The elusive skin care product has many names, Koreans call theirs toners; mist, skin refiners, skin balancer and etc while the Japanese has their own set of naming as well, like softener or lotions. Fortunately in the West toners are just named toners, therefore any skin care products sold, say in the US that ends with the word “toner” just literally means that! All products in these categories share the same vital characteristics as being watery and fluid and among all types of products, one can definitely identify a toner from its texture alone, being so fluid to the point of pure water itself.

These skin care products are commonly applied via facial sprays (hence the name “mist”), thanks to their lightweightedness, for even distribution and easy absorption of the liquid into one’s skin without the need of touching and messing up the make up! Other less convenient methods, includes facial wipes with soft cotton sheets and usage in conjunction with compressed facial masks, which is now believed to be popular among Japanese women.


Ampoules are beauty products normally utilised in any skin care routine for a specific purpose. Typically they contain a much higher concentration of specific components in order for it to be so effective in its role. In terms of texture, it is lightest, therefore having the capability to penetrate into human skin fastest, leading to really effective results in short amounts of time.

Generally ampoules are packaged in the form of vials to prevent and reduce the oxidation rate of its highly reactive ingredients, when come into contact with air and moist, especially in Malaysia.

On aspects of application, ampoules are well known and commonly used among make up artists for bridal wedding day make up. The type of ampoule utilised for such events, normally would be hydrating and “setting” with the goal of ensuring the make-up lasts throughout the whole wedding day or lengthy wedding rituals, especially among Asian families.

Serums, let’s move on to this. It is typically the middle ground between ampoules and essences and comes in the form of capsules. It bears all the middle characteristics between both extremes, including pricing levels and texture.

On its higher properties, serums can be divided into 2 major categories which are water based and oil based. The base liquid determines its usage on different types of skin, for example, a person with a naturally oily skin should never use oil based substances while someone with a dry skin are advised to apply serums from water base for the extra hydration effect. Besides this, some ingredients like vitamin C or retinol or UV prevention components need to be mixed in an oil based serum to trigger the chemical reactions for it to be effective.

In Malaysian beauty markets, brightening, anti aging and pore tightening Serums are among the most sought after, as Asians women puts most priority on having that glowing, fair and silky smooth complexion.

Essence, the final type in this product type family, is the lightest. Containing the least concentration of ingredients, it appears to be light and watery. Many renowned beauty brands have their own terms for essences, for example SKII an international brand, market theirs as Miracle Water while more general names could come by as just “treatment water”.

Application wise, there are really not much differences, it is commonly used for skin brightening, pore control and minimising, and some comes with vitamins (perhaps C or D, E or maybe even K) in it, for general skin repair and improvements. On a final note, essences are not to be mistaken with toners which share resembling characteristics as well!


These 4 skin care products types, are more commonly used to describe and categorise the texture and appearance in terms of thickness of the liquid by Malaysians

Lotions and creams are well known for its thick & oily substances, best used for dry skin and prevention of moisture lost during winter seasons, keeping the skin hydrated avoiding peeling and cracking.

While emulsions (defined as a fine dispersion of mini droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible) works in between creams and gel textures, similar to serums serving as the middle ground.

Finally comes the lightest form of all, gel types, giving one a refreshing and rejuvenating feeling after application. Such skin care product types are best explained via the images below. Notice also its “settling” rate from the pictures. Which one to use? best consult your beautician or skin care physician as different natural skin types and lifestyle play an important deciding factor as usual.


As its name implies this skin care product works as an enhancer, to increase the effectiveness of other products. Obviously used before any other stuff, its very light and most of the time, accelerates the absorption of the coupled product applied into the skin.

Not a compulsory component in most skin care routine, however make-up fanatics and fellow beauty enthusiasts typically prefer to use it before most products, attempting for reaping maximum effects and benefits of their skin care items.


Often a category on its own, this skin care product only exist for very limited brands out there, and not known by many. Literally it’s just water blend or infused with the essence of flowers, or certain perfumes and bio-chemicles to give off that distinct fragrance while sharing the functions of maybe a toner? and generally for moisturizing skin. One can find these more commonly among all natural or organic skin care products or brands due to the simplicity of ingredients within it.


Another on its own class, this gel is basically the substitute for harsh scrubs in skin exfoliating. Exfoliating simply means the removal of the oldest dead skin cells on the skin’s outermost surface, to trigger renewal of cells hence the growth of a layer of new bright, smooth and flawless skin after few cycles of such process. Suggested for women with extra sensitive skins and before using a sheet mask, at night before sleep, which acts as a protective film while the skin repairs itself.


Self explanatory by its name, finishers are the final skin care product used in any routine, to set everything in place (especially after all the art and hard work on the make ups). Modern day finishers do not stop at that, nowadays brands enhanced it to boost the final effect of any make up or skin care further, giving that extra glow on your skin and that flawless silky smooth touch. Carefully designed for such purpose, truly great ones only come in the form of super fine sprays!

In Korea, finishers are becoming a hype as it is said to be the secret “key” for locking and sealing in the whole make up effort and effects of all other skin care products in producing the ultimate dewy and flawless skin as can be seen with all Korean celebrities, (yes even the males!). Now we know how they maintain such complexion throughout movie shoots and their full day! Malaysian girls, quit waiting and go grab your Korean skin care products now!

Read next article : Then what about BB and CC creams?

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