Think you’ve nailed down your Korean-inspired skin care routine? You probably haven’t! While lots of staples in Korean skin care regimens have become popular in the West — essences, BB creams, and sheet masks are all now standard fare over here — some things, like ampoules, are still pretty niche. Rounding out your regimen with the best Korean ampoules will certainly satisfy completists, but these highly concentrated products will also deliver targeted skin care benefits, which is arguably more important.
But first, some semantics: Depending on whom you ask, ampoules can be serums, serums can be ampoules, and semantics don't actually matter. But upon deeper inspection, ampoules can often prove to contain even fewer ingredients than serums, in even higher concentrations, though of course, this isn't a general rule across the board. In short: serums and ampoules work pretty similarly.
Because they’re so potent, ampoules should be treated as, well, treatments: Just use your ampoule whenever your skin is in need of whatever it is that product is designed to deliver, whether that’s clearing up breakouts, fading hyperpigmentation, or restoring hydration, et cetera. You can stop using your ampoule/serum when you see results. The general rule is that it takes 28 days for a new skin care product to take effect, but that window can vary. Also, you might not need to use an ampoule all over your face; rather, you might be better served by using it as a spot treatment wherever you experience redness, breakouts, dullness, or whatever it is you’re trying to see less (or more) of. Otherwise, your ampoule can replace your serum in your typical routine — it’ll go on after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizing.
If you're ready to round out your K-beauty regimen, check out one of the best ampoules from this list, according to what your skin really needs.
1. The Best Korean Ampoule For Evening Out Discoloration
Snail mucin — the trail of slime that snails leave in their slow-moving wake — has a long list of skin care benefits, from hydrating to glow-enhancing to firming. You can use this Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule for any of those things, but this super popular ampoule (and snail mucin in general) is a really good option for evening out discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and scarring — a tricky task, but this 80% snail filtrate extract can help get it done.
Your best alternatives for resurfacing your skin and evening out tonal inconsistencies are chemical exfoliants, like retinols and glycolic acids, which can be overly drying or irritating for sensitive skin types. Snail mucin naturally contains glycolic acid, but it’s also packed with hydrating and healing hyaluronic acid to counteract any harshness done unto your face. So this ooey-gooey ampoule is a super nourishing choice, once you lean into its ooey-gooeyness.
2. The Best Korean Ampoule For Hydrating
Applying a couple drops of this COSRX Hydrium Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule is like throwing a bucket of water onto your face, but way more effective at actually hydrating your skin (and way less jarring). Hyaluronic acid is among the best hydrating ingredients out there. As a humectant, HA carries water directly into your skin, rather than sealing in moisture like more common moisturizing ingredients tend to do. Not for nothing, HA also restores your skin’s elastin, collagen, and fatty tissues, which’ll make your skin look juicy and plump. Three weights of HA are put to work in this ampoule, along with fellow humectants provitamin B5 and glycerin. The texture is fluid, smooth, and non-sticky — like water, you could say — so it’ll sink blissfully into your skin.
3. The Best Ampoule For Firming & Plumping
Mushrooms: another surprisingly multifunctional beauty ingredient. This Plant Base Time Stop Collagen Ampoule contains a few types of magical mushrooms (but not that kind), including 77% lion’s mane extract, which triggers your skin’s natural collagen production; and hydrating snow mushroom, a humectant that’s just as powerful as HA for moisturizing and glow-ifying your skin. Reviewers also like that this is lighter-weight than other collagen serums or ampoules, which can feel a little heavy and gloopy. Grab this ampoule before it sells out again, as it is wont to do.
4. The Best Korean Ampoule For Clearing Breakouts
Bees make propolis for their own, hive-building purposes, but this combination of tree sap, beeswax, and bees’ own enzymes have powerful antibacterial, antiseptic, antioxidant, soothing, and oil-curbing effects for human skin — aka, all the things a person needs to prevent and fight off acne-causing bacteria. This CNP Laboratory Propolis Energy Ampule is mostly made of propolis, obviously. But it also contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and calming allantoin, so it won’t irritate or strip your skin of its moisture like intensive acne treatments can. Perfect if you have sensitive skin that's acne-prone and/or oily, or if you want to counteract your usual spot treatment’s harsher side effects.
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