Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner review: The new holy grail?

The internet has been raving about the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner for a while now. It doesn’t come as a surprise because Korean skincare brands have been on the rise for solid reasons. The philosophy behind this brand is to deliver skin relaxation using minimal ingredients. Their products are fragrance-free which is a godsend for sensitive skin! This philosophy is very close to another cult favorite (and my favorite) brand, Beauty of Joseon that I have reviewed before.

I’ll be honest, I was pretty impressed by the online reviews and positive feedback. Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner was the first product I tried from this brand, and I think this product deserves your attention. I am going to get into the “why” in this detailed review. So, let’s get into it!

Product claims: What is Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner claiming to be?

According to the official website, the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is an intensely hydrating essence toner that provides a dewy and smooth finish. Made with only seven essential ingredients, it works even for the most sensitive skin.

It supports the skin barrier while having an anti-inflammatory effect on acne-prone skin. Instead of using purified water, the formula contains Astragalus Membranaceus Root Water which is the star ingredient. It is packed with minerals that provide deep moisture to the skin and is one of the bestsellers of the brand.

Best suited for:

The Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is suitable for all skin types. However, dry, dehydrated, combination, and sensitive skin types can benefit from it the most.

Things to know:

The Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is:

  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Certified as a zero-irritation product
  • Hydrating
  • Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin

First impressions:

This is an essence toner, so it is basically a thicker toner that is used after cleansing. Right off the bat, I can say that the consistency reminded me of Hyaluronic acid. It is lightweight in texture and doesn’t feel greasy or heavy. Gets absorbed fast and preps the skin for the next steps. Let’s dive deeper into the ingredients and see what makes this essence toner special.


pyunkang yul essence toner

Pyunkang Yul was established in 2016 by Pyunkang Korean Medicine Hospital, a clinic known for treating atopic skin disorders. You can clearly see that in their packaging too. The packaging resembles a traditional medicine that doesn’t look that exciting. I am for once a fan of simplicity and it works for me.

The product comes in two sizes: 100 ml and 200 ml. The navy blue bottle has a flip cap and is very easy to use. I find that the 100 ml one is travel friendly and doesn’t spill all over when you carry it. The cap has an opening for the product, bear in mind that it is small, so you need to adjust it to your skin. Overall, a very staple packaging unique to the brand.


One of the reasons why I wanted to try the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner was the fact that it is fragrance-free. Trust me, you don’t want to get a scented product with sensitive skin like me.

It doesn’t have any added scent. Some online reviews claimed that it had a hint of medicinal scent, although I disagree. For me, this is what every essence toner should smell like – NOTHING!

Application and Texture

pyunkang yul essence toner

It has a liquid consistency, but a kind of unique one. The texture is like a thicker, hyaluronic acid-based toner, which reminds me of a Klairs toner. The only difference is it is on the thick side. Although the formula has some viscosity to it, it doesn’t sit on the skin or feel heavy.

pyunkang yul essence toner

As you can see, it sinks into the skin right away. I didn’t experience any difficulty with the application.

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner ingredients

There is a total of seven ingredients here. As the brand focuses on minimalistic beauty, it seems fitting. Astragalus Membranaceus Root Water is the main ingredient here that makes up 91% of the product!

Here is the full list:

Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Carbomer, Arginine

As you can see, the list doesn’t have the universal solvent used in cosmetics – water.

Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract – Also known as Huangqi or Milkvetch root , it is an herb that gained popularity in traditional Chinese medicine. Research shows that this herb offers amazing benefits from anti-aging to anti-cancer effects.

In skincare, it is used for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant purposes. This is thanks to the fact that it is packed with amino acids, flavonoids, and saponins. The latter has also been proven to be effective for acne treatment.

The herb is great for reactive/sensitive skin, as it calms and hydrates the skin. Plus, it promotes wound healing, increases skin elasticity, and promotes collagen production. Overall, it is a great ingredient that needs more TLC and recognition!

1,2-Hexanediol – Remember how the formulation doesn’t include water – the universal solvent? Well, instead of water, the formula has 1,2-Hexanediol – another great solvent.

It is a moisture-binding ingredient that softens and smoothes the skin. In this regard, it works as an emollient + humectant. Additionally, it is used as a preservative in skincare products to prolong their shelf life.

Butylene Glycol – BG is another solvent that is known for its dissolving qualities. It preps and softens the skin, so the product can be easily applied. Plus, it traps water in the skin and performs its duties as a humectant.

Check out our post for more: Butylene glycol in skincare: What is it, and why should you use it?

Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane – this one is a mouthful! Technically, it is a wax-like ingredient that belongs to the family of silicones. It is widely used as a texture enhancer that smoothes the skin and gives it a silky feel.

Sidenote: Contrary to the misinformation surrounding silicones, they are absolutely safe to use in skincare. Any claim about silicones being “bad” or “toxic” for the skin has not been backed by any published research.

Hydroxyethylcellulose – a thickening agent that comes from cellulose. Mainly used in gel formulas, it improves the texture of the skincare product. It reduces skin irritation and lets the product melt into the skin.

Carbomer – Another texture enhancer that has a thickening boost. It improves skin’s water retention and generally makes the product work comfortably on the skin. It helps adjust the skin’s pH level and stabilize the formula in general.

Arginine – You should already be familiar with arginine, as they are present in amino acids that can be found in our body! Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins like collagen. As a skincare ingredient, it provides antioxidant benefits and plays a major role in repairing skin damage. It also packs up more hydration to this already hydrating formula.

Overall impressions: Does Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner work?

Pyunkang Yul essence toner

I think that the Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner definitely works! If you have dry, sensitive skin that needs some extra love, this essence toner will help your skin. It will plump and hydrate dry skin, and strengthen the skin barrier. That doesn’t mean that it can’t help other skin concerns. You can still have dehydrated skin if you have oily skin too. Because oil doesn’t equal hydration.

These are my overall impressions:

Preps the skin for next steps: If you are looking for a toner that instantly hydrates the skin, this is it. It has a thicker consistency, it is not exactly the runniest toner out there. I mean, it is an essence toner, Koreans invented it for a reason! Essences are like fatty toners, that’s the way they work. The consistency reminds me of a hyaluronic acid, only thicker. The only difference is HA dries down much more quickly on the skin. Plus, it doesn’t pill up at all, which is important for layering products.

Hydrates and leaves the skin soft: It is true that regardless of skin type, every skin needs moisture and hydration. That said, dry and sensitive skin needs it the most. My skin isn’t very dry, but it has the tendency to dry out if I don’t give it enough moisture. I like the finish of the product, it leaves the skin soft and smooth. Overall, I am happy with the hydration level. However, it is the most hydrating product for dry skin? Hard to say, since I am sure there are many other competitors in the K-beauty market.

Doesn’t irritate sensitive skin: This factor defines the overall performance of the product for me. The Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner won’t irritate or break out your skin. I didn’t experience any burning or stinging while using it. You don’t need to worry about an adverse reaction with this essence toner.

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner

Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
4 5 0 1
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is a decent essence toner for dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin. It preps the skin, hydrates and leaves it plump and smooth with zero irritation.
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner is a decent essence toner for dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin. It preps the skin, hydrates and leaves it plump and smooth with zero irritation.
4.0 rating
Total Score
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner 3

How to use Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner?

There are a couple of way to use this essence toner. I used it after cleansing, as you would with most essence toners. I am not a big fan of cotton pads, although if you feel like you want to get rid of dirt, oil or makeup residue, go ahead! This is the most common way to use it.

Or, just take a few drops in your palm (for me 4 or 5 drops was enough) and use your fingertips to gently apply it into the skin. Wait for a minute or so until it dries on the skin.

Another way to use it would be as a sheet mask. Soak cotton pads up and put it on your driest areas.

Final Verdict

The bottom-line is, if your skin skin is on the dry side that is sensitive, this might be your new go to. Overall, I have had a positive experience using this essence toner. It is the new holy grail though? Honestly, for me, it isn’t. And it isn’t because it is not great, it is just I think there might be better products out there. If you have extremely dry skin, this might fall short in terms of hydration. But that’s also a big PERHAPS. You gotta get one and give it a whirl.


Pyunkang Yul essence toner doesn’t specifically target oily skin. However, you can still use it if you have oily, acne prone skin because of Astragalus Membranaceus Root Water‘s antibacterial properties.

In Korean skincare, essence toners combine both essences and toners. Essences are like thicker toners that boost skin’s hydration levels. Essence toners can be used after cleansing to balance skin’s pH level, or just as an essence to take skin’s hydration to a new level.

The pH of Pyunkang Yul essence toner is around skin’s pH level which is somewhere between 4.0-6.0. This makes it perfect for sensitive, dry skin.

Yes! The Pyunkang Yul essence toner is alcohol-free.

Yes, the Pyunkang Yul essence toner is fragrance-free and there is no added scent to it.

Yes, absolutely! Due to its gentle formula, Pyunkang Yul essence toner works perfectly with retinol routine. It can actually be soothing and prevent any likely retinol irritation.

Pyunkang Yul essence toner is both essence and a toner. It is up to you to decide how to tweak it in your routine. You can either use it as a toner after cleansing, or as a hydration serum.

No, we at THESKINVERSE pick and review products that we like independently.

Pyunkang Yul essence toner

Pyunkang Yul essence toner
4 5 0 1
With its soothing and calming qualities, this essence toner is worth trying. It is non-irritating, alcohol and fragrance free which makes it ideal for sensitive skin.
With its soothing and calming qualities, this essence toner is worth trying. It is non-irritating, alcohol and fragrance free which makes it ideal for sensitive skin.
  • Performance
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
  • Quality
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
  • Ingredients
    4.0 rating
    4/5 Good
  • Sensitive skin friendly
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
  • Packaging
    5.0 rating
    5/5 Amazing
Total Score

The Good

  • Ideal for dry, sensitive skin
  • Zero irritation
  • Free of alcohol and fragrance
  • Calms the skin
  • Minimizes redness
  • Leaves the skin hydrated
  • Cruelty-free
  • Good value for money

The Bad

  • Hydration factor might fall short for very dry skin
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