What is the Difference between Skincare Ampoules, Serums, or Essences?

There are loads of skincare product types out there, all of which treat your body in different ways. You may have seen the terms ampoules, serums, and essences a lot in skincare circles. How do you know what does what? When and how do you use these products for the best results?

These products are quite similar, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with the terms.

Here’s what you need to know about ampoules, essences, and serums so that you can buy the right products for your body!


Essentially, ampoule skincare products are the most potent of the ampoule, essence, and serum family. They have the highest amount of active components in the product’s makeup to target a problem.

An ampoule is only meant to be used for a short period to boost your routine when you notice a particular skin problem. The product is beneficial for sorting out dehydrated skin. You often do not need to use it every day. Applying it two or three times per week should give your skin the boost it needs.

You can apply the ampoule product after your toner but before any essences or serums. Because it is so concentrated, the ampoule product usually comes in smaller containers with a dropper.


A serum typically contains active ingredients that target specific skincare problems. These issues that need improvements can include wrinkles, dark spots, dry skin, or the need for a brighter skin tone, etc. The active ingredients will be more concentrated in serums to hone in on the problem with quick results.

The consistency of serums is a bit more like oil than an essence. They can be gel-based, visceral, or more like a liquid. Many are opaque, and they can come in smaller bottles with a dropper or pump.


Essences and serum are used at the same skincare ‘step’ or juncture. This is just after you have used your toner and before applying a serum if necessary. The bottles for essences often come with a spritz or pump-action top. Both are also made to get almost the same results, and currently, the boundary between the two is blurring.

Essences are very similar to a serum, but there are some key differences. Traditionally, an essence was a thinner version of a serum. Nowadays, serum skincare products are becoming thinner in the body, and essences are now becoming thicker.

Essences are designed to have more hydrating power than a face cream. You can use an essence when your skin is dehydrated. These times could be seasonal, like during the wintertime and just before the spring rains hit. It could also be when you are stressed and your skin needs some extra hydration and support. Essences are great for helping to diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

Basic Skincare Guidelines

It can be unclear when to use which products. Let the texture and tone of your skin at any given time guide you as to what you need to use.

When applying more than one product, the general rule is to put on the thinnest product first and the creamiest or thickest one last.

Also, don’t forget that your skin’s needs will continuously be varying as you are a living being. Therefore, you need to regularly evolve your skincare routines to ensure your skin has all it needs. There is no one-size-fits-all, by-the-book regimen – it’s all about taking care of your skin with its requirements.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, serums, essences, and ampoules are quite similar. It is best to consult with a qualified skin care professional to advise you which type of product is right for your particular skincare issue.