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Emulsions – The Perfect Skincare Compromise


K-Beauty has extended its influence across the world in recent years, introducing various products and ingredients such as cica, the 10-step Korean skincare routine and now, emulsions to the international stage.

With an increasing number of new terminologies, products, and practices, it’s challenging to pinpoint what all of these items are for, their benefits, and what they do.

You will likely hear emulsions mentioned periodically in the K-Beauty world, but does the word even mean?

Basically, emulsions are a primary component of Korean skincare routines that host a wide variety of benefits for your skin. They serve as a compromise in physical form that combines the hydrating properties associated with a moisturizer or serum but is lightweight to avoid the common issues of being too heavy or greasy.

They can do this because emulsions are typically water rather than oil-based.

Emulsions are an ideal product for people with an oily or combination skin type or those prone to acne and breakouts worried about overwhelming their skin with heavy agents.

Today, we will cover everything you need to know about emulsions, the benefits and how to use them.

Let’s get into it!

What are Emulsions?

what are emulsions

In chemistry, an emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are usually immiscible, meaning they do not mix when combined. A typical example would be oil in water.

If you were to combine these two substances, you would see that they instead separate rather than mix together. However, if you shake the mixture, two separate things may happen.

If you were to add oil to water, you would end up with an oil-in-water emulsion, in which oil is the dispersed phase and the water is the continuous phase. On the other hand, if you were to add water to oil, you get water-in-oil emulsion, in which water is the dispersed phase and oil is the continuous phase.

To break it down, the dispersed phase is the liquid that is ‘dispersed’ in the other, meaning that the continuous phase is the liquid being added to.

In the context of beauty, emulsions are mixtures of products that do not necessarily dissolve or combine. An additional component, called an emulsifier, is then added to help the two substances stick together to form something new to combat this phenomenon.

Common emulsifiers in skincare include ingredients like Cetearyl alcohol or glyceryl stearate.

Most cosmetic emulsions are formed as oil suspended in water, which is considered more stable with less likelihood for the two liquids to separate than the latter water suspended in oil.

In simpler terms, most emulsions are water rather than oil-based.

Emulsions typically come in gel or liquid forms.

What are the Benefits?

Since they are water-based, emulsions serve as an excellent option for those seeking a hydrating product that isn’t too heavy.

So, you still receive the moisture your skin needs without clogging your pores or leaving skin feeling oily or greasy.

In this way, emulsions are a breathable cosmetic product that is multifaceted to suit most skin types’ needs. Still, they are particularly attractive and enticing for people with oily or combination skin prone to acne breakouts.

Due to their composition, emulsions will go on lighter and thinner than other moisturizers or creams. Emulsions are also more readily absorbed by the skin while reinforcing the skin barrier.

Depending on the specific product you purchase, you can also find different types of emulsions formulated to contain salicylic acid to serve as a double-whammy for individuals with acne-prone skin or hyaluronic acid for an extra moisturizing boost.

One of the most significant appeals of emulsions is their versatility. Whether you prefer to end your routine with an emulsion to lock in moisture without overloading your skin, or you use it as an added element to your skincare routine.

The choice is up to you!

How to use Emulsions

As we stated, the beauty of emulsions is that they can be adapted to suit your particular skin type and overall skincare routine.

If you have oily or combination skin that gets overpowered with heavier creams or moisturizers, they are the perfect way to conclude your routine after cleansing, exfoliating and applying toner.

For others, emulsions can be used as an in-between product between applying serum and your heavier moisturizer. Emulsions are not as concentrated as a serum and not as heavy as other moisturizers.

Thus, using them in between these two steps, after applying serum but before your moisturizer, will provide an extra moisture layer for people with normal to dry skin.

Ultimately, your specific skin type will play a critical role in determining when and how to use emulsions to best benefit your overall routine and produce ideal results.

Emulsions – No One Way to Use it

Emulsions are a versatile and multifaceted cosmetic product that can serve different purposes for different users.

In this way, how you use emulsions will depend on what your specific skincare needs are. However, that said, you can integrate them into any routine.

Whether you are looking for an extra boost of moisture during your skincare routine or have a skin type that is more susceptible to breakouts from using heavier products, emulsions present an effective method for creating softer, hydrated, more supple skin.

Like with other skincare products, we recommend conducting a patch test on a separate part of your skin to test for any adverse reactions that may occur whenever integrating new products into your routine.

It would be best to do this with every new product that you purchase, even different variants of the same product, as they may contain particular ingredients that could evoke a different reaction.

Of course, it may take some time and experimentation to figure out how to best use emulsions in your routine and which specific products work best for you.

But testing and trying is all part of the fun!

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