Serums, Ampoules And Emulsions: What’s The Difference Between Them All?

Written by Sanya HamdaniSep 16, 2023
Serums, ampoules and emulsions: What’s the difference between them all?

There is no end to skincare products and cosmetics. By the time you learn what compact cushions and jade rollers do, there’s a new product in the market claiming to be super essential. The three names to have joined this list in the recent past are serums, ampoules and emulsions.

While you may have heard about serums, most people are unaware about ampoules and emulsions. The simple answer is that all three belong in the same step in any skincare routine, they are applied before your moisturiser. However, you do not need to invest in all three, read on to find out the difference between them and which one you really need.




Serums are lightweight concentrated formulas that contain a few active ingredients to address specific skin concerns such as dark spots, wrinkles, dull skin etc. The active ingredients are usually more concentrated than what you get in your moisturiser. Serums are formulated with antioxidants to sit under your sunscreen during the day or to offer anti-ageing benefits during the night. Although lightweight in texture, they pack a major punch when it comes to skincare benefits. Serums usually have an oil-like consistency, but can also come in a gel form.




Ampoules belong to the same family as serums. They are what we’d like to call a supercharged serum that has higher concentrations of active ingredients that are meant to be used for a specific amount of time when you’re facing a skin crisis. Ampoules are a great way to target specific skin concerns like dark spots, dry skin, or uneven skin tone. They are thicker and stickier in consistency and the heavyweight champion of the Korean skincare routine. You don’t need to include an ampoule in your everyday skincare regimen; save it for the days when your skin is acting up and needs serious pampering.




Lighter than a lotion and thicker and less concentrated than a serum. An emulsion is like a watered-down, lightweight facial lotion. This water-based moisturiser prepares your skin to absorb your skincare products better. Emulsions are hydrating, moisturising and non-comedogenic making them perfect for those with oily, combination and sensitive skin types. It can be used along with serums or ampoules to add an extra layer of hydration to your routine. It creates a moisture barrier and locks in all the skincare goodness in the layers of the skin.

Sanya Hamdani

Written by

Sanya Hamdani is a skincare enthusiast and lipstick hoarder, she truly believes no two red lipsticks look exactly alike. With a Master's degree in Communication & Journalism and 5+ years of digital writing experience up her sleeve, Sanya has some of the biggest beauty experts in the country on her speed dial. When she's not swatching products or writing about the latest trends in beauty, you will find her watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.


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