Here’s why capsules and ampoules are skincare’s next big thing

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Hanna Ibraheem
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Guide to skincare and serum capsules

Capsules are at the forefront of skincare innovation, but which mini game-changer is right for you?

Gone are the days of a jam-packed beauty cabinet, filled with unused products staring back at you. Capsules and ampoules – tiny containers delivering micro-doses of potent ingredients – are set to shake up and, more importantly, slim down your skincare routine.

This unassuming new breed of minis might seem like a gimmick, but these skincare heavyweights – hailing from Korea, of course – have many advantages. No larger than a 10p coin, capsules are packed with powerhouse ingredients. And while using one small product per application may seem wasteful, single-dose packaging can actually be kinder to the environment. Capsules are usually made from biodegradable packaging, which is twisted to open and squeeze out the product, while ampoules are typically made from recyclable glass and dispense formulas through a mess-free dropper system. 

It also means no mucky fingers being dipped in multiple pots and cross-contaminating your precious creams. And not forgetting that scooping up moisturiser from a jar or excessively pumping a serum bottle can lead to product wastage. “Using capsules or ampoules means you’re using a fixed amount of product daily which potentially means you’re using the right amount for best efficacy,” says Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible.

Another benefit is that the packaging is sealed and opaque, adds Dr Mahto. Unstable ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C break down when exposed to light and air, meaning you’re on a time limit from the moment you open that serum bottle or unscrew the lid on your night cream. But capsules and ampoules prevent active ingredients being compromised and ensure consistent applications with every use. Maintaining the potency means they also pack a punch, with higher doses of top-performing ingredients compared with traditional serums.

Elizabeth Arden first launched its iconic Ceramide Gold Capsules in 1990, but now ampoules and capsules are experiencing a resurgence on the high street. Market research firm The NPD Group found that mini heroes have experienced double-digit growth for the past two years. And when L’Oréal Paris launched its Revitalift Filler Ampoules in China last year, it sold 2,000 units within the first minute.

With holiday season fast approaching, there’s no need to lug around heavy jars of creams and serums when you travel; these spill-proof options weigh next to nothing and take up less space than a Missoma necklace.

Scroll down to discover which ones to weave into your skincare routine. You won’t ever look back…

  • Best skincare capsules for fighting pollution

    Eve Lom Age Defying Smoothing Treatment

    This Eve Lom serum is made from an impressive combination of six naturally derived amino acids, which are kept stable in plant-based capsules. The formula guards skin from damage caused by free radicals and harmful rays from the sun.

    £120 for 90 capsules,

  • Best skincare capsules for hydrating

    L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 7 Day Cure Replumping Ampoules

    L’Oréal has brought the power of ampoules to the masses. Inexpensive yet powerful, each individual dose is three times more concentrated in hyaluronic acid than the brand’s Revitalift Filler Renew Day Cream. Use one a day over the course of a week for a thorough treatment, or space out over a month for days when your skin feels particularly parched.

    £19.99 for seven ampoules,

  • Best skincare capsules for boosting radiance

    Beauty Pie Superactive Pure Double Vitamin C and Vitamin E Capsules

    Beauty Pie Superactive Capsules Pure Double Vitamin C & Vitamin E Serum

    Google searches for vitamin C and its complexion-aiding effects have more than doubled since January 2017. Housed in packaging made from red seaweed, these capsules are jam-packed with the wonder ingredient to gently brighten skin, while leaving it smoother. Use one whole capsule on the face and a second for your neck and décolleté.

    £50 for 60 capsules,

  • Best skincare capsules for plumping

    Darphin Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate Capsules

    Darphin Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate

    Retinol can be drying on skin, but these Darphin capsules have added botanical oils such as jojoba, macadamia and argan to provide nourishment for skin. Use it alone on clean skin at night and wake up to a clear, fresh complexion.

    £75 for 60 capsules,

  • Best skincare capsules for brightening

    Exuviance AF Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules 20% Maximum Strength

    Exuviance AF Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules

    A favourite among dermatologists, Exuviance’s serum capsules contain a staggering 20% vitamin C. This powerhouse ingredient works hard to boost collagen, brighten uneven skintone and protect against environmental damage. A skincare hat-trick.

    £59 for 60 capsules,

  • Best skincare capsules for overnight repair

    Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules Capsules

    Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules

    Daily stressors such as pollution, seasonal weather changes and lack of sleep can leave our skin irritated, red and dry. Thankfully, Estée Lauder’s micro-dose capsules work to counter that. Apply after cleansing then head to bed and let them support your skin’s natural nighttime repair cycle.

    £89 for 30ml,

  • Best skincare capsules for tired skin

    Sarah Chapman Skinesis Radiance Recharge System

    Sarah Chapman’s ampoules contain high concentrations of lactic acid, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid that alternate over the course of 10 days to transform fatigued skin. Apply daily before bed in the correct order for the full treatment, or space out by using one every few days depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

    £145 for 10 ampoules,

  • Best skincare capsules for resurfacing

    Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum

    Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum

    The younger sibling to Elizabeth Arden’s cult Gold Ceramide Capsules, the regenerating prowess of these is equally as powerful. The packaging means the ingredients are 76% more potent, so be sure to use SPF the following morning as retinol makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

    £72 for 60 capsules,

Main image: Pixeleyes

Other images: Courtesy of brands


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Hanna Ibraheem

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