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 the skin from free radicals and pollution and 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.
The best Korean vitamin C serums target dark spots, dullness, uneven skin tone, and fine lines for a brighter, healthier-looking complexion.
This post on the best Korean vitamin C serums contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information.
10 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.
It includes several affordable Korean vitamin C serums that I tested.
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.
Neogen Dermatology Real Vita C Serum Key Ingredients
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: While vitamin C is a superstar skincare active ingredient, 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.
Related Post: The Best Korean Serums for Oily Skin
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 if you have a sensitive skin type.
Yet this is a high enough concentration to do what vitamin C does best: brighten, even out skin tone, and offer antioxidant benefits.
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop Serum Key Ingredients
- 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.
Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum Key Ingredients
- 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 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.
Related Post: Purito Deep Sea Pure Water Cream Review
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.
It’s Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effector Serum Key Ingredients
- 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 and 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.
The serums address a variety of skincare concerns with ingredients like Coenzyme Q10, Ginko Leaf Water, Adenosine, Photo Collagen, and Vitamin E.
Related Posts: The Best Korean Moisturizers for Dry Skin, The Best Kiehl’s Products
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.
Cos de Baha Vitamin C 15 Serum Key Ingredients
- 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.
Some By Mi Galactomyces Pure Vitamin C Glow Serum Key Ingredients
- 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 the skin 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. SAP also 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
7. Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
If you have skin that is sensitive to vitamin C, consider Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum.
This serum contains 70% fresh green tangerine extract, 4% niacinamide, and ascorbyl glucoside, a vitamin C derivative that is highly stable and gentle on the skin.
The serum targets dark spots, uneven skin tone, post-acne hyperpigmentation, dullness, and fine lines for a brighter, more even complexion.
This updated formula contains madecassoside, asiaticoside, and centella asiatica, which are active ingredients that soothe and replenish sensitive skin.
Goodal Green Tangerine Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum Key Ingredients
- 70% Tangerine Extract: This extract is rich in vitamin C. This potent antioxidant protects the skin from environmental damage.
- 4% Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, this ingredient helps even out skin tone, reduce redness and minimize the appearance of pores.
- Ascorbyl Glucoside: This stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C brightens skin and helps reduce dark spots while smoothing fine lines and offering antioxidant protection.
- Sugar Cane Extract: A humectant and natural exfoliator that helps refine skin’s texture for a smoother and more radiant complexion.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: This popular skincare ingredient deeply hydrates the skin and helps to plump fine lines.
- Turmeric Root Extract: A natural antioxidant, this ingredient helps to reduce inflammation and improve circulation for a brighter complexion.
- Rosemary Leaf Extract: This antioxidant helps protect the skin from free radical damage and prevents premature aging. Rosemary also offers anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent benefits.
- Green Tea Extract: A potent antioxidant, this ingredient helps to reduce inflammation and protect the skin from damage caused by environmental stressors. It also offers a calming effect on irritated or sensitive skin.
- Arbutin: This ingredient helps to even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
- Panthenol: Also known as vitamin B5, this ingredient helps to soothe and calm the skin.
- Centella Asiatica, Madecassoside, and Asiaticoside: Centella asiatica, along with madecassoside and asiaticoside, which are derived from centella asiatica, are ingredients that help to soothe and replenish sensitive skin.
The serum has a light citrus fragrance (from essential oils) and a non-sticky gel-like texture that works well with makeup.
I’ve been reaching for this on cold winter days when my skin is irritated and super dry for its antioxidant protection during the day.
8. COSRX The Vitamin C 23 Serum
From COSRX’s Derm Skin Care line comes COSRX The Vitamin C 23 Serum. This vitamin C serum contains a high 23% concentration of pure vitamin C to combat dark spots while brightening and firming your skin.
The serum helps fade acne scars, discoloration, uneven skin tone and texture, wrinkles, fine lines, and dullness.
It blocks melanin (pigment) formation in your skin due to UV exposure and other environmental factors.
The serum is fast-absorbing, with a lightweight texture that works well with other skin care products and makeup.
The stand-out benefit of this serum is its high vitamin C concentration which improves the visible signs of aging without causing the typical stinging and irritation that usually comes along with highly concentrated vitamin C serums.
The serum is LOADED with skin-loving ingredients that nourish the skin:
COSRX The Vitamin C 23 Serum Key Ingredients
- 23% Ascorbic Acid: This high concentration of pure vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection, brightens skin, and fades dark spots.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide offers multiple skin benefits: it helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles by stimulating collagen production, lightens hyperpigmentation, and improves skin elasticity. It also helps even out skin tone and texture, controls oil production, and reduces the look of enlarged pores.
- Sodium Hyaluronate: This powerful humectant helps to keep skin hydrated and nourished for a more even, luminous complexion.
- Squalane: A plant-derived oil that helps strengthen the skin’s barrier and protect it from dehydration.
- Sunflower Seed Oil: Rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins, sunflower seed oil helps to soothe and soften irritated skin.
- Safflower Seed Oil: This oil helps to keep skin hydrated and nourished by locking in moisture. It’s also rich in linoleic acid, which helps to reduce the appearance of pores and acne.
- Acetyl Glucosamine: A natural sugar-derived ingredient, acetyl glucosamine helps to visibly brighten skin and improve overall tone and texture.
- Panthenol: An ingredient found in many popular Korean facial moisturizers, panthenol is known for its moisturizing benefits, providing a boost of hydration to the skin.
- Caffeine: A potent antioxidant that constricts blood vessels and improves circulation
- Carrot Root Extract: A potent antioxidant, rich in beta carotene that offers reparative benefits.
- Tocotrienol: Also called Super vitamin E, this potent antioxidant helps reduce signs of aging and soothes skin.
- Allantoin: Derived from comfrey root, this ingredient is an anti-irritant that provides calming properties to the skin.
- Licorice Root Extract: Brightens while soothing the skin.
NOTE: If this vitamin C serum is too concentrated for your skin, COSRX also offers The Vitamin C 13 Serum, a 13% vitamin C serum that is suitable for sensitive skin to use daily.
9. Seoul Ceuticals Day Glow Serum
Seoul Ceuticals Day Glow Serum helps smooth the look of wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet while brightening dark spots, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation with its lightweight formula.
The serum also helps to shrink the look of pores and reduce the appearance of acne while minimizing the look of acne scars.
This Korean vitamin C serum combines a 20% concentration of a vitamin C derivative (sodium ascorbyl phosphate) with ferulic acid, vitamin E, and Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, a plant-based form of hydrating hyaluronic acid.
Ferulic acid has been shown to double the photoprotective benefits of vitamin C and vitamin E, so combining these powerful antioxidants together provides excellent protection from environmental damage.
The serum is designed to perform as well as similar high-end vitamin C serums (i.e. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic) at a fraction of the price.
The serum is 98% naturally derived and 72% organic.
Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) is a stable and effective vitamin C derivative that is ideal for acne-prone skin.
This clinical study showed that SAP was effective in the prevention and treatment of acne. A 1% concentration of SAP was shown to have a strong antimicrobial effect on P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.
The serum also contains many soothing ingredients, including organic aloe extract, Centella asiatica extract, and horsetail extract.
The serum has a very thin consistency that absorbs quickly and feels weightless on my skin.
This is my pick for the best Korean vitamin C serum for acne-prone skin due to the high concentration of sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
10. Missha Vita C Plus Spot Correcting & Firming Ampoule
Missha Vita C Plus Spot Correcting & Firming Ampoule is a vitamin C serum (an ampoule is similar to concentrated serum) that contains Missha’s 33% Vita C Liposome Formula.
The Liposome Formula encapsulates 99% pure Vitamin C and hydrolyzed collagen to deliver the active ingredients quickly for a smoother, brighter complexion.
The Lipsosome Formula also contains stable vitamin C derivatives in the forms of ethyl ascorbic acid and ascorbyl glucoside.
Licorice root extract, niacinamide, tranexamic acid, and arbutin are additional actives in the serum that are well-known for their brightening abilities. They work to reduce the appearance of dark spots and discoloration.
Multiple forms of hyaluronic acid provide hydration at multiple levels, while adenosine and peptides help firm the skin.
The ampoule targets wrinkles and dullness, helping to reduce the look of sun damage, age spots, uneven skin tone, loss of elasticity, decreased intercellular lipids, rough skin texture, and loss of vitality.
The ampoule absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a sticky or greasy feel on the skin.
Please note there is added fragrance from essential oils in this product.
This vitamin C ampoule/serum is a great choice for dullness, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots, as it contains multiple brightening ingredients.
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.
Whether you use a Korean vitamin C serum in the morning or evening, be sure to follow with a moisturizer to lock in its benefits, plus sunscreen during the day.
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!
Related Post: The Best Snail Mucin Skincare Products