Missha First Treatment Essence
essence,  Missha

Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist)

the claim

The Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) claims it is a highly concentrated essential essence for the first step of skin care which helps maintain optimal balance and condition of skin by developing the skin’s reserves of water.
Missha First Treatment Essence

the science

The star ingredient in the Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) formula is Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate (Yeast Essence E100), a water-like liquid which results from the fermenting and filtering of yeast obtained from Himalayan purple barley. Fermentation is common in Korean skincare. The process basically reduces the molecular structure of actives for deeper penetration and absorption. Yeast Essence E100 contains at least 30% amino acids, 15% nucleic acids, 30% peptides plus minerals and vitamins, all of which are the main components of the NMF (Natural Moisturising Factors), working together to optimize the skin’s natural rejuvenation process. More specifically, amino acids and peptides promote collagen synthesis and nourish the cells while nucleic acids improve cell metabolism as well as revitalize and soften skin.
Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate Mechanism
Bifida Ferment Lysate is a yeast obtained through the fermentation of Bifida. It is a probiotic said to aid DNA repair and better protect the skin barrier when applied topically. It is used in popular high end skincare lines, such as Lancôme’s Advanced Genifique and Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair.

Niacinamide provides many benefits to the skin. It is included for its ability to strengthen skin and improve tone and texture. Together with Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, they are used to brighten and clarify skin tone. Fermented Barley Extract has been shown to soothe skin while yeast derived Adenosine functions as a soothing and restoring agent with proven anti-wrinkle benefits for a more youthful appearance.

In the Missha First Treatment Essence, fermented yeast extract, a naturally fortified form of vitamin B, is responsible for over 90% of the formula. The Intensive Moist version is said to be more suited to drier skin types, containing around 10% more than the original release. (I believe this is third version of the product).

Lactic Acid and Acetic Acid are included at the smallest concentrations and are therefore unlikely to have much impact in delivering their exfoliating and antiseptic properties respectively. Finally, a few emollients and humectants round up the formulation as well as a couple of agents included for product preservation.

the ingredients

Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Water, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Niacinamide, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Dipropylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, 1,2-Hexanediol, Adenosine, Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Cassia Alata Leaf Extract, Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid

the packaging

The Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) is presented in a tall glass bottle with controlled dropper dispenser and plastic chrome coloured screw top lid.
Missha First Treatment Essence presentation

the analysis

Both the CosDNA and EWG assessments conclude a mild hazard rating for the Missha First Treatment Essence, minor flags raised against Lactic Acid and preservatives, both present at very small concentrations.
Missha First Treatment Essence CosDNA Analysis

the application

The Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) is to be used as the first step in your daily skincare routine. After washing your face, get an appropriate amount onto a cotton pad or apply with the hands. Pat lightly onto skin until completely absorbed. Follow with remainder of your skincare routine.
Missha First Treatment Essence

the scent

This Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) has none to minimal scent.

the cost

The Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) costs around USD$42.00 for 150ml.

the availability

The Missha brand is widely available from Korean skincare boutiques and several online skin care stores including iHerb, Yes Style and Style Korean.

the expiry

The Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) has a date stamp on the base of the bottle. Mine was two years from purchase. As I discarded the package it came in and nothing is printed (at least not in English) on the bottle itself, I cannot be sure how long it lasts past opening. I will aim to use mine up within a 12 month period.

the performance

Often referred to as a dupe for the more expensive SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, the Missha First Treatment Essence (Intensive Moist) is around a third of the cost. I can’t justify spending over AUD$200 on a first treatment essence so have never tried the SK-II (and unless it is gifted, I don’t anticipate I ever will). There are plenty of published comparisons available online if you’re interested.

The Missha First Treatment Essence comes in a sleek frosted glass bottle with a controlled opening which allows you to dispense the correct amount for each application. You only need 3-4 drops to cover face and neck so this 150ml bottle will last several months.

In Korean skincare, a First Treatment Essence (FTE) is used as the first step of the routine, following cleansing. I use my hands and just pat it into my face and neck both morning and night. It feels and looks like water, very runny and clear. I cannot detect any scent to this although some have suggested a very light yeast smell. It absorbs fast and completely to give an instant but subtle boost of hydration. I use a hydrating toner afterwards, allowing the positive attributes of this product full absorption into a cleansed face.

As it is water like in consistency and comprises only a handful of ingredients, it’s suitable to use for the 7-skin method, although can be an expensive option for this process. I sometimes apply 2-3 layers but rely more on my toner to deliver hydration. An alkalinity test with pH strips returned an acidic reading for the Missha FTE of around 5.0-5.5 which is ideal. This positively confirms the first claim of this product, which is to deliver an optimal skin balance.
Missha First Treatment Essence pH
I used this FTE for a few months and then put it aside to get the full impact of toners I was testing. I have to admit, I didn’t miss it. Due to its cult status however, I really wanted to love it, so I revisited it and have been using it regularly, twice daily for the last couple of months. Initially, I just wanted to experience that brightening that everyone raves about, but unfortunately, saw none of this. Other than a little hydration, I really can’t say I observed much else. It’s difficult to assess whether my following products are more effective because of this preceding layer. I didn’t feel that my skin was smoother for using it either. At a recommended retail price of over AUD$60.00, I failed to see the value for money.
Missha First Treatment Essence
Although the presence of brightening agents would suggest tone improvements and radiance, unfortunately I saw neither. However, given how many beauty bloggers and consumers rave about this product’s whitening effects, I’m clearly in the minority. I have read many blogs that claim this product has brightened skin almost instantly or reduced redness after a short period of time. After all, skincare works in different ways for different people. I do like it though and will happily using it up until it is finished.

When reflecting back at the product claim which is to prepare skin for the rest of the routine and to provide hydration, the Missha FTE does deliver. The Missha website indicates for whom this product is recommended: chronically dry skin, temperamental skin, dull complexion and those seeking a clearer and cleaner complexion and more moisturised skin. It incorporates the following product description:

Highly concentrated essence serves as an essential first step of skincare to boost moisture.

Oddly, there is no claim of skin brightening or whitening, even though the science suggests it. Texture improvement is said to be the result of increased hydration but there is no mention of brightening. Tone (as shown in the image below), implies an evenness or brightening of complexion, but the description refers to nourishment and moisturization not appearance. However, everyone whose ever used it or sold it claims this to be one of its many strengths. So going by the manufacturer’s claims, this absolutely fulfils expectations, however going by the broader perception of what this FTE is supposed to achieve, it falls short for me.
Missha First Treatment Essence Claims

the conclusion

I’m glad that I tried this cult favourite and experienced it for myself. It adds some hydration while also preparing skin to better permeate the layers to come. It contributes a refreshing start to the Korean skincare routine. Although I wasn’t wowed by this product, I intend putting it to the test once again in the future to confirm whether my routine, the environment or simply my perception of it influenced my observations. Definitely one to try regardless as it’s such a cult favourite.
Missha First Treatment Essence

the summary

Pros Cons
Great, simple formula Only available online for Australian consumers
Easily, quickly and cleanly absorbed Can be a little pricey, (shop around)
Provides a light hydration boost Expected more hydration
Optimises skin for products that follow I didn’t observe brightening
Light and refreshing


the references

Missha US website
Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate INCIDecoder
Bifida Ferment Lysate Skin Nutritions
Skin Care Actives Angel Yeast Co. Ltd
Barley Extract Paula’s Choice Skincare Ingredient Dictionary
Adenosine Paula’s Choice Skincare Ingredient Dictionary


the disclaimer

Please read in context with my disclaimer.



  • Honey

    Hello! I just recently bought CosRX’s Advanced 96 Snail Mucin Power Essence. I use it after double cleansing + toner, then top it off with moisturizer. Now, I’m considering buying Missha FTE because, as you’ve mentioned, of all the rave reviews it’s been getting for years.

    My questions is, would you recommend that I buy Missha FTE and use it while I’m using CosRX’s 96? And where will it fit in the routine? After toner and CosRX’s 96? Thank you in advance for your feedback!

    • denise

      Thanks for that great question.

      The Missha is a First Treatment Essence (FTE) which you use straight after cleansing and before toner. The Cosrx is a traditional essence that’s applied after toner/before moisturiser.

      Hope that helps and that you enjoy introducing the FTE.

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