When it comes to K-Beauty (or Korean Beauty) the world has a lot to be thankful for. Thanks to K-Beauty we have intensely hydrating sheet masks, brightening overnight packs that fade away excess pigmentation while we sleep, and a multi-step skincare regimen consisting of double-cleansing, essences and boosters. In short, our skin has never had it so good. Single dose skincare—in the form of a sealed ampoule or capsule—is possibly one of the greatest innovations to come out of the region. You might be familiar with the format; a small glass vial or soft-skin capsule that, once open, dispenses the exact amount of product you need to apply at one time. You could say Elizabeth Arden was the original purveyor, their cult Advanced Ceramide Capsules launched way back in 1990, but now, almost 30 years later, ampoules and capsules are dominating the skincare market. Case in point, when L’Oréal Paris launched their Revitalift Filler—singled-dose concentrated shots of hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid, dubbed “the seven-day cure”—in China in 2018, they sold 2,000 units in just a minute.
Mini-doses serve a purpose beyond looking cute in our beauty bags. Weighing in comfortably under 100ml, the packaging is ideal for flying with hand luggage. Plus, as each ampoule only comes into contact with bacteria when they’re being used, they’re super hygienic and ideal for acne-prone and sensitised skin. However, the true genius of the packaging lies in its ability to keep contents potent and effective. This is particularly useful for ingredients like vitamin C (which helps to brighten skin and fade pigmentation) and retinol (a derivative of vitamin A, which helps to speed up cell-turnover to soften lines and texture), as so much of their potency is lost when they come into contact with sunlight and air.
Marisa Dufort, director of speciality beauty product development and ingredient innovation at Johnson & Johnson, explains, “Vitamin C has long been a go-to topical treatment, but many formulas have been ineffective as they lose potency once opened. Vitamin C is far more efficient in capsule form than in a liquid because it is protected against air and light that would otherwise cause the L-ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) to break down.”
Decanting these highly volatile ingredients into a capsule or an ampoule essentially means that it is at its most potent when it hits the skin; just twist the membrane or snap the top to open and apply directly. It also means that you’re using the exact amount your skin needs and you’re cutting back on packaging, as most capsule skins are biodegradable and ampoules are recyclable.
As for the skincare to spend your money on, Voguerecommends:
For brightening: Each of the Exuviance AF 20% Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules contains the exact daily dose of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) required to encourage skin to produce more collagen and fade dark spots. While Beauty Pie Superactive Capsules Pure Double Vitamin C & Vitamin E combine vitamin C with fellow antioxidant vitamin E, to comfort as they brighten.
For antiageing: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum deliver a precise shot of retinol to refine and plump skin while you sleep.
For hydration: Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Ampoules serve up both short-chain and long-chain hyaluronic acid molecules to restore moisture levels to the skin’s surface and boost hydration at a deeper level. Next up; Beauty Pie Superactive Capsules Hyaluronic Acid & Biopeptide Microspheres combine high doses of stable hyaluronic acid microspheres, pentapeptide 8 and tetrapeptide 8 to stimulate fibroblast activity, ie. encouraging the skin to produce more collagen.
For overnight skin recovery: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules are a favourite among skincare obsessives because they help to calm stressed skin and boost the overnight repair process.
And for non-capsule products, how much should you use?
One of the great benefits of single-dose skincare is you only use what your skin needs, with zero wastage. Unfortunately, not everything comes in a prescribed dose, so here’s how much you should be using of everything else.
Cleanser: Whether you are using a gel, cream or balm-based cleanser, a small coin-sized amount of product should do. This will give your skin enough ‘slip’ to allow for a proper cleanse; and if you feel you need it, repeat this step for a double cleanse.
Chemical exfoliator: Every exfoliator is formulated with different ratios and concentrations of acids, so be sure to follow the instructions exactly. Or, use a daily peel pad that comes pre-saturated with the correct amount of product.
Serum: You need a pea-sized amount. Any more, and you run the risk of inciting sensitivity if the ingredients are particularly active, plus your skin is only receptive to so much. Adding more won’t give you better results.
Eye cream: A pea-sized amount is plenty here too, any more and you can actually make puffiness worse.
Moisturiser: The best way to gauge the correct amount of moisturiser is it to use your ring finger to dab two pinches onto your forehead, one on each cheek and one on your nose. If your skin is particularly dry, a further dab onto your nose is a good idea.
SPF: Skincancer.org recommend using approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimetre of skin. This works out at around two tablespoons for the body and a larger coin-sized amount for the face.