They don’t teach you skincare in school, though it would be nice to receive some kind of guide early on. Staring at walls of products and testing out different formulas takes a large amount of patience, and the mysteries of skincare only seem to grow as products become more advanced. A fairly newer term on the market is ampoule, and it’s frequently mixed up with its close relative, the serum.

For serums and ampoules specifically, the difference lies in their concentrations and how often they should be appear in your lineup (via Fashionista). An ampoule is essentially a more potent serum that’s used on occasion, whereas a serum is a product that can be worked in twice daily. Both have the ability to do things like brighten, tighten, hydrate, protect, nourish, and repair. Don’t panic though if you’ve been mixing them up, because in many instances serums and ampoules can be nearly identical in composition and serve the same purposes (via The Klog).

How to properly use serums and ampoules

When you’re working on creating a personal routine, it’s easy to be mystified by names and purposes of different products. As you sort out each step, the line between them often gets hazier and less black and white. Similarly to ampoules and serums, things like exfoliants and peels or toners and essences are often interrelated or overlap in their uses, but knowing the characteristics of your products can make a huge difference in how your skin benefits.

Because ampoules are viewed as more of a special treatment, you’ll want to incorporate them after cleansing and applying toner and/or essence, but only for a couple of weeks at a time (via The Glow Edit). Serums on the other hand can be part of your routine morning and night and should go on after the wash and tone section of your routine. But, it’s worth noting that the two can be used together — your serum should just come after your ampoule.

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