By now, you’ve probably been quite inundated with the 10-step Korean skincare trend — from its converts, to its skeptics and everything else in between. While the full 10 steps may not be completely necessary in our local climate, the routine does introduce some game changers. Case in point? Ampoules. Which simply put, are robust skin boosters that target specific skin concerns. So if you’ve glossed over these little vials because they seemed dubious, a repackaging of serums/essences, or unnecessarily complicated — you might want to make a detour. These transformative skin potions deserve a shot; here’s the low-down on why you need ampoules in your skincare routine!
At A Glance: Ampoules Vs. Essences Vs. Serums
The big question. Ampoules, essences and serums may belong in the same family, but are technically quite distinct in function and purpose. For starters, the steps of use in a typical skincare routine (taking the 10-step Korean skincare regime as an example) would be:
Essence > Ampoule > Serum
Essences are traditionally lightweight formulas that are lighter and of a lower concentration than serums. They are typically the step after toner; meant to add another layer of hydration and as a prep for your serum. That said, the line between essences and serums have pretty much whittled in recent times, with essences becoming as concentrated with active ingredients as serums are. *Some cult-favourites: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Antioxidant Essence
Serums are traditionally heavier than essences, with a higher concentration of active ingredients. Depending on the blend of actives, serums typically address a specific skin concern e.g. Vitamin C (for brightening), AHAs/BHAs (for blemish woes), Hyaluronic Acid (for dehydrated skin) etc. They are usually regarded as the “treatment” step and follow after your toner/essence (or after your ampoule, if you have one). *Some cult-favourites: Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum, Chanel Blue Serum, Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Serum
So What Are Ampoules?
Ampoules are serums, but supercharged. They contain the highest concentration of active ingredients among the three and were traditionally, meant to be used over a certain period of time or only a few times a week. Like serums, ampoules are targeted but more advanced treatments, that will combat your specific skin concern with heightened potency. In a skincare routine, ampoules usually come immediately after toning (or essence, if you have one) in order to deliver the most intense boost for the best results.
That said, a growing number of ampoules suitable for everyday use have been launched in recent years, as a more powerful alternative to serums. While these kinds of ampoules may be less instantly potent than traditional time-bound ones, they can be equally transformative in the long-run. (Psst! Always read the instructions of use on your ampoule, so you know exactly how to get the best out of it.)
How To: Include Ampoules In Your Skincare Routine
1. Use it in place of your serum
My personal favourite way to use ampoules! With the strong concentration of actives in ampoules, they should be more than sufficient on their own. Swap out your serum with an ampoule for whenever you need an advanced boost and let them work their magic. I personally have a mini line-up of ampoules serving different purposes, from soothing to blemish care. Whenever my skin starts acting up on one front e.g. hormonal breakouts, I’ll replace my usual serum with a targetted ampoule — it’s not a miracle solution, but does alleviate the problem faster!
2. Use it together with your serum
For a more intensive boost, layer your ampoule under a serum. This will allow you to combine your usual serum with a more powerful, targetted ampoule e.g. an anti-aging ampoule + a hydrating serum for advanced repair. Do note however, that over-nourishing your skin may not always yield the best results. I’ll recommend doing this only when your skin requires it — for example you’re travelling to a country with incredibly cold, dry air and could use a stronger dose of hydration.
3. Mix it into your foundation
If you’re facing dry, parched skin and flaky foundation, mixing a few drops of a hydrating ampoule into your foundation could be the true SOS. Not only will this improve your foundation’s adherence (and appearance), you’ll get a treatment boost at the same time. But if mixing sounds like a hassle (or you don’t want to risk messing with the consistency of your foundation), foundation-ampoule hybrids have also been popping up in the market. *Try: CNP Laboratory Propolis Ampoule In Cushion.
Get Started: Our Ampoule Recommendations
Ready to jump on the bandwagon? Here are some best-selling, crowd favourite ampoules you might want to check out:
1. Common Labs Vitamin B5 Moisture Ampoule (S$29)
The Good In Gist: The Vitamin B5 Ampoule contains a highly concentrated dose of Vitamin B5 (Panthenol) — 10.8% to be exact — that helps to instantly reinvigorate dehydrated skin. Formulated from moisturising big-guns including Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), Hyaluronic Acid, Trehalose and Honey, the ampoule repairs and strengthens the skin’s barrier to promote an optimal sebum, as well as moisture balance.
2. Lavien Vita Toning Ampoule (S$170)
For: Hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone
The Good In Gist: Lavien’s Vita Toning Ampoule is formulated with 13% pure Vitamin C, derived from the world’s top vitamin manufacturer, DSM UK. The ampoule is a potent rescue for hyperpigmentation concerns, serving as an advanced treatment for freckles, blemishes and dark spots.
3. A’Pieu Madecassoside Ampoule (S$14.80)
The Good In Gist: Arguably one of the most popular and affordable soothing ampoules in the Korean skincare market; this mild but potent formula is 99.99% Centella Asiatica and 0.01% Madecassoside. The ampoule is an intensely calming treatment for damaged and sensitive skin. (Psst! This is one of my own favourite ampoules for alleviating visible signs of irritation (e.g. redness.)
4. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules (S$200)
For: Dullness, fatigued skin
The Good In Gist: A remarkably advanced, highly focused reparative treatment to reinvigorate and fortify skin, while building resilience. Developed with ChronoluxAI technology, these micro, single-use ampoule capsules work to visibly brighten and calm stressed, irritated skin.
5. Vichy Liftactiv Peptide-C Anti-Aging Ampoules (S$52)
The Good In Gist: Vichy’s Peptide-C Anti-Aging Ampoules aim to effectively target wrinkles, dullness and signs of aging with a powerful, but minimalist formula. Enriched with 12% pure Vitamin C (from natural origin), collagen-boosting bio-peptides and Vichy’s hallmark volcanic thermal water, this time-bound treatment (10 days at a time) promises a visibly brighter, more youthful looking visage.
The skincare industry never sleeps. It’s also ridiculously lucrative. The dynamic market does hurl us — once in a while — questionable products that don’t really work, hyperbolic routines we don’t actually need and of course, straight-out bizarre fads that don’t make any sense (but to their credit, are usually also “celebrity secrets”). It’s safe to say that ampoules in skincare fall into neither of these categories. So if you’re looking for your next trend to get excited about, you’ve got a worthy one right here!
This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ksisters.