June 1, 2020

Essence vs Serum vs Ampoule – What’s Best for My Skin?


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Are you a big fan of Korean skin care? 

Well, whether you are or not, I’m sure you’ve heard of the famous Korean 10+ Step Skin Care Regimen

Every skin care enthusiast desires clear, vibrant, and flawless skin. Turns out, it’s not as far reaching as you think. 

You just need to go beyond the basics and add some extra oomph into your routine. 

There are a plethora of available products in the market so don’t let them overwhelm you. 

But really, it’s a question about the differences between essences, serums, and ampoules. Are they all generally the same?  

Not to worry, I got you! Below, I’ll be talking about the differences of each and how you can possibly enjoy them.

Table of Contents


Before I start talking about essences, let’s get to know toners. 

Toners are no stranger to anybody’s proper skin care routine. Dermatologists around the world recommend applying a toner after a good facial cleanse.

Toners are necessary to bring the skin’s surface pH levels back to normal. Some soaps raise skin’s pH levels to an unhealthy level. 

So it’s best to consider gentler facial cleansing options.

Toners provide a base layer of hydration on the face, making skin more amenable to whatever product you apply on top of it. 

It also contains antioxidants and serves as skin prep for the remaining steps of your skin care routine.

You might encounter confusion with labels like ‘treatment toners’, ‘treatment essences’, or ‘treatment lotions’. It is often difficult to tell them apart, as well as their particular uses. 

The easiest way to recognize a toner is it comes in larger bottles, and it’s generally watery.

Toners do not contain ingredients as potent as you would find in essences, serums, and ampoules.


Hydration should be your top priority if you want best looking skin. 

Korean skin care experts consider this as the most essential (coming from the name itself) product application. 

Yes, it is the heart of your routine.

Essences are thin, watery solutions, full of vitamins and moisturizing ingredients. 

It is considered still skin prep next to toners. It allows better absorption of serums and ampoules, which contain higher concentrations of active ingredients.

Essences primarily contain water along with some active ingredients, extracts, and HCAs. 

These brighten skin and keep moisture. Often, ingredients differ depending on the skin type of the consumer and targeted solution.

Since essence has a very watery consistency, you might feel it evaporating quickly. 

Don’t worry. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be!


Our skin is often exposed to the heat of the sun, free radicals and pollutants. 

These make your skin dry, looking dull and tired. Essences help by adding another layer of hydration

Having a good hydrated skin barrier prevents issues on skin irritation. It also allows you to maintain a radiant complexion.

As you age, you will notice fine lines and wrinkles developing too. Essences contain anti-aging and anti-wrinkle qualities.

When and How to Use

You may apply essence after washing and applying toner to your face. 

Take one pump into your palms and apply product starting from your chin, up to other parts of your face. 

Add pressure from your fingers when spreading the essence. Move in circular motion for better absorption.

Some may come in a spray bottle, but it’s easy to use best as a mist.

It is best to use essences in the evening to give more time for your skin to absorb all the magical ingredients it contains!

Best Product

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that aid hydration and the cell renewal process.


Serums are hyper-concentrated solutions

They absorb quickly on the skin because they are packed with high levels of active ingredients. They have a more viscous texture compared to essences, almost oil like.

Serums are gel-like, thick, spreadable, and lightweight. Some may feel greasy. If you have oily skin, consider choosing something more absorbent.


They are made to target specific skin issues. 

Serums are perfect for treating dark spots, wrinkles, and dullness. You get to see visible results much faster than other skin treatments.

All kinds of ingredients compose serums; a blend of active ingredients like peptides that stimulate cell growth and repair, vitamin C, HCA, and AHAs. 

It adds to the ability to produce collagen. This also helps with aging issues.

When and How to Use

Serums come in a bottle much smaller than toners or cleansers. They also have droppers to dispense the product. Some come with pumps.

Take a few drops or one pump and apply evenly on your face. 

They are quick to absorb because of its consistency. 

A friendly tip, wait a few minutes before moving to the next step of your routine for best results.

Serums can be applied during the day under your sunscreen. You can apply them at night too, after applying toner or essences.

Best Product

Naturalico Anti Aging Serum: This 3-pack face serum is the key to unlocking the anti-aging secret. The set contains Vitamin C serum, Hyaluronic Acid serum, and Retinol serum. It’s good for all skin types.


Ampoules are like serums except ‘on steroids’. They are the most potent between essences and serums and should only be applied as needed.


Ampoules help increase collagen production in skin. It adds moisture and restores health.

Ampoules are super charged with rich ingredients that boost your routine. You can use it for finite periods for special occasions, or to treat a major skin crisis.

When and How to Use

As we can’t emphasize enough, only apply ampoules as needed. 

You will find these packaged in smaller vials or dropper bottles. This is enough indication that a little product goes a long way!

Apply ampoules after cleansing and toning for best results.

Ampoule consistencies depend on the brand and its formulation. 

They can contain active ingredients, peptides, plant extracts, vitamins, and essential acids. They are highly concentrated and extremely potent. Do not use this in place of a serum.

Best Product

Biopelle Tensage Intensive Serum 50: These ampoules are what you need if you are looking for fast action and intensive skin healing. 

The serum contains antioxidants, peptides, humectants, and brightening agents that repair your skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and instantly brightens it up.

Each set contains 10 vials.

Quick Recap

Final Thoughts

Don’t fuss yourself too much on essences, serums, and ampoules. 

Find out what your skin needs and choose the products with ingredients that fit your skin best.  

There is no one fixed solution. 

Different skin types and skin issues mean you should select, match, and layer many different products to end up with the best result. 

Who knows, this could be an enjoyable experience in your skin care journey!

I hope you found this article helpful. What essences, serums, and ampoules have you given a shot? Share your experience with us!

For more info, check out this Youtube video: Essence, Ampoules, and Serums: Decoding K-Beauty Treatments

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.