If you haven’t yet jumped on the Korean skincare train, you’re missing out on an entire realm of miracle-working gems. Their approach to beauty products is built around care for the moisture barrier, implementing healing elements that American cosmetics may fall short on.
But as we mentioned earlier, it is a whole new world of products and one that may be overwhelming to maneuver. Dip your toe in the water by introducing one or two items into your routine to start. Our recommendation for K-skincare novices? A vitamin C serum.
So what are the best Korean vitamin C serums? Moisturizing ingredients are something to look out for, such as hyaluronic acid, as well as ingredients that target personal skin concerns, like aging. Ensuring that your product is lightweight can prevent irritation and breakouts for sensitive skin.
The differences between American vitamin C serums and Korean ones may seem minute, but it’s the nuances that make the latter special. Here, find our top picks for the best Korean vitamin C serums you can get your hands on today.
Features Of A Good Serum
As previously mentioned, Korean skincare hones in on your skin barrier, focusing on rebuilding it to its natural resiliency. It’s a focus that may seem counter-productive at first – why heal the barrier instead of focusing on the issue at hand?
But dealing with the skin barrier ensures that the issues you’re trying to rid of don’t rear their heads again. When your skin’s natural defense system is working as it should, it can properly protect your skin from aggressors like the sun, bacteria, and environmental pressures.
This healing approach is especially vital in products like vitamin C, as such formulas increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
The brightening, dark-spot fading, complexion evening benefits of the serum would be obsolete without the help of moisturizing additives, making hydrating ingredients an unskippable feature of a good serum.
When formulating your skincare routine, one becomes nothing short of an expert on their individual skin type. You’ll know if your skin is acne-prone, dry, sensitive, mature, and the list goes on and on.
Depending on how many concerns you have, the cabinet space in your bathroom may be cluttered with a slew of different products.
Unfortunately, having more than 5 core products in your daily regime can be wreaking havoc on your skin, even if you’re doing it with the best intentions. Because of that, we recommend finding products that target 2 or more of your skin woes, that way you can hit two birds with one stone, er, serum.
Luckily, vitamin C serums are known for their hefty list of benefits. Due to their masterful multitasking abilities, it shouldn’t be difficult to find one that can aid in one or more skin issues you may be facing. Among the most popular benefits of these serums include anti-aging and acne scar fading features.
While Korean skincare tends to be gentler on the skin, trying out a new product can still cause adverse reactions. vitamin C is a product that promotes skin cell turnover, so adding one to your routine can help bring under-the-skin spots to the surface as blackheads, whiteheads, etc.
But purging the skin differs greatly from irritation. If using a serum is accompanied by dry, flaky, hot, itchy skin, stop use immediately, and always ensure that you do a patch test as a preventative measure.
To avoid the probability of these situations, opt for a serum that has a clean, natural ingredient list and/or a delicate formula. These tend to sit lighter on the skin (while still getting the job done) and are gentler overall.
Best Korean Vitamin C Serums
|1.||SeoulCeuticals Vitamin C Serum||Hydrating formula, anti-aging and anti-wrinkle, pore shrinking|
|2.||[SKIN&LAB] Vitamin C Brightening Serum||Glass skin benefits, collagen, ultra-moisturizing|
|3.||dear, klairs Pure Vitamin C Drops||Daily use, super lightweight, sensitive-skin friendly|
|4.||Goodal Green Tangerine Serum||Targets hyperpigmentation, 70% green tangerine extract, 2-week results|
|5.||Meebak Seoul Vitamin C Serum||Soothes sensitive skin, niacinamide, cruelty-free|
|6.||HYEJA Premium Vitamin C Serum||Vegan/clean ingredients, Yuzu extract base, anti-aging and brightening|
|7.||I Dew Care Bright Side Up Serum||Jelly based, non-sticky formula, vegan brand|
|8.||Yeouth Vitamin C&E Serum||Protects against free radicals, works with all skin types, vitamin E|
|9.||Peach & Lily Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment||20% vitamin C, nourishing oil-based ingredients, Leaping Bunny certification|
1. SeoulCeuticals Vitamin C Serum
There’s no question why this formula is the most popular result when searching for Korean vitamin C serums. It’s potent, gentle, and compatible with most skin types, earning it a place in the holy grail routines of people worldwide.
This serum’s clean ingredient list rivals those of pricier competitors, and since it comes in at under $20, adding it to your shopping cart requires little to no thought.
Somehow, this formula debunks the idea that it’s impossible to reverse signs of aging. Through a cocktail of ferulic acid and vitamin C, your skin can fight off free radicals more than ever before, drastically reducing signs of maturity.
The earlier in life you introduce this vit C serum to your routine, the better, as you can slow signs of aging down before they even begin.
But even if you’re still young and wrinkle-free, you’ll still find other reasons to fall in love with this formula. Specifically, the acne-fighting and skin brightening properties.
We all know how difficult it is to get rid of hyperpigmentation from acne. It lengthens the trek to clear skin by an indefinite amount but adding this serum to your regime can take the weight off your shoulders.
Vitamin C is best used in the daytime, as it can help fight off UV rays and sun damage. Makeup wearers know the struggles of having a lengthy morning routine, as some products can change the look of your cosmetics. SkinCeuticals didn’t leave this problem in our hands, as their formulation sits flawlessly under your favorite makeup products.
2. [SKIN&LAB] Vitamin C Brightening Serum
For those familiar with Korean skincare products, you may also know of the term “glass skin,” which is used to describe skin so glowy and clear that it’s almost translucent and reflective – like a shard of glass.
Though skin of that clarity may sound impossible to achieve, it’s products like this one that make glass skin a very attainable look.
Dermatologist tested and compatible with all skin types, this serum is a cure-all for a catalogue full of skin concerns. Dull skin? Buy this serum. Droopy eyebags? Buy this serum. Dry skin? You guessed it. Buy. This. Serum.
We are fully aware of how dramatic this sounds, and we wouldn’t blame you if you thought we were exaggerating, but the truth stands. This serum was artfully constructed with a list of extraordinary ingredients that pump your skin full of the good stuff, and none of the filler (parabens, fragrance, sulfates).
When it comes to rockstar ingredients, a notable additive has to be collagen, which assists in plumping up the skin and improving the look of fine lines and wrinkles. For a lot of us, that addition is enough to make this serum an instant buy, but [SKIN&LAB] doesn’t stop there.
Hyaluronic acid provides a soothing, moisturizing layer to this brightening serum, while the addition of vitamin B5 works in tandem with vitamin C to even out skin texture and tone.
The true star of the show, and the feature that earned this serum a place on our list, is the 15% Vita Energy Complex, which target dry skin and nurture it back to its bouncy, dewy self. Over time, this formula tightens skin and keeps you looking youthful and vibrant.
3. Dear, Klairs Pure Vitamin C Drops
Having a truly “normal” skin type is a rarity on the planet, as it’s likely that your skin leans more towards the dry or oily side.
For combo to oily skin types, finding gentle serums can prevent your skin from over-producing oils, and they also won’t add on to the feel of your skin’s natural oil.
Clocking in at only 5% vitamin C, consider this serum the beginner’s course into the world of brightening skincare.
While the vitamin C content ranks on the lower end of the percentage spectrum, it is a stable, potent enough formula to prove effective on your skin.
It’s low percentage point makes it safe enough to use on a daily basis, but due to its non-aggressive nature, it’s unlikely to cause any irritation or adverse reactions, making it a sensible choice for those with sensitive skin types.
Arguably the most notable part of this formula is how it works with the warmth of your skin. To get the most out of this product, you’re instructed to emulsify 3-4 drops of the serum in your hands before gently patting it into your face.
The emulsification warms the product, making its formula more effective, and also allows the serum to dry down matte on your skin. Not only does this assist those with over-oily skin types, but it also preps the skin for cosmetic application as well.
The oil-free finish is part of the serum’s easy absorption into the skin. Once it dries down matte, you’ll know that the product is actively working its magic.
4. Goodal Green Tangerine Serum
Finding a naturally derived ingredient list may be difficult for other products, but the world will likely never be in a shortage of citrus fruits – which is where a bulk of the planet’s natural vitamin C supply lies.
Rest easy knowing that all of the vitamin C goodness that you’re applying to your face was borne from the gorgeous green tangerine, the most skin-friendly fruit you can find on the trees.
This formula penetrates deep beneath the surface of the skin, so while it works to clear visible blemishes, it’s also correcting the layers underneath your skin and ensuring that those pests don’t have the chance to surface anyway!
Because it harvests the power of natural fruit vitamins, the non-synthetic formula contains 70% green tangerine extract, making it a potent, yet gentle formula.
Somehow, this solution meshes the best of both worlds: a strong, effective serum, that doesn’t wreak havoc on sensitive skin. It’s so gentle in fact, that Goodal claims you can use this twice a day (AM/PM).
While we wish a brand came out with an overnight acting vit-C serum, we can find peace with the fact that this serum can prove effective in as quickly as 2 weeks.
It almost sounds too good to be true- a serum that can lighten dark spots, clear blemishes, fill in wrinkles, and brighten a dull skin tone in less than a month? And it’s less than $20? Yes please.
5. Meebak Seoul Vitamin C Serum
Angry, painful skin is difficult to deal with as is, but finding products that don’t further irritate it may be a whole new journey on its own.
If your skin is regularly painful or inflamed to the touch, it’s imperative to find ultra-nourishing and soothing ingredients- like cica.
Centella Asiatica, more commonly known as cica, is a naturally derived plant-based ingredient revered for its healing and soothing properties.
It can neutralize red skin, regulate oil production, and help aid in your skin’s cell renewal process. It’s the perfect ingredient to help rebuild a damaged moisture barrier, so we highly recommend it to those with angry skin they can’t seem to get to the root of.
Not only does it boast incredible healing properties, but this serum is also suited for those dealing with under-the-skin texture they can’t exfoliate away. Due to an increase in cell turnover, this serum will lift those pesky spots to the surface of your skin, gently sloughing them away over continued use. You have the vitamin C and niacinamide to thank for that.
In terms of the secret ingredients that really take this product to “best serum” standards are the additions of adeonsine and panthenol, which replenish and heal lost or damaged skin cells, respectively. Adenosine in particular can correct the look of fine lines and wrinkles while also preventing them from returning.
6. HYEJA Premium Vitamin C Serum
There’s something about skincare in amber bottles that makes the product inside seem especially medicinal. It may be a placebo for other brands, but we can attest that HYEJA is the real deal.
If you’re not familiar with Yuzu, it’s a citrus fruit found in East Asia. It’s known for its uniquely sour taste, commonly thought of as the lovechild between a grapefruit, lime, and lemon.
While it can be consumed, they can also be cultivated for their skin-friendly benefits due to their richness in vitamin C.
Due to its natural derivate, this serum contains 63.5% vitamin C extracts from Yuzu, the next content of ingredient being green tea (a natural soothing, anti-redness agent).
The rest of the ingredient list? Niacinamide and vitamin E, working together to enrich and heal the skin, evening tone and texture.
Because of its short ingredient list and meticulous formulation, there’s no doubt that this is serum holds the cleanest formula of those on this list. Since it’s entirely naturally derived, it’s also completely vegan and safe for just about every skin type.
But don’t take our word for it! This serum is so beloved that it is 100% approved by the Eve Vegan Institute in France, a certification that ensures you’re only putting the highest quality ingredients on your face.
7. I Dew Care Bright Side Up Serum
Looking for an up-and-coming Korean brand to introduce to your skincare routine? I Dew Care is dedicated to making seriously cute, seriously effective skincare – and their vitamin C serum showcases that incredibly well.
Not only is the packaging adorable, but the jelly formula moisturizes and plumps the skin- perfect for those with fine lines, wrinkles, or those who like a dewier look for their makeup.
We definitely recommend this serum to those looking for a no-frills formula. Those with normal, non-sensitive skin types will fall in love with the brightening finish and radiant look to surface of the skin.
We especially love this serum for students who have to wake up early to get to class- you can look awake, even if you’re a little low on Z’s.
Additional ingredients include grapefruit, which provide the skin with that awe-inspiring glow, vitamin C derivative, which stabilize the formula and give it a long-lasting shelf life, niacinamide, to improve skin texture, and panthenol and vitamin E, which soothes and moisturizes a dry or irritated face.
Formulated without parabens, sulfates, and unpronounceable chemicals, this serum has a fast-absorbing, non-sticky texture, making it perfect for daily AM use, especially for those who find themselves rushing in the morning!
8. Yeouth Vitamin C&E Serum
Dry skin can be a hassle to deal with. You have to be particular about the products you purchase and lean towards hydrating formulas that can also protect from potential aggressors.
With that in mind, a vitamin C formula that can moisturize and shield can work literal wonders on your skin.
The main moisturizers of this formula are the hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture into your skin, and the vitamin E, which helps defend the skin from drying elements like too cold weather.
But of course, when it comes to a vitamin C serum, the product is only as good as the quality of the vitamin C itself! Luckily, this serum was formulated with medical-grade ingredients, making it an easy, effective choice to add to your cart.
While incredibly potent, what makes this formula unique is its ability to be paired with physical skincare tools. You can use this with a dermapen or microneedle roller for increased effectiveness for your skin.
However, its strength can prove too much for sensitive skin types, so we definitely only recommend this to those with especially resilient skin, or for those who have been in the skincare game for a long time coming.
9. Peach & Lily Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment
Here’s some advice: should you ever find Peach & Lily products available near you, stock up. This brand is making some incredibly impressive strides in the skincare community, and people are starting to take notice.
While we are beyond proud of their growth as a company, we have to express our disappointment in how often they are sold out! Among their list of products flying off the shelves is their Transparent-C Vitamin C Spot Treatment.
For those dealing with hyperpigmentation, whether it be from the sun, acne, or even eczema, this will be the skincare product you turn to time and time again. Just like an old friend, this serum will be a reliable constant in your life.
It has a serum like consistency, but this product isn’t meant to be used on your entire face. Not only does it contain 20% vitamin C, but since it’s formulated with a triad of nurturing skin oils, this formula is quite potent. Its strength is the reason why this should be used as a spot treatment rather than an all-over remedy.
Suitable for sensitive skin, this spot treatment penetrates deep into the pores and restores the areas of your face that need extra assistance in rebuilding.
For that reason, we highly recommend this formula for those dealing with hormonal acne, specifically teenagers. If acne patches or salicylic acid-based spot treatments are drying out your skin, this just may be the relief you need.
Can I use vitamin C in the mornings?
Absolutely! In fact, it’s recommended to add this product into your AM routine rather than when you’re winding down to go to bed. It’s brightening, shielding properties can actually improve underneath UV rays.
However, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that this vitamin also increases photosensitivity- so make sure to always apply a sunscreen once your serum has had a chance to set and reapply regularly throughout the day!
Can I mix vitamin C with retinol?
You can use vitamin C and retinol in the same day, but never in tandem. Using vit-C in the mornings and the latter at night will allow your skin time to rest in between treatments.
While you won’t see any immediate adverse reactions if you were to use them in the same regime, know that the ingredients in each formula effectively cancel one another out. You won’t be able to reap the benefits of either product, which is a bummer for your skin.