Skin Perception

Face Emulsion: How To Use & Best Emulsion For Face

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Face emulsion is considered a hero product in K-Beauty routine, but often there is a confusion regarding how and when to use them.

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Wondering what a face emulsion is and how to you use it in your skin care routine? You are not alone. Even though emulsions might not be well established in the U.S. beauty market yet, but they have been a staple in Korean skincare routine for years. Moreover, if you have oily, combination or acne prone skin type, or if you live in hot and humid climate, face emulsion might become your new go-to beauty product.

What Is Face Emulsion?

Face emulsion is a water-based lightweight moisturizer that is lighter in texture than lotion and cream. It has thin, fluid-like consistency that somewhat resembles liquid form, and the texture that is somewhat between serum and lotion. Due to the lightweight non-greasy and non-sticky consistency and high water content, it absorbs faster and easily into the skin. Additionally, emulsion doesn’t clog pores due to its lighter formula.

Also, since face emulsion is high in water content (about 70%), its main purpose is to replenish water content within the skin cells, prevent moisture loss, relieve skin dryness and provide intense hydration. Overall, it works better for those with oily, acne-prone, combination and dehydrated skin (not to confused with dry skin*). In addition, it’s great moisturizing option for those living in humid climates and during hot summer weather.

  •   dehydrated skin > lacks water
  •   dry skin > lacks oils

When To Use Emulsion?

Contrary to popular belief, emulsion doesn’t replace serum. Since face emulsion is the lightest type of the moisturizer, it should be treated as a face cream/moisturizer and applied after facial serum.

Not only emulsion cream can be used to address various skin needs, but also to target several skin issues.

That is to say, those with combination and oily skin can use face emulsion instead of face cream as a final moisturizing step. It will allow keep skin hydrated without making it feel greasy and heavy.

If you have normal skin type but live in humid climate, you might benefit from switching to face emulsion during hot months.

And those with dry, mature, dehydrated and thirsty skin can use face emulsion as in-between product and layer it under regular moisturizer as an extra hydration step.

Toner > Serum > Emulsion > Moisturizer (optional)

Best Emulsion For Face

Some of the best emulsions for face include few light natural oils, skin soothing agents, and water-attracting ingredients (aka humectants) like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, glycerin, panthenol (provitamin B5), gelatin, rice proteins, sorbitol and honey. The following product review includes our top selection of the best hydrating emulsions formulated for various skin types.

Green tea emulsion
IsNtree Green Tea Fresh Emulsion

Korean skincare emulsion that balances oil production, soothes irritation and redness, and hydrates skin. This face emulsion contains mineral and vitamin rich ingredients like organic green tea from Jeju (5%), willow bark, ginkgo tree leaf, blueberry extracts, evening primrose extract, and others. Not only it is fragrance-free, but also its natural plant-based formula has silky, light and non-sticky texture and doesn’t clog pores.

Best for acne-prone, oily, combination and sensitive skin types. Made in Korea.  

Green apple brightening moisturizer
Juice Beauty Brightening Emulsion

This brightening face emulsion designed to balance skin’s moisture levels, promote even skin tone, improve skin texture, and brighten the complexion. It is formulated with fruit derived alpha/beta hydroxy acids, CoQ10, DMAE, vitamin E & C, antioxidants, squalane derived from olives, jojoba and avocado oils, and many other natural and certified organic ingredients.

Overall, it can be used by all skin types except sensitive. However, this vegan emulsion will benefit the most those with uneven skin tone, discoloration, dark spots, or dull complexion. Made in the USA.   

Glo Skin Beauty Oil Control Emulsion

Formulated with non-drying sebum absorbing agents, this ultra light face emulsion reduces shine, mattifies, controls oil production and balances skin. In addition to sebum absorbing ingredients, it includes hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, aloe, niacinamide, honeysuckle flower extract, and antioxidants.

Best for oily and acne-prone skin. Made in the USA.

enzyme moisturizer
Epicuren Discovery Facial Emulsion/ Enzyme Moisturizer

This professional skincare daily moisturizing emulsion hydrates, nourishes, gently exfoliates, targets blemishes, calms problematic and stressed skin, improves skin elasticity and skin tone. It is packed with skin nourishing ingredients like collagen, lactic acid, metadermabolic enzyme complex, amino acids, biotin, antioxidants and vitamins.

All in all, this lightweight hydrating formula will work the best for normal to combination skin types. Made in the USA.

Avene Hydrance LIGHT Hydrating Emulsion

Even though this face emulsion is light, it provides boost of hydration, absorbs excess sebum, prevents water loss, and restores skin’s protective barrier. Moreover, the encapsulated smooth formula provides time-releasing 24-hour hydration, while Avene thermal spring water soothes the skin, and patented Cohederm complex restores and replenishes skin.

Overall, this hypoallergenic formula will benefit the most those with normal, combination, dehydrated and sensitive skin. Made in France.   

Le Mieux Essence Moisturizer - Anti Aging Emulsion

This peptide-infused anti aging face emulsion targets signs of aging and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves skin firmness, hydrates, softens and renews. It is packed with potent ingredients like hyaluronic acid, multi peptides, ceramides, shea butter, marine collage, algae, green tea, and other antioxidants.

Works best for dry, mature, normal, combination, and sensitive skin. Made in the USA.

iS clinical face emulsion
iS CLINICAL Reparative Moisture Emulsion

Yes, this face emulsion is expensive, but it provides intensive treatment and is formulated with powerful pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. This reparative active product is designed to rejuvenate, hydrate, protect, plump, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin health. Some of the key potent ingredients include peptides, hyaluronic acid, squalane, antioxidants, enzymes, marine extracts, and other botanicals.

This high-end product can be used by all skin types including sensitive. Made in the USA.

The Face Shop The Therapy Hydrating Emulsion

This nourishing lightweight moisturizer hydrates, restores skin barrier, provides anti aging benefits and leaves skin soft and clear. Additionally, this formula is created using hand-made blending technique. Some of the active ingredients include oats, honey, lavender, wild rose, sweet basil, and olive leaf extract. This Korean skincare staple is suitable for all skin types. Made in Korea.

Bare minerals smoothing moisturizer
bareMinerals Smart Combination Smoothing Emulsion

Formulated for normal to combination skin types, this smoothing emulsion increases moisture levels within skin cells, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, softens rough texture, and leaves skin radiant. It is formulated with potent anti aging ingredients like multi peptides, ceramides, amino acids, squalane, algae, hyaluronic acid, urea, and others. Made in the USA.

Skin Food Premium Cotton Emulsion

This emulsion replenishes water, balances oil production, helps prevent acne, calms irritation, mattifies shiny skin, and makes it smooth. As a main active ingredient it contains 10% peach fruit extract that is rich in vitamins A, C, and antioxidants. Also, it’s infused with purslane extract full of antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids, and calamine powder that targets oiliness.

Best for acne-prone and oily skin. Made in Korea.

Benefits Of Emulsion

Overall, all skin types can benefit from using face emulsion depending on the specific formulation and time of the year/climate. That is to say, emulsion combines the benefits of a moisturizing cream with the hydrating properties of a hydrator. Also, since emulsion is water-based skincare product, it’s non-comedogenic and is less likely to cause pore clogging issues like blackheads and white heads.

This type of cosmetic product benefits the most those with dehydrated and thirsty skin, oily complexion, excess sebum productionloss of moisture, skin irritation, and as lighter moisturizer alternative in humid climates and during hot summer days.

  • Provides intense hydration
  • Doesn’t clog pores (non-comedogenic)
  • Replenishes skin’s water content
  • Restores skin’s protective barrier
  • Locks in moisture
  • Absorbs quickly

Face Emulsion Vs Lotion Vs Cream

Firstly, let’s clarify that moisturizer is a general term referred to all skincare products that lubricate, like creams, gels, emulsions and lotions. These moisturizing skin care products create protective barrier layer and lock moisture in your skin. The main ingredients in a moisturizer are water and oils, and the texture depends on the percentage of water in it.


However, be aware that some brands can label everyday cream as a “moisturizer”. That being said, face emulsion, lotion and cream are all different types of moisturizers that differ in texture and water/oil content.

Face emulsion is the lightest of all moisturizers. Moreover, it is very similar to facial lotion, but is slightly lighter in texture. Since it is high in water content (about 70%), it has fluid-like consistency and can be somewhat runny.

Similar to emulsion, face lotion is also a lightweight moisturizer with a fluid consistency. However, in comparison to face emulsion, lotion is formulated with slightly lower water content (65%) and slightly higher percentage of oils. To sum up, both face emulsion and lotion are lighter version of moisturizer, and have lightweight non-greasy texture, spread easily and get absorbed fast by skin. These types of moisturizers are best for normal, dehydrated, combination, oily, acne-prone skin, and especially for hot and humid climates.

On the other hand, face cream/moisturizer has thicker cream-like texture, and is richer than lotion and emulsion. Also, creams may be slightly greasy due to the higher percentage of oils in them. Facial creams are often labeled as day/AM creams and night/PM creams. The main difference is that daytime moisturizer is formulated to protect skin from the sun and pollutants, while night cream restores and repairs skin. In general, creams are recommended for normal, dry, dehydrated and mature skin, and for moderate temperatures and drier climates.



Hodulik, G. “Inside-out/outside-in skin hydration.”

“Moisturizers: options for softer skin.” Mayo Clinic.

Pike C. “4 signs your skin is dehydrated & how to fix it.”

Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra SK, Gambhir ML. “Moisturizers: the slippery road.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-Jun 2016, Vol. 61, Issue 3

Travers R. “Why moisturize?”

Verdier‐Sévrain S, Bonté F. “Skin hydration: a review on its molecular mechanisms”. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007, Vol. 6: 75-82.

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