Why Royal Fern's Phytoactive Skin Perfecting Essence Is Worth It

My honest take on why you should spend your money on this product.

Face, Skin, Text, Chin, Nose, Forehead, Font, Adaptation, Brand,
(Image credit: Design By Morgan McMullen)

Hi you beautiful human, welcome back to Worth It, my bi-weekly breakdown of the absolute best new beauty product I've tried. Sure, splurging on makeup or skincare is a risk, but trust that this beauty editor will only recommend something I wholeheartedly believe is worth every penny. Because you deserve the best of the best. Keep reading to discover the one product you do not want to miss out on, and catch up on the latest Worth It breakdown, here.

Royal Fern Phytoactive Skin Perfecting Essence


"Exfoliating" isn't a sexy skincare word. In fact, lots of exfoliators that claim to deliver brand-new and baby-soft skin actually leave your skin feeling the opposite of sexy, a result of abrasive beads that mirror the act of scratching your skin with a Brillo pad. In other words, way too harsh for my sensitive skin. So, yes, even though I know that exfoliators are good for your skin and that, according to experts, you should exfoliate two to three times a week if your skin can tolerate it, I approach each new exfoliator with some skepticism.

Before incorporating an exfoliant into your skincare routine, it's important to understand the different types of exfoliants that exist. There are chemical exfoliants, which use alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid, or beta-hydroxy acid (BHAs), such as salicylic acid, and are good for acne-prone skin. There are mechanical and physical exfoliants, which use beads to buff away dead skin cells—good for drawing out impurities. And there are enzymatic exfoliants, which use natural sources like fruit to gently exfoliate the skin, making them a good fit for sensitive skin.

My sensitive-skinned self has been singing the praises of Royal Fern's latest launch lately. The phytoactive skin perfecting essence is an enzymatic exfoliant. It's an exfoliator-toner hybrid that seeps into my skin imparting its anti-inflammatory fern extracts, fruit acid, and gluconolactone, which do a bunch of wondrous things at once. These ingredients work together to deep-clean and exfoliate pores, fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, moisturize, and brighten your complexion. It's formulated with the patented Royal Fern complex, which prevents your skin from over-exposure to harmful UV rays and pollution. To top that off, a bit of lactic acid and malic acid are in the mix, working to resurface the skin and boost collagen production, which also reduces signs of aging. Told you it does a bunch of things at once, yet somehow the vegan-friendly formula doesn't feel like too much on the skin.


After cleansing my skin, I run one of my Renée Rouleau Toning Cloths ($16)—which don't absorb 50-percent of your product like typical cotton pads, btw—underneath warm water and pour four drops of this essence onto the pad. (Diluting the product with water is recommended by the brand if your skin is on the sensitive side.) Then, I pat it into my skin. Upon contact, I instantly feel a refreshing, oh-shit-it's-working activation—a slight tingling sensation from the concentrated ingredients that feels cooling.

I let it marinate for about 10 minutes because I've found that I achieve the best results when I really let it have its own moment on my skin instead of rushing into next steps. Afterwards, I apply my serums and moisturizer, and have noticed that those products seem to absorb into my skin more easily after priming my pores with this essence. It's been about three weeks since I started using it, and already I've noticed my dark spots look significantly lighter and the texture of my winter-induced dry patches have improved tremendously. I love that this exfoliator is powered by plants and doesn't leave my skin feeling stripped or drained dry. It feels so soothing but effective and I cherish this bottle more and more every day. If you're looking for a plant-based toner that gently exfoliates and is full of skin magic tracks, this is it.

For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.

subscribe here


Face, Skin, Product, Nose, Beauty, Eyebrow, Lip, Material property, Hand, Neck,

(Image credit: Design By Morgan McMullen)

Face, Product, Skin, Perfume, Beauty, Head, Chin, Water, Lip, Fluid,

(Image credit: Design By Morgan McMullen)
Maya Allen
Former Beauty Editor

Maya Allen is the former Digital Beauty Editor at MarieClaire.com where she covered makeup, skincare, haircare, wellness, you name it! She has a 15-step skincare routine, owns over 200 red lipsticks, and enjoys testing the latest and greatest in beauty. On most weekends, you can find her at her happy place, which is her makeup vanity. There, she’s usually blasting her speakers while singing along to lyrics at the top of her lungs, and making sure her highlighter is on point.