Ais­ling Keenan in­ves­ti­gates whether skin­care cap­sules and am­poules are worth the hype

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I’m al­ways on high alert when it comes to skin­care. Skep­ti­cal and ever-ready to spot, and run from, a gim­mick, I am equally prepped to sprint towards a gen­uine in­no­va­tion that will level-up my rou­tine and give my skin the edge.

When I first read about these sin­gleuse cap­sules and am­poules, filled with su­per-con­cen­trated serums, they promised a lot. Shock­ing to ab­so­lutely no one, I was cer­tain I was wit­ness­ing a gim­mick. Tiny pods of prod­uct that pack a pow­er­ful ac­tive in­gre­di­ent punch sounded like the dream ad­di­tion to my rou­tine, but would they re­ally work and be worth the spend? To make sure I wasn’t be­ing hood­winked, I started tri­alling and in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

I won’t lie, I no­ticed my skin felt bet­ter, looked more glow­ing, and was re­li­ably plump when I used the var­i­ous am­poules or cap­sules, and I used them on days when my skin was par­tic­u­larly crav­ing a spe­cific boost. But I never re­ally un­der­stood why a cap­sule with vi­ta­min C was giv­ing more im­me­di­ate re­sults than my al­ter­na­tive serums.


Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin Nerd, is one of Ire­land’s most re­spected names in skin­care. I asked her what the rea­son­ing be­hind ap­ply­ing prod­uct di­rectly from cap­sules is. “There are two main pur­poses of am­poules or addin cap­sules in skin­care: to keep the in­gre­di­ents fresh and sta­ble, and to al­low an eas­ily cus­tomis­able skin­care ex­pe­ri­ence.

Some­times, the am­poules we see are a lit­tle gim­micky be­cause not all in­gre­di­ents need to be en­cased in tiny pack­ag­ing, but there is some­thing clas­si­cally fun about them, and I be­lieve skin­care should be fun,” says Jennifer.

More tech­ni­cally, cer­tain in­gre­di­ents like vi­ta­min C (ascor­bic acid) and vi­ta­min A can be al­tered by light, air and wa­ter mol­e­cules get­ting in there. “If we put prod­ucts into sin­gle-use, fully-sealed pack­ag­ing, such as glass am­poules or cap­sules, it means that each time you use the prod­uct, it won’t be com­pro­mised by the in­tro­duc­tion of air,” ex­plains Jen. “Oxy­gen can cause cer­tain in­gre­di­ents to be­come less sta­ble. This doesn’t mean that the in­gre­di­ent will cause dam­age, but it does mean that it be­comes less ef­fec­tive. This is the same rea­son that com­pa­nies pack­age serums, cleansers and masks in air­less pumps.”


While am­poules and cap­sules are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar in Ire­land and the UK, they have been a ma­jor player in the Korean beauty arena for many years. Dawn Hill from Flo­rai­son ( @flo­raison_ie) is one of Ire­land’s fore­most fa­cial­ists. She says the love-in with cap­sules and am­poules hap­pen­ing right now is a nat­u­ral next step as we fol­low Korean beauty trends here in Ire­land. “Cap­sules and am­poules are a K-Beauty and French skin­care trend, and have been huge in their re­spec­tive coun­tries for years. We’re slowly fol­low­ing suit. First it was essences, then sheet masks, and now am­poules. Ev­ery­one is look­ing for that glowy, glass-like skin, and am­poules prom­ise to give that glow.”

How­ever, I wanted to know how es­sen­tial they are. I was happy to use them oc­ca­sion­ally, but the price is some­what pro­hib­i­tive. Dawn says they’re not meant as a daily dose type of prod­uct. “The beauty mar­ket is sat­u­rated with ex­cel­lent prod­ucts for the skin, rang­ing from treat­ment ton­ers to per­for­mance-driven serums,” Dawn ex­plains. “Skin­care works a lot harder now than be­fore. So am­poules, in my opin­ion, are great as a treat for the skin, used be­fore a big event or a cou­ple of times a year, but es­sen­tial? Prob­a­bly not.”


Some­thing I have al­ways loved about am­poules and cap­sules is the lack of cross-con­tam­i­na­tion worry – I’m a divil for stress­ing about un­wanted germs. As well as that, us­ing cap­sules or am­poules also means you’re us­ing a fixed amount of prod­uct, which gen­er­ally means you’re us­ing the right and in­tended amount for best re­sults and ef­fi­cacy, and min­imis­ing waste.

So as well as cap­sules pre­vent­ing ac­tive in­gre­di­ents be­ing com­pro­mised and main­tain­ing the po­tency, they are tiny and travel ex­tremely well. In­stead of hav­ing to bring your en­tire bot­tle of €60 or €70 serum along with you when you travel for a night, or even a fort­night, you can pack the req­ui­site amount of cap­sules and know that your ac­tive in­gre­di­ents will still pack a punch when you’re away.

“Tiny pods that pack a pow­er­ful ac­tive in­gre­di­ent punch sounded like the dream, but would they work and be worth the spend?”

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