The Great Dupe: Missha’s The First Treatment Essence Intensive

A little while ago, I ordered a few things from W2Beauty that I’d had my eye on for a while. The main contender was a lil summin’ summin’ from Missha — The First Treatment Essence Intensive. I had seen this all over the blogosphere and, knowing that it was a really popular dupe for the SK-II Treatment Essence, I was keen to try it (at a much lower price tag than its luxury counterpart). 

I should clarify: the version I had read about was the original formulation (without “Intensive” in its name), and while I was originally sad that I didn’t have the version I wanted, I do believe its a reformulation and rebranding, instead of a separate product. I read this both on 50 Shades of Snail and Berries in the Snow, and you know those ladies don’t play!

So, my package arrived and I was overjoyed, and so on and so forth. Who doesn’t love when something arrives in the mail for them? Nobody. Everyone enjoys receiving a “present” — even if it’s one you ordered yourself. I’ve just realised I’m really not telling you anything about the product whatsoever, and simply waxing lyrical on the joys of postmanship… so let’s get back to the task at hand!

Missha' First Treatment Essence Intensive

In terms of its packaging, Missha’s First Treatment Essence Intensive is cased in a frosted glass bottle, more oval in shape than the circular SK-II version. It came in a logo’ed box, one that sort of reminded me of the Dior Addict Lip Glow box — silver and it waslightly monogrammed. I don’t have it any longer but just take my word for it — it was purrdy.

So, onto the product itself. As I mentioned, I’ve always been curious about the SK-II essence, simply because of the hype around it. From a marketing perspective, it’s genius. However, from a economical perspective… not so much. When I found out this was a dupe for the SK-II version, because of the fermented ingredients, I was happy to try this before shelling out major dosh. And I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised.

This “first treatment essence” is like a mix between a Korean toner and an essence. The reason why it’s called a “first” essence is because it’s meant to be the first in a layer of products, and it essentially (lol) is a lighter version of a traditional essence. It’s very watery, and so it was very difficult to get a picture of, as you can see here:

A semi-visible sample of the essence

So what are the ingredients that make this baby so special? If you’ve kept your finer on the pulse of the Korean beauty community, you’d know that fermented ingredients are all the rage. The reason being? They are thought to provide a bright and youthful complexion, much like fermented foods (such as kimchi — which I just ate loads of today) cleanse you internally.

According to Missha’s US website, this essence contains 80% fermented yeast concentrate, which is supposed to energise the skin, as well as niacinamide, a vitamin B component which improves elasticity. Ever since SK-II came out with their product, it’s led to a host of other fermented essences — with this one being the main competitor —such as Nature Republic’s The First Essence. I bought that during my massive Seoul haul, and I literally have this sitting right next to me as I write this, so I’d be interested in comparing these two once I’ve cracked that one open.

I’ve recently been using this First Treatment Essence Intensive straight after washing my face, in place of a toner, and I’ve found it’s absorbs really quickly and evenly. It doesn’t feel silky; more… salty? I know that’s a weird description, and it’s not drying at all, it’s just got a slightly salt water-y consistency. I’m not sure if this description is working here, but… yeah. It feels good!

I have noticed that my skin has been brighter recently, and while I can’t 100% attribute it to one product (my  Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Essence Oil is definitely part of why it’s been so plump), it seems to leave my skin feeling tighter and looking brighter. It just looks very clear — and I do think this essence is helping. Of course, I would be interested in comparing it with the SK-II original at some point, but for now, I think it’s a great dupe.

Have you tried Missha’s First Treatment Essence Intensive? What are your thoughts? Share with me in the comments — and let me know if you’d like me to review the Nature Republic one soon too 🙂

Steph x

  1. Great post! I’ve been splurging on Korean beauty products as of late (God bless you German Amazon!), and I’m trying to decide on a new essence to try. I will check this out. 🙂

    1. Thanks Lisa! Yep, I’m really enjoying this “treatment essence” — it’s more like a toner, but still really moisturising. And not at all irritating. I do think it’s helping my skin to look a bit brighter, and I definitely notice a difference when I don’t use it. Let me know how you find it — and yay for Amazon K-beauty purchases! I fully support that 😉

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