What's The Difference Between A Serum, Ampoule And Essence?

If you are into skin care like I am, or honestly… even if you’re not, there’s a good chance you’re are as confused as most people.  How do you know you’re making the right choices?! Here’s some fun & interesting tips to help make your on-line shopping decisions easier. 

I love Serums, actually I am addicted!  I try as many as possible, as often as possible. Serums are used to target specific skin concerns, such as dark spots, fine lines & wrinkles, sensitivity etc.  They contain active ingredients in higher concentrations than moisturizing creams, yet are thinner in texture (clear to opaque, lotion to oil-like).  Serums can be used all over your face (neck and décolleté) or as a spot treatment to target the areas you are trying to treat & correct.  Serums can be used daily, morning and evening, individually or layered depending on your skin care goals.  When layering Serums, it’s recommended to start with the lightest and finish with the thickest.  This will allow optimal absorption prior to applying your moisturizer (and SPF).  They are normally packaged in a dropper-bottle or airtight pump container, containing 30ml.


Ampoules are like super charged Serums and are generally more concentrated, containing the highest level of active ingredients.  They are like booster shots, particularly when you’re having a skin care crisis (to correct, resolve, improve).  If you love keeping your skin healthy, radiant and clear, Ampoules are an excellent investment in your skin care regimen.  In most cases, they are used for a specific time period (series); are recommended once to twice per week.  A little bit goes a long way, so stick to small quantities (drops).  Ampoules are most often packaged in small sealed glass vials (5-10 per pack, 1ml each) and each vial is intended for one time use.


Essences and Serums are “essentially” the same thing (LOL…no pun intended) and are recommended to target specific skin care concerns.  There are, however, a few key areas that differentiate them.  Essences are traditionally lighter and less concentrated than Serums, used after a toner (to encourage maximum hydration) and before a Serum (or Ampoule).  They can also be referred to as an Emulsion (I know, super confusing… sigh…let’s keep on track here).  The raw truth is that it’s marketing. Essences and Serums are used at the same treatment step; to achieve similar results. 

New… you may have heard about Essence Lotions or Essence Toners?  This is a new and very hot trend in skin care.  They have the consistency which we normally associate with an Essence (thinner with a slight gooey texture) and replace a traditional toner, with a more hydrating effect.  I’ve heard them referred to as a “pre-serum”.  They are packaged in plastic or glass bottles and range between 125ml to 200ml.


The Bottom Line is that women (& men) LOVE skin care and products and as long as we keep buying and trying them, skin care companies will continue to introduce novelties (or old products with a new twist to get us buying). The most important thing is that you understand your skin and what it needs.  If you’re not sure, ask us @ info@bskinenvie.ca

Choose the brand and product(s) that identifies with you and your skin care goals (brand vision/concept, active ingredients, packaging etc.).  Try to not get side-tracked by whether it’s a Serum, Ampoule or Essence.  Start by reading the label, the ingredients and choose the texture(s) that you love.   Your skin care routine and preferences will evolve as you do, so don’t worry about making all the perfect choices right off the bat.  If you purchase something that’s a little too rich in texture – know that you can select something lighter the next time. 

Here’s our recommendation of the perfect skin care routine:


  • Cleanse
  • Tone (“Essence” Lotion or Toner)
  • Essence
  • Serum(s)
  • Ampoule (as directed)
  • Eye Serum
  • Eye Cream
  • Moisturizing Face Cream
  • Neck & Décolleté Cream
  • SPF (don’t forget, AM only)

We encourage you to follow brand usage directions, as indicated on the bottle or insert.

Tasch xxx

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