What's the difference between Essence, Serum and Ampoule?

Korean beauty is all about layering, but sometimes it can be quite overwhelming to know and understand which one to use and when to use. Essences, serums, and ampoules make such a case. All three are skin supplementary treatments, used in addition to core skincare which includes, cleansing moisturiser and SPF.

Let us clear it up and simplify it for you!


Essences are pretty popular in Korean skincare. These are lightweight formulation that has a very low concentration of actives. The main purpose of essence is to keep skin well hydrated and nourished. After all, hydration is the key to healthy skin! Essences have a more watery texture than the other two and are used to a skin prep for treatments to follow.


Serums are the most popular among all three. Serums are a little more concentrated in actives than essences and are more viscous consistency too. These are used to address specific skin concerns such as blemishes, wrinkles, acne. You may often find active ingredients such as AHA, BHA, Vitamin C, in serums. All you need is find a product with ingredients that address your skin concern and with a few drops you are good to go.


Ampoules are the most concentrated form of treatment amongst the three. Although, the term "serum" and ampoules are often used interchangeably, the concentration of actives if higher in ampoules than serums. these are used as correction treatments for extreme skin concerns. They help to revive troubles skin and often used as booster treatment once in a while.


You don't need to stress it whether it's an essence, serum, or ampoule. They are all skin treatment. Besides, they may vary in concentration but there is no market regulation for the usage of these terms. It is all about the formulation of the product anyways. All skin treatments when layered properly within your skincare regimen – after cleansing & toning and before a moisturiser, does wonder to the skin, you just need a more targeted approach for your skin concern with the right ingredients. For instance, using a vitamin C serum for hyperpigmentation, BHA for whiteheads.

Follow the general rule of thumb of layering to apply lightest to thickest consistency as it allows the product to absorb into your skin better.

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