Should you make skin ampoules part of your beauty routine?

Intrigued by skin ampoules? Experts explain what’s on offer from these unique skincare products.

Good things come in small packages, as the old saying goes.

But is it true of ampoules, the K-beauty-inspired pea-sized capsules that house a super concentrated serum?

The unique skincare product has already been embraced by high-end brands, but in 2020 it has shot up trend watch lists as mainstream beauty brands jump on the ampoule bandwagon.

Here’s what you need to know about ampoules and what they offer your skincare routine. 

What exactly is an ampoule?

On first glance, ampoules look like they’d be more at home in your medicine cabinet than your beauty drawer.

So why the capsule?

Skincare expert Fiona Tuck explains that the unique compartment protects it from outside contamination like “bacteria and oxidation”.

“Ampoules are sealed, which helps to preserve the potency of the active ingredients,” she says.

Dermatologist Dr Leona Yip says ampoules also take the guess work out of application.

“Ampoules ensure you won’t be overzealous when using these expensive and highly concentrated serums,” Dr Yip says.

What skin conditions are ampoules good for?

Ampoules are considered the realm of anti-ageing skin care – but Dr Yip explains their uses are more targeted than that general category.

“The skin boosting, highly concentrated ingredients in ampoules address specific skin concerns,” explains Dr Yip.

“For instance, ceramides and hyaluronic acid ampoules are excellent to target dehydrated skin.

“Niacinamide ampoules are anti-inflammatory and soothing, which may help reduce discolouration.

“Ampoules containing retinol, glycolic acid or lactic acid work as ‘skin brighteners’, while ampoules that contain antioxidants like vitamin C target skin discolouration and fine lines.

“There’s also peptide ampoules, which aim to restore skin luminosity by stimulating skin collagen production.”

How do I use ampoules?

Without a lid or nozzle, even the delivery of an ampoule makes it unlike other skincare products.

In some cases, glass vial capsules need to be broken at the tip, while other ampoules have a malleable, rubbery texture that can be pinched open.

Dr Yip says an ampoule should be used immediately and entirely once opened, and applied on to cleansed skin, prior to moisturising but before any other serum (if you’re using them as well).

“The rule of thumb is to layer the product with the thinnest consistency first, and the thickest consistency last,” she says.

Fiona cautions that the potency of the active ingredients in ampoules means any application directives should be followed to the letter.

“Always follow the instructions,” she says. “Some ampoules are designed for daily use while others are meant to be used only in an intensive short course.”

Do I really need to skin ampoules?

In short, no. Dr Yip says if you’re happy with your regular serum then there’s no need to venture into the often more expensive world of ampoules.

“Ampoules are not a necessity – especially if you are already using serums,” she says. “But they are compact and lightweight, making them convenient for travel.”

However, if you’re at a point where drastic skin care action is needed, Fiona advises speaking with an expert to determine if an ampoule formulation could be the answer.

“It’s always recommended to seek advice from a professional skin expert to find out if your skin needs an ampoule product and recommend the best one suited to your skin type,” she says.

Written by Sharon Hunt