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Years ago, skin care was just cleanser, toner and a night cream. Now, a woman can have 24 different products for her face! Korean skin care has introduced a wide range of new products that our Moms never knew of back then. Face Mists, Toners, essence, ampoule: do these skincare vocabs confuse you? Relax, you are not alone!
Getting in to the skincare game today can be intimidating and confusing. To give us one step closer to becoming a skin care genius, let us get ourselves familiar some skin care product vocabulary.
Before we dive in, it is worth noting that there is no strict regulation or standards on how skin care brands name their formulations. Hada labo calls their Retinol Lotion a Lotion despite the fact that it’s way too watery compared to how we think of normal lotions. Throughout the article, I’ll be a little bias here and focus on how COSRX name their products.
Cosrx is a Korean Brand of skin care products. We will be looking at how a Korean brand names their product, which is also slowly being adapted by Western brands.
Cosrx has wide variety of products and they have exhausted all types of product vocab you can think of. Masks, mists, toners, essence, creams name it, they have it. You will see later as we go on how focusing on this brand will give us a better understanding of the different types of product.
The Watery Spectrum: Skin Mists and Toners
For Starters, Skin mists and toners are more watery compared to essence and ampoules. Yup, watery is exactly what it sounds like- it contains more water.
Face Mists are generally products that are formulated so that it’s safe to use multiple times a day. Skin mists contains very mild, skin-conditioning ingredients. So when a skin mist tells you it brightens your skin, don’t expect it to work like a skin-brightening toner.
It is applied as fine mists by spraying on face. Because it is formulated to apply on skin “as needed”, you can use it in middle of the day even with make up on. Fine mists will not run your foundation.
Toners are generally applied using cotton balls or cotton pads. It is designed to wet skin and hydrate it as a preparation for other products. Active ingredients in toners normally doesn’t exceed 10% of its total composition.
There are toners that contain denatured alcohol because it weakens the barrier of your skin and help other products penetrate better. However, it is recommended to avoid toners high in denatured alcohol (especially if it appears first or second on ingredient list) because it may weaken the skin’s protective barrier in the long run.
A good toner does not contain heavy oils which can form oily film on the skin. This oily barrier will make it hard for other products to penetrate. Toners contain mostly of humectants – molecules that draw water into the skin for hydration.
The Thicker Products: Essence and Ampoule
Essence are generally thicker than toners. Active ingredients in essence are more concentrated than toners. For example, Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence contains more Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate than the Galactomyces toner. Some essence are too runny which has to be applied with cotton balls, while some are thick enough to apply with your fingers.
Ampoules (Or Ampules)
Ampoules are oftentimes confused with Serums. These terms are used interchangeably as they both refer to concentrated products that give extra “boost” to the skin. Generally, ampoules contain the least amount of water (others contain no water at all). It usually contains the most amount of hydrating ingredients to minimize risk of irritation due to its very high concentration. Ampoules are easy to identify because they are usually packaged in small containers and usually cost more (in Price per mL).
Though both essence and ampoule contain hydrating properties, both do not perform the same function as the traditional, thick moisturizer that comes in cream-type formulation. Face creams contain more oils that create barrier to keep all the products in. That is why essence and ampoules are usually followed by a thicker moisturizing cream.
A word of caution: with serums or ampoules, more isn’t always better. Because these stuff are so potent, they have their own risk of irritation. Patch test products before applying it in your whole face.
Do I Need Them All?
No. As mentioned earlier, how brands name their product is a matter of marketing placement. With the fast evolving skin care market, brands always find ways to make their products stand out by naming them in a way that it sounds special.
Skin care products should pamper you and not stress you with all the confusing labels. You don’t need to have all types of products. Neither do you need to complete the Korean way of 10-step skin care routine. Figure out what your skin really needs. Don’t worry too much with the labels. Focus on the ingredients and buy those that fits your budget.