Ampoule for Skin: How is it Different from Serums?

Ampoule for Skin: How is it Different from Serums?

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Once you’ve mastered the skincare basics: a cleanser, moisturizer, retinol (PM), and SPF (AM), you might be ready to add to your routine. Serums and ampoules are an amazing way to add a luxe touch to your skincare routine. If you’re unsure exactly what the difference between serums and ampoules are, you’re not alone!

serum vs ampoule

Today we’re providing the ultimate guide to ampoules and serums. This will help you decide which makes the most sense for your skin type, top skincare concerns and your preferred routine.

What is a serum?

We’re going to start with serums, because without serums we wouldn’t have ampoules. Serums are semi-sheer skincare products with a consistency slightly thicker than water. Sometimes they lean a bit oilier and leave a bit of a residue on your skin.

natural perfection serum

They’re meant to deliver a higher concentration of actives to your skin than cleansers, toners or creams can. Serums come in a range of ingredients and formulas which allows you to experiment and find the best serum for your skin. Some people also find rotating different serums based on the season to be highly effective in maintaining their best skin!

What are the benefits of serums?

Serums are an incredible way to add powerful actives into your skincare routine and completely transform your skin. Depending on which skin concerns you want to tackle you can find serums with ingredients to provide benefits including:

Serious Hydration

From hyaluronic acid to squalene, to glycerin, to lactic acid, there’s no shortage of serums packed with ingredients to help attract and retain moisture to your skin and lock in maximum hydration.


Most notably, serums packed with l-ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C can reverse signs of sun damage, sunspots, and hyperpigmentation to reveal a bright and glowing complexion!

serum benefits


Serums can pack a serious punch of antioxidants and collagen boosting ingredients to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Some include tea tree oil, niacinamide, vitamin A, C and E, ceramides, and ferulic acid to name a few!

Improving Complexion and Texture

Opt for a serum with AHA’s or BHA’s for heighted chemical exfoliation to remove dead, dull skin, and help with cell regeneration and turnover. This will uncover new, younger skin with a more even complexion and texture.

korean serum benefits

Product Absorption

Since serums are slightly thicker than water and applied just after a toner, they are designed to ensure maximum absorption of active ingredients.


Some of the ingredients we mentioned above are known for their anti-inflammatory properties like tea tree oil and vitamin E. Pro tip, keep your serum in the fridge for an added soothing effect upon application! 

What is an ampoule?

Brought to us by K-beauty and J-beauty, ampoules are individually packaged doses of skincare serums. They contain highly concentrated actives. In K-beauty and J-beauty, known for up to 10-step skincare routines, their ampoules are often single ingredients, but nowadays some ampoules can have a similar packaging with serums. They are accredited with providing the highly-coveted honey skin we all aspire to!

Since they are rich in highly concentrated actives and includes thicker textures than ampoules or toners, it isn't necessary to use too much of it on your skin. Consider them as your intensive treatment for your specific skincare concerns and needs

korean ampoule

What are the benefits of ampoules?

Since ampoules are a form of serums, they include all the benefits above plus a few exclusive benefits! Let’s talk about the top two benefits exclusive to ampoules:

High Concentration of Actives

Since ampoules are individually packaged, and meant for intermittent use, they are packed with higher concentrations of actives than typically found in serums.

what are ampoules

Efficacy and Potency

Many actives degrade when exposed to oxygen and light, so as soon as you open your expensive bottle of serum, your product started oxidizing. Have you ever had to throw away a bottle of vitamin C because it turns rancid? It’s absolutely heartbreaking. Ampoules give your products an extended shelf life and ensure that your active ingredients are at their most potent and effective with every use.

When should you apply ampoules?

Depending on the active ingredients you choose, ampoules can be applied day or night. They should be applied after your cleanser and toner. If you’re also using a serum, apply the thinner product first (usually essences and serums first then ampoules). You’ll want to follow with a good moisturizer to maximize the effects!

So, which one is better out of the two?

It’s important to know that one isn’t better than the other. They both serve their purposes within a skincare routine and can be used to tailor your skincare to your personal concerns. And this is your friendly reminder that you should stop and listen to your skin! More active ingredients doesn’t always mean better.

serum vs ampoule

For example, if during the winter months you find your skin thirsty and suffering from dry, rough patches, you might find a hyaluronic ampoule program beneficial to help restore your skin! Since you don’t suffer from dry skin year-round, it might not make sense to always use such a high dose of hyaluronic acid.

Can you use both ampoule and serum together?

Yes, yes, and yes! Ampoules and serums can easily be layered to help achieve your desired effect and results. Be sure to ensure your first product is properly absorbed before you add the next. Skin care experts recommend waiting 30-60 seconds between each product.

Since both serums and ampoules are designed to deliver high levels of active ingredients to your skin, be sure you don’t mix a serum and ampoule with the same active ingredients. Each individual product is formulated with a tolerable level of the active ingredient and if you double up you could be signing yourself up for some serious irritation, redness, and inflammation.