One doesn't have to do the full seven (or nine, depending on your skincare guru) layers of product routine known as the Korean Method. I've been using the Essence under my tried-and-true Advanced Night Repair, BFF oil, or retinol (Peter Thomas Roth), plus snail products, and any old moisturizer. They all seem to spring into life a bit faster, as does my face.
Eileen has pointed out that when buying this Missha Essence one needs to make sure to get the new version (the product was reformulated last year) that says "Intensive" in red print on the bottle and box. The product shown on Target's website (yes, Target now carries both Missha and Mizon) is the old one, but I don't know if it indicates that they're selling old stock or maybe it's just an error. I can tell you that the one sold on Amazon (for lower than list price) is the good new stuff.
Bottom Line: Highly recommended.
Ingredients: Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Bigida Ferment Lysate, Propanediol, Niacinamide, Polyquaternium-51, Ulmus Davidiana Root Extract, Betaine, Amaranthus Caudatus Seed Extract, Pirper Methysticum Leaf/Root/Stem Extract, Beta vulgaris (Beet) Root extract, Phellodendron Amurense Bark Extract, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Water, Trehalose, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Adenosine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Raffinose, Tromethamine, Acetic Acid, Lactic Acid, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Caprytyl Glycol, Hexapeptide-9 Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.
Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence ($49) is available from misshaus.com, Target, and Amazon.