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Dear Soko: What’s The Difference Between a Serum and an Ampoule?

What’s the difference between a serum and ampoule? Welcome to Dear Soko, a series dedicated to answering your biggest skin care questions with advice from Soko Glam’s skin experts. Whether you’re confused about specific ingredients or what you need to do to achieve healthier skin overall, these experts are here to guide you.

This week’s question comes from Adelelou, who has asked the following on one of our other Dear Sokos:
“Can you please explain to me te differences between the serum, ampoule and emulsion?”

Here’s Soko Glam’s skin expert’s answer
Hi Adelelou,
Let me first start with…we totally get your confusion!
We all had to start somewhere and even here at Soko Glam, we’re still learning. With so many different layering products, it’s easy to confuse what goes on first and what does…what. Sometimes we find ourselves questioning the difference between a serum and ampoule.
Here is a quick cheat sheet on the differences among a serum, an ampoule and an emulsion:
Serums? Ampoules? Same, same. They both belong to the same step, and are applied after your essence and right before your moisturizer (or emulsion – I’ll get to this in a sec). Serums/ampoules have a higher concentration of active ingredients to help target your skin concern, and usually are thicker than essences. If layering different serums, please apply lightest to thickest consistency. As mentioned in this Klog article, serums and ampoules do not contain emulsifiers or emollients like cleansers and moisturizers do. This allows the actives to get to your skin faster.
And then! There are differences between serums and facial oils. Serums are designed to penetrate deeper into the skin due to it’s smaller molecules and may have the ability to reach the furthest layers of the epidermis. My current favorite serum? The Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray. It goes on as a fine mist and infuses skin with brightening niacinamide and vitamin C. It’s perfect for summer!
Facial oils have larger molecules and do not penetrate as deeply. Oils fortify the moisture barrier and nourish the skin. My current go-to oil is the Acwell Betaglution Ultra Moisture Milk Oil. This includes a new and trending ingredient called beta glucans, which fortify the barrier and soothes any irritation. I love patting this into my skin after a long day out in the sun.
TL;DR – If you have a skin crisis, hit it with an serum/ampoule to correct the concern.
Read this for further insights between the two.
Now…what is an emulsion?
In short, emulsions are lightweight moisturizers that create a moisture barrier and to lock in all the skin care goodness underneath it. Emulsions are great for oily and combination skin types, especially in the warmer months. A great choice for those hot, sticky days when you can’t bring yourself to use a moisturizer? The Dr. Oracle A-Thera Emulsion. It’s super light-weight and has green tea to help fight breakouts. For drier skin types, you may consider layering an emulsion under your cream for extra extra hydration.
Your Skin Expert

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