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Ampoules Are Basically Supercharged Serums, and These Are My 6 Favorites

Different brands of amoules (serums) — The Strategist reviews skin care
Lots of ampoules. Photo: Courtesy of the vendors.

When I recently updated my skin care “Google doc,” I added a whole new category: ampoules. Ampoules are a staple in the ten-Step K-Beauty skin-care routine, but they weren’t included in my original skin-care story for the simple reason that I hadn’t yet tried enough I really liked. And some people seemed shocked by the addition. After my new skin-care routine went live, I received questions and comments en masse: What exactly is an ampoule? How should I integrate ampoules into my daily routine? A quick internal poll among the Strat edit team — people who basically shop for a living — revealed a similar level of confusion. So here we are.

Ampoules are essentially supercharged serums: highly concentrated potions to use as special remedy when your skin is really in need of some extra, intensive treatment. In my routine, I use an ampoule right before I apply my serum. How often one should use ampoules depends on your skin, but I tend to use them every day, for three days, when my skin is battling particularly brutal breakouts or extreme dryness, or just once a week for a little boost. Much like serums, there’s an ampoule for every kind of skin concern. So to help guide you through the world of ampoules, here’s a list of some of my all time favorites — not including the two I listed in my Google doc — organized according to different concerns.

Best ampoule for hydrating

This past winter, I relied on this hydrating B5 ampoule from Leegeeham. It’s packed with five different hyaluronic acids, so it’s basically like pumping nourishment and moisture directly into your skin. I use this ampoule once a week during the worst winter months (I know that seems far away, but it’ll be here sooner than you think). I’ve also put a few drops of this in my moisturizer when I want an extra kick.

Best ampoule for smoothing

Whenever my skin is feeling kind of rough and bumpy, I love using this Cellum Amaid ampoule. It’s packed with fermented ingredients (just like the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence) to brighten, soften, and promote cell renewal. This do-it-all ampoule is something I would definitely recommend for skin-care newbies — you’ll notice a difference in texture and in the complexion of your skin after only a few uses.

Best ampoule for brightening

I love when skin care comes in pad form. I feel like it’s the best way to distribute product across your skin quickly and efficiently. These pads contain a cocktail of 10 percent Vitamin C as well as nourishing oils, so your skin is getting nourishment in addition to the brightening effects of Vitamin C. If you’re skin is looking dull and tired, this is the perfect ampoule for a pick-me-up.

Best ampoule for anti-aging

This product is incredible at giving skin that plump, radiant effect we’re all after. There’s a key ingredient in this ampoule called Bifida Ferment, which is essentially a kind of fermented yeast that works wonders on wrinkles, fine lines, and generally reducing the effects of aging. This product is great for getting ultra-bouncy, youthful-looking skin.

Best ampoule for healing

By now I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about just how incredible snail mucin can be for your skin. But one more time: this snail-based ampoule is extraordinarily healing and hydrating on the skin. If you’ve picked at your skin, or if you’re trying to quickly heal any old blemishes, this product is great at speeding up the process.

Best ampoule for breakouts