Korean Ampoules vs. Serums: Which is Better?

What should you choose: ampoule or serum?

This is one of the most confusing questions for skincare addicts when it comes to layering skincare products.

Is a serum better than an ampoule, and which one should you use to target your skin concerns?

If you don’t know the difference between these two products and want to learn more about their benefits, keep reading.

READ MORE: How Often To Use Vitamin C Serum?

Korean Ampoules vs. Serums: What’s the Difference

If you’ve been looking to upgrade your skincare regimen, fight skin issues, and include more active ingredients, then you’re probably looking to get a skin serum or the best Korean ampoule.

But, what’s the difference between these two skincare products?

First, let’s get familiar with the two types of products separately to get an idea of their purpose. Then, we’ll get more into detail about the differences.

Both serums and ampoules fall in the same category of products with powerful ingredients, together with toners and essences.

READ MORE: Can You Use Vitamin C With Hyaluronic Acid?

What is A Serum?

blonde woman putting eyelash serum on her lashes

Serum is the most-talked group of skincare products.

You can find the best serum for any skin type, and this is a must-have item in any Korean skincare routine.

Since there are so many serums to choose from, packed with all kinds of ingredients, choosing one can be a difficult task.

That’s why your priority should be to determine which concern you want to tackle.

Thankfully, these days many serums contain a mix of ingredients to target several issues at once. This will make your choice harder, but it will also help you achieve that skin glow you’ve been looking for.

Serums are usually packed in a dropper bottle, which makes them easy to use. A few drops of the serum should be enough for your entire face.

They have a lower concentration of potent ingredients compared to ampoules. The thickness of the serum will depend on the product, but they are thicker than essences and toners. 

What is an Ampoule?

gorgeous woman putting the best Korean ampoules on her face

Ampoules are in the same family as toners, essences, and serums, but the difference is that they contain the highest concentration of active ingredients.

Some ampoules can have a similar packaging with serums, but they are packed in smaller bottles in most cases.

Since they are rich in amazing ingredients, there is no need to use too much. Instead, just a drop or two should do the job.

It’s very easy to confuse the terms serum and ampoule when it comes to skincare products.

Unlike essences that come in larger bottles, ampoules are packed in small bottles with droppers that make them easy to use.

Ampoules aren’t meant for everyday use. You should use them one to three times a week or whenever you need a more intense skin treatment.

For example, suppose you’ve treated your skin with numerous actives in the previous period, and it feels too dry and irritated. In that case, a hyaluronic acid ampoule will deliver a hydrated skin barrier.

Benefits of Korean Serums

The befits of Korean serums are numerous, thanks to their natural ingredients and gentle approach. Depending on the serum that you’ll get, these are some of the most common benefits:

  • Hydrating: if you opt for a hyaluronic acid serum, it will add a layer of hydration to your routine. This is perfect for dry skin, but all skin types can use it. Dry skin is dull skin; that’s why hydration should be one of your priorities. Your moisturizer should prevent dry skin, but serums are excellent when you need extra hydration.
  • More even skin tone: If you’re fighting against spots, patches, and discoloration, serums can help. Getting the best Korean vitamin C serum will be one of your best decisions. My skin tone is so fair that I get dark spots even when I don’t go out in the sun. That’s why serums based on Vitamin C have been a staple in my routine for a while. Even studies confirm that this vitamin is successful in treating photoaging, hyperpigmentation, skin inflammation, and can promote tissue healing. 
  • Anti-aging: The benefit we all look for is usually anti-aging. No matter your age, you can always use a boost of anti-aging ingredients that will make your skin appear younger. These serums are usually packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent wrinkles.
  • Exfoliation: Another huge benefit of serums is regular exfoliation that prevents dull skin. These products are usually based on acids, such as lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and more. 

So Which is Better: Ampoules or Serums?

The answer is simple- there is no better or worse!

Before you decide which product to purchase, you should know which skin concern you want to target. Next, you should know your skin type, and learn to read the ingredient list.

If you need a day-to-day product, serums are the way to go. But, if you’re in a major skin crisis and you need to target specific concerns right away, then you should opt for an ampoule.

As we mentioned before, ampoules are packed with great actives, meaning they will act faster and will help your skin heal better.

Serums are meant for daily use, but you should be careful with the choice. Your priority should be to learn how to choose the right ingredients for dry skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, combination skin types to prevent damage to the skin barrier.

The final answer is, there is no winner in the battle ampoule vs. serum.


Can I use an ampoule and serum together?

Yes, there is no reason why you can’t. You can layer both products, but you don’t have to do it every day. Practice this only when you feel like you need intensive skin healing.  

Can you use ampoule every day?

It’s not recommended that you use an ampoule every single day because of the high concentration of active ingredients. It’s best if you use this product two to three times per week in your skin care routine.

Can I use moisturizer after ampoule?

Yes, absolutely. Although ampoules have concentrated ingredients, moisturizers and SPF should be the last steps of your routine. Korean skincare is made of ten steps that include layering these products.


If you’ve been tormented by the question ‘Which is better, ampoule or serum?’, we’re sorry to say that there is no definite answer.

Serums are meant for everyday use and are made with active ingredients to target your skin concerns.

Ampoules also contain powerful ingredients but in a much higher concentration. That’s why they are more suitable to use two to three times a week, or whenever you have a more serious skin issue.

As a skincare obsessive, both ampoules and serums are a part of my routine.


  • “Essence vs Serum vs Ampoule – What’s Best for My Skin?” 2021. Thirstythought. January 14, 2021. https://www.kryzuy.com/essence-vs-serum-vs-ampoule/.
  • Telang, PumoriSaokar. 2013. “Vitamin c in Dermatology.” Indian Dermatology Online Journal 4 (2): 143. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.110593.
  • “The Real Difference between Ampoules, Essences, & Serums – Glow Recipe.” 2019. Glow Recipe. February 8, 2019. https://blog.glowrecipe.com/the-real-difference-between-ampoules-essences-serums/.
  • Wischhover, Cheryl. n.d. “Korean Skincare: The Difference between Serums, Essences & Ampoules.” Fashionista. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://fashionista.com/2015/02/korean-skin-care-essence-serum.
woman putting a Korean serum on her cheek

Which one do you use? Ampoule or serum? Share your thoughts and experiences below!

About Martina Todorovska

Martina is a graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine with a huge obsession for anything beauty-related. Her freelance writing started out as a creative outlet and turned out to be a full-time job. If you have any beauty questions, the chances are Martina has the answers. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES . Follow her on LINKEDIN , INSTAGRAM. Learn more about her HERE.