There is a 10-step skin care routine that Koreans use to maintain their amazing skin. The steps are; oil cleanser, foam cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, serum/ampoule, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturiser and sunscreen.

If you’re new to Korean skin care or even skin care in general, then you’re probably wondering what the differences are and if you even need all of them? As a general rule of thumb, Korean essences, serums and ampoules are used after cleansing and toning your face, before using a moisturizer.

What is Korean Essence?

Korean essence has high water content and works by smoothing out the skin’s complexion to give it a plump, dewy and supple appearance. The main purpose of a Korean essence is to deeply hydrate your skin, making it an essential step in your skin care routine. When you have dry skin, you have to constantly reapply your skincare products and moisturisers, as it doesn’t absorb properly. This is where Korean essence comes in to replenish and retain optimal hydration levels of your skin while delivering active ingredient.

Korean essences are usually more lightweight in texture compared to serums and ampoules, allowing them to absorb into the skin better without leaving a  sticky residue. Their low viscosity also enables active ingredients like vitamins to deeply penetrate into the skin’s layers and effectively target your skin concerns. As such, the best way to use them is to apply a generous amount onto your skin after cleansing and toning, but before continuing with the rest of your Korean skincare. Essences are very beneficial for all skin types, especially dry and dehydrated skin, as it maximises the effect of the rest of your skin care products.

What are Korean Serums?

Korean serums are one of the most popular products as they are made with higher concentrations of active ingredients compared to an essence, and have denser, slightly more viscous texture. It generally has a higher concentration of active ingredients such as Vitamin C. Usually, with a denser texture, Korean serums work by targeting specific skin concerns such as acne, dark spots, pigmentation, wrinkles and blemishes.

Serums for skin care are highly effective as they do not generally contain any filler ingredients. Therefore, Korean serums can replenish your skin’s hydration and moisture almost instantly thanks to their small molecular size that is able to penetrate deep into the skin’s layers and target different skin concerns. If you haven’t incorporated Korean serums into your routine, start by finding what your skin type is and find the best Korean serums for skin care and your skin type.

What is Korean Ampoule?

Korean Ampoules are the most concentrated out of the three and in general, come with a dropper. Ampoules are used best when your skin needs immediate, short term attention. When your skin is stressed, troubled or needs a boost of active ingredients. It is usually recommended to use ampoules after your essence or serum, or mixed into your essence, serum, moisturiser or mask.

Korean ampoules have high concentrations of active ingredients, making them more potent than essences or serums. For best results, it is recommended to use ampoules sparingly. This will help maximise the effect of the ampoule and synergise with the rest of your skin care routine.

Which product would work best?

To answer the question of whether Korean essence, serum, ampoule or all of the above be used, the answer is that it will depend on your skin’s individual needs

You can use either essences or serums as part of your day time and night time skincare routines, and add ampoules as needed. In terms of the order in which they should be used, a general rule of thumb is to go from lightest and heaviest in viscosity.

Once you know the difference between Korean serums, essence and ampoules and when to use them, it’s important to figure out what is your skin’s concern and find the most suitable skin care products to incorporate into your Korean beauty routine.

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