If the lipsticks in your beauty kit are currently outnumbered by sheet masks, the K-beauty bug has bit you. The Korean beauty market has an estimated worth of over $13.1 billion, with skincare making more than half of the total market share. Yep, you read that right. And as if ingredient-led toners and emulsions weren’t enough, they’ve now given us a whole new buzzword-slash-trend to catch up on. Heard of ampoules, pronounced am-poolz?
Before you freak out assuming you ought to add another step in your morning routine, keep calm and read on. And no, we aren’t taking you down the rabbit hole of the K-beauty regime. We’re simply demystifying the mystery that is the ampoule. Consider this your handbook of sorts.
What is an ampoule?
Simply put, skin ampoules are supercharged serum with higher concentrate of active ingredients. Much like a shot of your serum. You can only use them for a finite amount of time. While serums target specific skin concerns, ampoules tackle crisis situations. Like a doctor’s prescription, ampoules don’t make it on your regular routine. But for a short period of time.
Are ampoules and skin capsules the same thing?
Short answer: Yes. Since ampoules have very high concentrations of active ingredients, they come in smaller containers than your average serum or moisturizer. But when single-use capsules or tablets are bottled in tiny, glass vials; the world calls them skin capsules. Marketing jargons at their best, again? The upside is how well these cuties fit in our forever overflowing travel bags.
Essence, serum, ampoule – What’s the difference?
Even an ardent worshipper of the legendary 10-step K-beauty routine can fumble her way through it on a bad morning. Keeping a track of multiple hydration bombs sans the education is not a cakewalk. And since the lines between serums, essences and ampoules are extremely blurred, consider this your starter pack to K-beauty.
A toner deep cleans and tones skin. An essence hydrates skin. A moisturizer moisturises. A serum targets a specific skin concern. While ampoules are the SOS to your emergencies. So far so good? Toners and essences are thin in texture and far from concentrated. While, serums and ampoules are slightly thicker and concentrated with active ingredients naturally sourced from Korea.
The only job of an essence is to hydrate your skin. In that way, they’re a lot like toners, albeit with more hydrating properties. Essences are basically a watered-down version of your serum. On the other hand, while a day cream and serum are your mainstays, ampoules don’t contain any essential nourishment ingredients you find in a moisturizer, nor does it have enough hydrating properties an essence or serum boasts of.
To further break it down, ampoules are more potent than serums and serums are more potent than essences. And more often than not; serums and ampoules are interchangeable. While essences and toners are interchangeable. This ought to clear out where an ampoule generally lies in the K-beauty skincare routine.
How often should I use an ampoule and in what order?
A quick word on ampoules: since they contain highly condensed active ingredients, most of them are meant for finite use. Treat it like a bootcamp for your skin. Most ampoules are meant to be used once or twice a week, preferably during a skin crisis. See them as a recharge program, something you cycle in and out of your routine throughout the week depending on your skin’s unique needs on a given day. However, since this beauty fad has been gaining momentum for a while now, brands have designed skin capsules for daily use as well. Uh-oh! Confused and back to square one? Don’t fret.
Just understand the logic behind it. Start your skincare routine with thin, water-based formulas. Then move on to thick, oilier ones. Thin formulas penetrate quickly into the skin, while thicker formulas lock the thin, water-based formulas into the skin and help prevent the evaporation of moisture. So, depending on the consistency of the ampoule in question, decide whether it should go on before or after your serum. Interestingly, for fellow mortals who cannot indulge in the extravagance of a 10-step routine, this potent capsule also fits in quite well in your daily CTM routine. To be very precise, right between T and M.