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Meet Emulsions: What They Are and Who They’re Great For

Ampoules, emulsions, essences, oils - there’s a new moisturizing product pretty much every time you walk down a beauty aisle, and many of these hot new formulas promise maximum hydration, tons of nutrients, and an overall fresh-from-the-gym glow.

But which one will actually work for you and your skin type? 

One option that you should consider incorporating is an emulsion. Here’s what they are and why you should consider adding them to your routine.

Emulsions: The Basics

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In the skincare industry, the word emulsion is used to describe a lightweight, water-based moisturizer that provides the hydration of a cream or a serum without the heavy, greasy feeling of some thicker formulas.

Here’s how it usually works. Looking at the science, an emulsion is a mixture of products that don’tdissolve in one another - with a classic example being oil and vinegar. Most emulsions on the skincare market are oil suspended in water, and the ingredients are stuck together by some kind of emulsifier (like polysorbate 60, cetearyl alcohol, and glyceryl stearate).

These light-but-effective water-based formulas are great for any skin type because they’re generally lighter and thinner than other formulas, and they can soak more effectively into the skin rather than sitting on top. This makes them particularly effective for people - like those with oily, acne-prone, or mature skin - who want to moisturize without congesting their skin.

Overall benefits of emulsions include:

Types of Emulsions

As with any skincare product, there are different types of emulsions to target specific concerns.

For example:

  • Acne-prone individuals or those with combination skin may choose formulas that target oil, congestion, or excess sebum. That means looking for with salicylic or glycolic acid.
  • Those with dry skinmay choose those with humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
  • People with oily skincan use emulsions as a final moisturizing step.
  • People with normal skincan use a classic emulsion to balance, soothe, and hydrate skin.

How to Incorporate Emulsions Into Your Routine

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If you have oily skin, you can use an emulsion as your primary moisturizer. If you have dry or combination skin, however, you can use it in addition to your moisturizer or night cream of choice. Since the formula is thin and light you won’t feel like you have congestion or product buildup.

That said, you have to make sure to apply the products in the right order. As a rule of thumb, emulsions should be applied as one of the final steps of your skincare routine as a way to lock in any other active ingredients that you’re using.

That means they should be applied after things like antioxidants, retinols, serums, or vitamin C, but before a thicker moisturizer, cream, or sunscreen. Apply it in the wrong order and you won’t get all of the benefits for your skin.

Either way, emulsions can add an extra layer of hydration and nourishment to any skincare routine.