Ignore the "essence" in this product's name as it only serves to confuse. This is not an essence in a sense that you apply after toning as a facial treatment, before moisturizer. Rather, it's a moisturizing toner, one you splash on after cleansing and before the essence/serum/facial treatment. It's an unscented viscous clear liquid, similar to Japanese lotions (toners).
Due to the viscosity of the toner, the adorable red glass bottle that's a miniature of the full size bottle turns out to be impractical - its mouth is too narrow for effective dispensing. With every use, I struggle to get just a few drops onto my palm, often shaking hard to pour and ends up getting the toner splashed and spilled. Sigh.
I first tried this toner here in SF, before my travels. It was so sticky going on, and stayed sticky for a long long while until it absorbed. I couldn't layer anything else on afterwards as it was quite potent on its own! So I decided to take it with me to my folks as it's super cold and dry where they are. There, it was a completely different story. The toner didn't feel as sticky going, and it absorbed much faster, leaving my skin very soft and ready for the next layers. I would even credit this toner in helping my skin adjust as I returned home to SF with only some flaking around the mouth area.
I read on Shiseido's website that this toner is some of the very first products introduced in Japan in 1897. The thought of using this in Japan gives me the shivers. Seriously? In that hot and humid summer? Eeps. Spare me! So I do recommend this toner, but only for those with extremely dry skin or those who live in a dry environment. Well, that is unless you like the stickiness ^.^