YOUR K- BEAUTY GUIDE: To Support Your Skin Care Journey!

Guide to Korean Skincare: Essence vs Serum vs Ampoule vs Emulsion

Guide to Korean Skincare: Essence vs Serum vs Ampoule vs Emulsion

If you are into K-beauty, you must be familiar with the 10-step Korean skincare routine. While most steps are easy to understand, there are some formulas that can be quite confusing. From essence to serum, ampoule and emulsion, it is not an easy task to choose, especially for novice users.

Here, we look at what each of these formulas are, what they do to our skin and why we need them.

lower end of a dropper dropping some liquid (Korean skincare guide decorative image)


When it comes to Korean skincare, it is all about hydration. After all, it is the key to healthy-looking skin. Essence comes in a thin, watery texture that provides a dose of hydration to your skin. They contain loads of vitamins and hydrating elements that work to prep your skin for the next step. The work of essence is to allow your skin to absorb the next steps in skincare like serums and ampoules and to allow them to sink in.


After applying essence to prep the skin, the next step in Korean skincare is Serums. You can apply it before your regular moisturizer or emulsion. Serums are thicker in texture, when you compare them with essences. They do not contain emollients or emulsifiers like the way you find in regular moisturizers.

Serums contain tiny molecules and that makes it possible for them to penetrate deep into the skin. They have some key concentrated doses of actives that are specifically targeted for particular skin concerns like wrinkles, dark spots etc. On application, serums sink in quickly into the skin and are shown to deliver noticeable results much quicker than regular creams.


Ampoules are formulas with higher doses of concentrated actives that target a specific skin issue. There are ampoules that are designed to treat skin aging, acne, pigmentation, hydration or to boost the collagen level. You can use an ampoule for a period of time to treat a specific skin concern.

Usually, you apply an ampoule after the cleanser, toner and essence steps. You can either use it before or after applying the serum but depending upon its texture. Apply your formulas in order of its viscosity, from the lightest to the heaviest texture. That way, you will be able to decide whether to apply your serum or ampoule first.


Emulsions are lighter versions of moisturizers that form a moisture barrier and helps to absorb the skincare ingredients.It comes in a lightweight texture and is a great option for those who do not like to use thick and heavy moisturizers. They work great for those with oily and combination skin types especially during the hot, and humid season. Even those with dry skin types can benefit from using an emulsion. They can layer it before applying the cream to get an extra dose of hydration.

The Bottomline

All of the above, be it essence, serums, ampoules or emulsions – they all work towards improving your skin texture to give you radiant skin. You can surely benefit from using any of them, depending on what your skin needs. Pick them according to your particular skin concerns and give your skin the care it needs.


Written By

Khumpila Limi

Khumpila Limi

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