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Beauty & Personal Care

Korean skincare: All you need to know about essence, serum, and ampoule

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A lot of new products in the Korean skincare range might seem complicated and you might be wondering what they are exactly. There’s a whole range including cleansers, toners, exfoliators, serums, essences, ampoules, moisturizers, face mists, and so many more to choose from! It can definitelyget overwhelming to figure out what your skin needs to be healthy

Thanks to increasing popularity of Korean skincare routine and Korean beauty products, there has been induction of many new products. There are some products in the routine that make sense but some categories can have you thinking, what’s this? Essence, ampoule, and serum belong to this second category and they are becoming popular all over the world. But what exactlyare they and what do they do?

In some Korean skincare routines, you will find the routine calls for a cleanser, toner, essence, and then serum followed by a moisturizer. This becomes tedious and makes you wonder what is going on!


A serum contains a few active ingredients that tackle a specific problem such as dark spots, brightening, wrinkles, etc. The active ingredient concentration is higher as compared to what you might find in a regular moisturizer. Generally, serums come in a bottle and they have a thicker consistency. They are almost like oil. A serum sinks into the skin deeply when applied after cleansing.

Miwaji Hyalu Serum Veil

miwaji serum
Serum (intense hydration, radiance, and reducing fine lines) + Veil (protective layer on the skin surface that keeps all the good stuff locked in)

An essence is also essentially the same as a serum. You must be wondering then why there are two categories? Although composition-wise they are similar, essences are more lightweight. And, their concentration is also lower than serums.

The Pure Lotus Essence with Lotus Leaf

the pure lotus essence
A combo of essence and toner in one bottle that hydrates, keeps skin balanced, and makes it brighter

In recent years, the line between the two categories is becoming more and more blurred. The serums are getting a lighter-weight texture and the essences are becoming thicker. The thing that remains constant is that they both contain a high concentration of active ingredients.

Both are used at the same step of a skincare routine. They are applied after the cleansing and toning stage. They have different textures, but their application comes after toner is applied. They give an additional layer of hydration to the skin.


We talked about serum and essence which are essentially the same. So, then what is an ampoule? It belongs to the same family as serum and essence. An ampoule is a supercharged serum. It has a higher concentration of active ingredients and it is used for a specific period. This like a booster shot when having a skin crisis or undergoing some related issues. They are packed in even smaller bottles than essence. In a skincare routine, an ampoule comes before the application of essence or serum.

Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule

mizen snail repair ampoule
Reduce fine lines, the appearance of acne scarring, and healing of any other troubled skin
Bottom Line

Although they are the same, you must figure out what your skin needs. You must select the products with ingredients that match up with the requirements. No need to decide based on if the label says it is a serum or an essence. Choose the product whose texture you like. No need to blindly follow all the steps as skincare routine should continuously evolve based on your skin requirements.

Image Credit: Peach & Lily

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About Jinju Jeon

Senior Writer @KoreaProductPost

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Comments (1)

  1. Some really great info , Sword lily I discovered this. “Our pleasures were simple-they included survival.” by Dwight D Eisenhower.

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