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What is an Ampoule? The KBeauty Skincare Rescue Secret


It’s true when they say less is more, and this sentiment is particularly applicable when it comes to more concentrated skincare products like an ampoule.

With in-depth regimens such as the 10-step Korean Skincare Routine increasing in popularity with the further global influence of K Beauty expanding its reach, it may seem as though the mentality is that the more products, the better, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

While an ampoule has been a staple in many Korean skincare routines for quite some time now, they have only recently become popularized in North America.

Ampoules are widely celebrated for their potency and are said by some to produce nearly instant visible results on the skin. These products most commonly come in vials and dropper-type containers, with glass ampoules being among the most common.

But what is an ampoule, really? What sets them apart from other products like serums, toners or moisturizers? What are its benefits?

Rest assured. We will answer all these questions and more in this article.

So, let’s get into it!

What is an Ampoule?

what is an ampoule

To put it simply, ampoules are considered the most highly concentrated form of a regular serum. It’s basically like a serum on steroids that has been shown to enhance the transdermal efficacy of various cosmetic and medical topical agents.

These supercharged serums contain a high concentration of highly active ingredients, such as pure vitamins and combined enzymes that you use for a limited amount of time to combat a specific skin issue or as a booster.

For example, if you have a big event that you plan to attend and want your skin to truly stand out, or if you have suffered some kind of skin crisis and need to do some intense damage control. In cases like these, an ampoule may be your knight in shining armour.

Ampoules typically come in smaller containers, like glass ampoules, because, with this type of product, a little goes a long way. You don’t need to slather it on to experience its beneficial effects.

While consistencies and textures may vary from brand to brand, an ampoule typically comes as a viscous fluid. 

One important thing to note is that ampoules have a limited shelf-life once opened, which is why they can only be used for a finite amount of time.

This fact is because an ampoule will typically come in air-tight packaging and do not contain preservatives or chemicals most of the time. So, their lifespan is often quite short once they have been opened. In this way, it is essential to check the specific product’s label to tell how long it will last once you’ve opened it.

While sometimes used interchangeably with similar cosmetic items known as essences, an ampoule contains a much higher concentration of active ingredients. These work to help revive trouble spots or issues with the skin whereas an essence is more for daily use as part of your overall skincare routine.

An essence is typically more lightweight and less concentrated. 

However, the lines between an essence and a serum continue to blur as more products enter the market, and consistencies vary from thin to thick for both options.

What are the Benefits?

As we’ve stated multiple times already, an ampoule contains highly concentrated active ingredients. It also contains fewer ingredients overall compared to other skincare items.

Having fewer ingredients in more concentrated quantities allows an ampoule to target specific skin concerns that the user may have, allowing for a more customizable routine without applying or layer on many different products.

In this way, ampoules typically only contain only one or two ingredients with the sole purpose of targeting a specific skin-related concern, such as fine lines, dry skin, skin dullness or anti-ageing effects. Since they are so potent, ampoules are only intended for short-term use.

Thus, an ampoule that contains rice water, for example, can give an extra boost of natural anti-ageing effects. Due to its antioxidant-rich components and properties that protect against UVB-radiation, rice water is an excellent natural ingredient that promotes anti-ageing activity. 

To use another example, if you’ve been on a long-haul flight or your skin is particularly dry after being in cold winter temperatures, applying an ampoule can provide dehydrated skin with a hopped-up super dose of moisture.

One of the most commonly known examples of an ampoule is a product that has received a lot of attention recently for its various benefits, hyaluronic acid. 

Hyaluronic acid has entered center stage in skincare products for its easy absorption and abundance of healing properties, including alleviating dry skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and speeding up the process of wound healing due to its concentration of vitamin C.

Similar to other ampoule variations, it also has a limited shelf life once opened.

Glass ampoules are also used in various fields of medicine to hold a single dose of medication in liquid form for physicians to withdraw with a syringe and inject in a patient. The air-tight conditions within the ampoule provide an ideal carrier to keep the medication in its desired state. 

In terms of cosmetic purposes, the glass containers that ampoules are typically found in are ideal for maintaining the integrity of the concentrated active ingredients while also helping protect them from outside elements such as exposure to light, air, and heat, which could cause them to become inactive.

When & How to Use an Ampoule

Now that we have established what an ampoule is, when and how do you implement it into your overall skincare routine?

Ampoules are only meant to be used in a limited capacity, as we’ve previously stated. Thus, they should not be used in your daily routines. 

Instead, it would be best to use them once to twice a week following your cleanser and toner but before applying your moisturizer.

If you choose to implement an additional serum or essence, you should apply the ampoule after the essence but before the serum. 

Depending on your skin type, you can skip using serum if you have greasy or oily skin naturally, as using both may overwhelm your skin and lead to clogged pores and potential breakouts.

While it may seem hydrating enough on its own, you should still apply even a thin layer of moisturizer on top to protect your skin barrier and prevent the active ingredients in the ampoule from evaporating.

In terms of how frequently you should use it, it will vary depending on the specific skin issue that you want to tackle. It is important to keep in mind that heavy usage can increase skin sensitivity due to its high concentration!

Ampoule – Highly Concentrated, Highly Effective

With the abundance of new products entering the market, such as ampoules, serums, essences and more, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the best for your specific skin type, let alone which ones you should be using.

The beauty of an ampoule is that its purpose is to contain a high concentration of specific skin healing ingredients to help target whatever afflictions or problems plague your skin type, be it dehydration, oiliness, or acne.

Only for limited use, ampoules provide a supercharged source of beneficial components to help provide your skin with hydration, reduce fine lines, and present various healing properties to have you looking your best.

If you are susceptible to sensitive skin, consult your dermatologist before trying an ampoule and perform a patch test to ensure that it does not produce any adverse reactions.

Treat yourself and your skin to an added boost of benefits to provide further indulgence in your skincare routine. You deserve it!