Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the human body. But did you know that it also has a number of benefits in skin care products? Vitamin C works to protect skin from free radicals and pollution, and it can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines on your face.
Since Korean skincare brands are often at the forefront of the skincare industry, their vitamin C-infused products are an excellent option for those looking to take their skincare routine up a notch. Korean beauty brands such as Klairs, Purito, and Neogen Dermalogy all offer vitamin C-rich serums that can help keep your skin healthy and bright.
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The Best Korean Vitamin C Serums
If you’re interested in trying a vitamin C serum out yourself but not sure where to begin, this list of the best Korean vitamin C serums is a great place to start as it includes several affordable Korean vitamin C serums.
Choose from pure vitamin C or more stable vitamin C derivatives. Vitamin C derivatives like sodium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate offer a more stable alternative to pure vitamin C and provide many of the same benefits but without irritation, making them ideal for sensitive skin.
1. Neogen Dermatology Real Vita C Serum
Neogen Dermatology Real Vita C Serum is formulated with 10% sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stabilized vitamin C derivative, and 12% vitamin C acerola-plex (a fruit and vegetable complex rich in vitamin C), plus multiple actives.
This Korean vitamin C serum stimulates collagen synthesis, offers antioxidant benefits such as protection from oxidative stress, hydrates, and improves the look of dull skin.
This water-based Korean serum has a lightweight texture and feel, making it ideal for those with normal, combination, and oily skin. Plus, it’s stable and non-irritating, thanks to sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a vitamin C derivative.
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: While vitamin C is a superstar skincare active, it is highly unstable. Enter sodium ascorbyl phosphate. This vitamin C derivative is not only stable but also offers antioxidant protection like pure vitamin C. This study showed that sodium ascorbyl phosphate can both prevent and treat acne with no side effects.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide is known for its multiple benefits for the skin ranging from moisturizing and skin barrier protection to brightening and wrinkle-reducing properties. Niacinamide can even help regulate sebum production, helping to balance oily and acne-prone skin.
- 5 Citrus Fruit Extracts: A blend of lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, and grapefruit extracts and improves skin radiance and luminosity.
- Panthenol: Also known as pro-vitamin B-5, panthenol is soothing, moisturizing, and has healing properties.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: The salt form of hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate plumps the skin and helps it retain water.
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2. Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop Serum
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop Serum is formulated with pure vitamin C to reenergize the skin.
The lightweight, non-comedogenic formula of this best-selling Korean serum targets dull skin tones and enlarged pores with effective brightening and healing ingredients.
Klairs formulates this serum at a 5% ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) concentration which generally causes low irritation for those with sensitive skin, but in a high enough concentration to do what vitamin C does best: brighten, even out skin tone, and offer antioxidant benefits.
- Ascorbic Acid: Ascorbic Acid is vitamin C in its purest form. It fades discoloration, its antioxidant properties protect skin against environmental stressors like UV exposure, and it stimulates collagen production.
- Centella Asiatica Extract: Offers anti-inflammatory, healing, and moisturizing properties.
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: A stable vitamin C derivative that is easily absorbed into the skin and offers similar skin benefits as pure vitamin C.
- Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract: Also known as Skullcap Root Extract, this plant extract has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. It is an antioxidant that might also offer skin brightening properties.
3. Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum
Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum is formulated with ascorbic acid, sodium hyaluronate liquid, niacinamide, arginine, and multiple plant extracts to brighten and firm the skin.
Although the vitamin C concentration is at the lower end at 5%, this concentration is enough to get results and should appeal to sensitive skin. It has a lightweight, thin texture that absorbs easily into the skin.
This facial serum comes in a pump bottle which makes dispensing it a breeze.
Please see this post for my complete review of this vitamin C serum.
- Sodium Hyaluronate Liquid: Sodium hyaluronate liquid is listed at 89% concentration and as the first ingredient of this serum. Sodium hyaluronate is the salt form of hyaluronic acid, the famous hydrator, and skin plumper. If you have dry or dehydrated skin, this ingredient is a savior.
- Ascorbic Acid: Ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) is an anti-aging superstar that goes to work on dark spots and discoloration, and targets wrinkles and fine lines while providing antioxidant protection.
- Niacinamide: A skin brightener, anti-inflammatory, and skin barrier protector. Niacinamide also targets the signs of aging helping to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and helps regulate sebum production.
- Arginine: An amino acid involved in collagen formation, this active hydrates and also has wound healing properties.
- Plant Extracts: Panax Ginseng Root Extract is a moisturizing antioxidant, Curcuma Longa (Tumeric) Root Extract is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, and Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract exfoliates and moisturizes the skin.
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4. It’s Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effector Serum
It’s Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effector Serum (Blemish Catcher) is a skin-tightening and pore-minimizing Korean vitamin C serum formulated with the vitamin C derivative ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate.
This stable vitamin C formula is lightweight, dries quickly, and doesn’t cause irritation like pure vitamin c formulas. This brightening serum has a light citrusy fragrance and works well under makeup.
It is formulated with ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative, making it ideal for those with normal to dry skin.
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate: A stable oil-soluble vitamin C derivative that absorbs well, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate appears to offer many the same benefits that pure vitamin C offers. This includes antioxidant and skin brightening benefits, and the ability to stimulate collagen production.
- Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract: Also known as green tea extract, this potent antioxidant protects skin from damaging UV exposure and has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This study even showed that a 2% topical green tea lotion was effective in treating mild to moderate acne.
- Glycerin: A humectant and moisturizer, glycerin keeps skin hydrated, plumped.
It’s Skin makes multiple serums in their It’s Skin Power 10 Formula line, so it’s easy to alternate this serum with others in the line to address a variety of skincare concerns with ingredients like Coenzyme Q10, Ginko Leaf Water, Adenosine, Photo Collagen, and Vitamin E.
5. Cos de Baha Vitamin C 15 Serum
Cos de Baha Vitamin C 15 Serum is formulated with 15% pure ascorbic acid to help fade hyperpigmentation and redness and protect against sun damage.
The result is a smoother, brighter complexion and naturally glowing skin. It strikes a balance between a too low and too high concentration of vitamin C.
It is a VERY affordable option if you are looking for a Korean vitamin C serum formulated with pure ascorbic acid.
- Ascorbic Acid: Also known as pure vitamin C, ascorbic acid is a multi-benefit skin anti-ager. It works to stimulate collagen production, helps to brighten the skin, and offers antioxidant benefits. The 15% concentration strikes a balance between not strong enough and too strong that it could cause irritation.
- Arbutin: An antioxidant and skin brightener as it inhibits melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its color.
- Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract: Also known as green tea extract, this plant extract is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from UV rays and other environmental stressors. It is also an anti-inflammatory and has antimicrobial properties.
- Panthenol: Also known as pro-vitamin B-5, this humectant moisturizes and soothes the skin.
- Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract: Aloe soothes, moisturizes, and provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Arginine: An amino acid that is involved in collagen production. It also hydrates and heals the skin.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: The salt form of hyaluronic acid, this super-charged hydrator helps the skin retain moisture, and plumps the look of the skin. A savior for dry and dehydrated skin types.
6. Some By Mi Galactomyces Pure Vitamin C Glow Serum
Some By Mi Galactomyces Pure Vitamin C Glow Serum contains 3% pure ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a vitamin C derivative, a whopping 75% galactomyces ferment filtrate, and several plant and fruit extracts.
This is my pick for the best beginner Korean vitamin C serum if you are just starting out with vitamin C and want a gentle but pure vitamin C formula.
Due to the naturally-derived ingredients, the serum has a natural subtle, light brown tint, even though it applies clear to the skin. This topical vitamin C serum is a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly, leaving your skin soft and smooth.
Due to the low concentration of pure vitamin C (which can potentially irritate the skin), this serum may appeal to sensitive skin types.
- Ascorbic Acid: This serum uses pure vitamin C to brighten your skin while improving your skin texture and reducing the look of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
- Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate: Also known as Pitera, this ingredient is derived from yeast and is full of vitamins, minerals, and moisturizing amino acids. It has also been shown to reduce the appearance of skin pigmentation. It has antioxidant benefits and helps to increase hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) production in the skin, which improves hydration and supports a healthy skin barrier.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is an excellent skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging skin. Among these benefits is that niacinamide improves skin hydration and fine lines, enhances barrier function of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin), and brightens skin tone while reducing the look of dark spots and discoloration. Niacinamide can balance sebum production in the skin, making it a favorite of those with oily skin.
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a vitamin C derivative that is a gentle, stable alternative to pure vitamin C. It has antioxidant benefits and may even promote collagen production, which improves elasticity and reduces the look of skin aging. It brightens skin tone as well as lightens hyperpigmentation, including post-acne marks. It even has antimicrobial properties which fight P. acnes, the acne-causing bacteria.
- Allantoin: Allantoin comes from the comfrey plant and helps soothe and heal the skin.
- Adenosine: A potent anti-inflammatory found naturally in our bodies that is used to help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to improve the skin’s natural moisturizing factors.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: Sodium hyaluronate is the salt version of hyaluronic acid. It has skin-identical (similar to what already exists in your skin) properties and is used to hydrate and plump the look of the skin.
- Panthenol: Panthenol, also known as pro-vitamin B5, is a humectant and anti-inflammatory. It helps to hydrate skin and support its barrier function.
Please note that there are essential oils (bergamot and lavender) in this Korean serum, although it is free of artificial fragrance.
Related Post: Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum Review
Benefits of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) in Skincare
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or l ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble antioxidant that offers many benefits to the skin.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, protecting the skin from oxidative damage caused by environmental stressors and pollution. Additionally, it stimulates collagen production, helping skin to appear firmer with less sagging. It also helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C can also help brighten pigmentation by targeting dark spots, uneven skin tone, discoloration, and other hyperpigmentation issues since Vitamin C inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production. Melanin is a pigment that gives our skin color.
Since Vitamin C is acidic in composition, it helps healthy skin cells replace pigmented dead skin cells, so that skin tone appears more even, luminous and healthy-looking. Using a vitamin C serum during the day is a great way to provide continuous protection from environmental stresses and get some brightening effects.
Related Post: The Best Face Washes for Hyperpigmentation
Drawbacks of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) in Skincare
Unfortunately, pure vitamin C is notoriously unstable in skincare products as it oxidizes when exposed to heat, light, and air.
This decreases vitamin C’s efficacy, so be sure to use skin care products containing ascorbic acid within a few months of opening. Otherwise, your vitamin C product may turn a darker brownish shade, indicating that it is losing its potency.
Pure vitamin C may also irritate the skin depending on the concentration. Choosing a vitamin C serum with concentrations under 10% will reduce your chances of a reaction.
To avoid additional irritation, be sure to avoid potent actives like retinol and retinoids and exfoliators like AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) at the same time when using pure vitamin C skincare products.
Vitamin C Derivatives
Vitamin C derivatives are alternatives to products formulated with ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C). These derivatives are formulated to avoid the two main drawbacks discussed above, instability and potential irritation.
Most vitamin C derivatives used in skincare are both stable and non-irritating. They provide many of the same benefits as pure vitamin C. Vitamin C derivatives may not be as potent as pure ascorbic acid, so consider this when choosing a vitamin C skincare product for your skin.
Final Thoughts on the Best Korean Vitamin C Serums
Vitamin C is one of the best all-around anti-agers and skin brighteners and deserves a spot in everyone’s skincare routine, as there surely is a Korean vitamin C serum formulated for your skin concerns and skin type.
Using this active in the serum step of your skincare routine is one of the best ways to deliver its benefits to your skin.
Whether you prefer a pure ascorbic acid serum or a more stable and gentle derivative, the best Korean vitamin C serum will address multiple skin concerns at once, as it will combat wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, hyperpigmentation, and even acne scars.
Even better, if you are looking for an affordable K Beauty vitamin C serum, these budget-friendly serums offered by Korean skin care brands in this post are low-priced and easy to find online.
Until next time, here’s to your good skin health!
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