1 month ago

Best Korean Serums for Dry, Acne-Prone, and Combination Skin


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Taking a closer look into the infamous 10-step Korean skincare routine, you would not find a more powerful daily product than the serum. Packed with so many benefits in every drop, these miracle workers work wonders for your skin problems.

If you’re not using them yet, you’re definitely depriving your skin of one of the best sources of nourishment it can get today. To get started, here is a list of my favorite Korean serums to help you decide on one that suits you.

The 8 Best Korean Serums

Best Overall


Prevention is key when it comes to skin aging, and Klairs has come up with a simple serum to help keep our skin looking young for as long as we can. I say simple because it only has 10 ingredients that are easily absorbed into the skin.

Unlike other serums that are used after applying a toner, this product is recommended immediately after cleansing. This is to prevent any barriers from the skin to allow a more efficient absorption. 

The anti-aging power of this serum comes from its high Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) concentration. EGF is a polypeptide that promotes cell growth and healing.

It also contains guaiazulene, a soothing agent that calms irritated skin. This is why this serum is great to use even after exfoliating.


  • Very effective in preventing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Soothing to the skin


  • Super watery consistency

Best for Acne-Prone Skin


Having acne-prone skin does not only mean having to take care of actual acne. You’ll still have to deal with the scars and redness in order to get an overall clear look.

That’s why I love this CosRx serum because it does all of these for you. It has CentellAC-Rx Complex, which is basically the brand’s own version of Centella Asiatica. It helps clear the skin as well as keeps the skin barrier strong.

When you look through the ingredients list, the main component of this serum is Propolis, which is one of my favorites because it does a great job in protecting the skin. If you’re looking for something that would restore your skin to its original healthy glow, this is something to look for.

This product is tested against irritation so it works well for sensitive skin.


  • Contains CentellAC-Rx Complex keeps the skin barrier strong
  • Has propolis that rejuvenates the skin
  • Alcohol-free


  • While it does not aggravate acne, some people find this product has no appreciable effect on their skin

Best for Dry Skin

Green tea is one of the best ingredients to look for when you have dry skin. It’s often listed with its scientific name, as Camellia Sinensis, so if you find this in the ingredients list, it is likely to have a great effect on your dry skin. This is especially true when it appears first in the list.

Green tea is rich in the polyphenol EGCG, which helps reactivate dying skin cells according to a 2003 study.

If you have dry skin, you will appreciate the effects immediately. However, if your skin is already properly hydrated, don’t expect any sudden dramatic changes. Don’t get me wrong. The serum is still providing nourishment. You just won’t feel the effects in skin texture immediately.

This product comes in a container with a dispenser, which works really well. It’s also great for travel because of its protective cap that prevents any accidental spilling.

For those with sensitive skin, this serum works well since it does not contain any parabens or mineral oils.

While some serums feel tacky and heavy, the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum is lightweight. It easily absorbs into the skin, making it one of the best serums in this list for humid conditions.


  • Deeply hydrates the skin
  • Paraben and mineral oil-free
  • Lightweight


  • Does not have dramatic effects for those with already hydrated skin

Aside from the sun, exposure to pollutants is another reason why our skin ages prematurely. Witch is why AmorePacific came up with a serum that protects against all environmental aggressors, including sun damage.

With the help of pine mushroom, this serum is rich in Vitamin D and antioxidants. Mushrooms in general are good ingredients in helping improve acne and rosacea, so this serum also works well for sensitive skin.

You’ll feel its luxurious texture once you apply it. It goes on smoothly and is easily absorbed by the skin in seconds. One of the first effects you’ll notice is how calming it is to the skin.

If you need to give your skin a bit of pampering from the stresses of daily commute, go for this serum.

The only problem I and many other users have about this is how expensive it is. It’s definitely an investment to prevent premature aging, but you’ll have to pay a good price for it.


  • Contains pine mushroom that helps protect the skin from aging caused by environmental damage
  • Has green tea extract that fights oxidative damage
  • Cruelty-free
  • Calms the skin


  • Expensive
  • Scent may be too strong for some

MediCube’s Red Line is one of the most hyped Korean beauty lines in the market because of it effectiveness in clearing the skin of acne. Their serum is definitely one of the best products in the line because it easily targets the problem areas for faster results.

The serum comes in a plastic bottle with a hygienic pump dispenser. I like how the line uses a simple design. The bottle looks like similar to what you would find in a hospital.

However, I am not a fan of the fact you have to guess how much product is left because of the opaque bottle. I would have wanted something translucent just to let me know if I need to repurchase.

As to the texture, this serum is very lightweight. It comes out of the bottle quite blue (and sometimes green), but that’s its natural color.

The β-glucan and glycerin content helps hydrate the skin. This is a very moisturizing serum, which is why a lot of users often ditch their moisturizers for this.

This serum is also great for those with oily skin. It contains ovalicin that controls the sebum and over 28 natural plant extracts that are not irritating to the skin.

But while it’s common knowledge that strongly scented products are not recommended for sensitive skin, this one is an exception. It reeks heavily of tea tree scent, but it still works effectively.


  • Clinically tested for sensitive skin
  • Does a great job in removing acne
  • Lightweight


  • Has a strong scent
  • Bottle is opaque so you can’t see how much product is left

One of the best combinations for skin brightening is Vitamins C and E, which is why Liz K chose to have these ingredients in their serum.

It comes in a clear glass, which may be a disadvantage for this particular product since Vitamin C breaks down in the presence of light. So here’s a tip when using this product: Store it in your refrigerator. It will slow down the breaking process and keeps the Vitamin C potent for a longer period.

Aside from ascorbic acid, this serum also contains arbutin, which is also a skin brightening agent. Couple this with Vitamin C and E combo, you’ll get maximum brightening effects.

The serum also has butylene glycol to increase the penetrating power of the ingredients. However, this ingredient is famous for its potential to cause acne and irritate the skin.

It also contains Ethylhexyl Salicylate, which acts as the serum’s built-in sunscreen. It’s good to note that Vitamin C used together with sunscreen boosts the UV protection of the latter.

The serum also contains mistletoe and green tea extract, which gives it a soothing effect when applied.


  • Contains 11% pure Vitamin C that brightens the skin
  • Has built-in sunscreen
  • Boosts collagen production


  • Contains alcohol
  • May cause adverse reactions for super sensitive skin
  • Comes in a clear glass that may lessen vitamin c potency

Exfoliation is a necessary process to make cell turnover more efficient, resulting in brighter and younger-looking skin. So if you have a dull complexion, this Mizon AHA serum may be your best bet.

The main ingredient responsible for exfoliation is glycolic acid (GA), which is a type of alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA). GA is the AHA with the smallest molecule, so it is easily the best exfoliating ingredient you can find.

What’s unique about this product is it comes in a bottle with a smart dropper. Every time you unscrew the cap, you’ll find it already has pipetted the right amount of serum. So all you have to do is press the cap to dispense the product. In this way, you’ll get the exact amount you need every time.

But while this serum is very promising, people with sensitive skin should be cautious about purchasing this or any other peeling beauty products.

This one in particular is highly exfoliating so it may cause irritation to sensitive skin. If you’re not used to AHA yet, start with a once a week application before you slowly move towards a more frequent usage.


  • Contains glycolic acid, which is a powerful exfoliant
  • Fragrance-free
  • Well-designed dropper dispenses the right amount of product every time


  • May not work well for sensitive skin

What’s usually the problem when you have overly oily skin? Lack of moisture.

Because your skin needs a certain amount of moisture to keep its barriers strong, lack of moisture makes it produce more sebum to counteract the dryness. And when it comes to hydration, there’s not many beauty ingredients that come close to the power of snail mucin.

This Purito serum is composed of 93 percent snail mucus, making it excellent for moisturizing the skin. Snail mucin is also great for healing broken skin and acne scars.

It’s also 10-free, meaning it does not have harmful ingredients like paraben, triclosan, surfactant, artificial coloring and fragrance, phthalein, ethanol, triethanolamine, petrochemicals, and benzoyl peroxide.


  • Contains a high concentration of snail mucin that helps moisturize and heal the skin
  • Free from harmful ingredients
  • Cruelty-free


  • Can take some time to be absorbed into the skin

The K-Beauty Influence

K-pop is not the only big influence Koreans have in the international realm. Along with the rise of our favorite idols, we are also introduced to their unique beauty standard, one that emphasizes healthy skin among others.

As people around the world become more acquainted with the Korean culture, Korean beauty companies have risen in popularity. We’re introduced to more natural ingredients that are unique in Asia and practices that help improve the complexion from the inside out.

In a way, the influence of K-beauty caused the resurfacing of ancient secrets that have given Koreans their signature clear and dewy look. This is why I’m such a big fan of Korean products, and I enjoy sharing my favorites with my readers.

Serum: The Definition

Serums are skincare products designed to deliver concentrated amounts of nutrients to the skin to target specific skin problems. These active ingredients promote easier skin absorption for much faster results.

Unlike moisturizers, serums are made up of smaller particles and are more concentrated. In terms of volume, they give you the best bang for your buck. So don’t be surprised when you see the prices and compare it to the amount of product you get. You wouldn’t be needing much of it to see the effects.

Drawing the Line: Serums, Ampoules, Essences

The beauty industry has come up with a lot of products that have practically the same functions and formulation. When it comes to serums, for example, there are really not many differences when compared to ampoules and essences.

Sometimes, these terms are used interchangeably and are nothing more than marketing expressions. The term serum is more common in Asian countries while essence is more familiar to the Western audience.

Technically, however, serums are more concentrated and more viscous than essences. Ampoules, on the other hand, are the most concentrated among the three and are not recommended to be used daily.

How and When to Use Serums

Serums are mild enough for daily application. Twice a day is the recommended limit.  After cleansing the face, apply your chosen toner to prep the skin for the serum.

Massage the serum onto the skin using your fingers. You can add the drops on your fingers first or apply them directly to the face. Allow a minute or two to let the product settle before moving on to the next step.

During the day, use a sunscreen over the serum. At night, apply a moisturizer over it. While serums are able to moisturize the skin, they should not be considered substitutes for moisturizers.

Ingredients to Look for to Find the Perfect Korean Serum

Just like any other skincare product, choosing a serum would depend on your skin type and needs. Even though many serums claim to be suitable for all skin types, it’s best to know the ingredients you need to really determine if the serum can potentially solve your skin problem.

Dry Skin

Look for serums with highly hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and snail mucin. Peptides also help in making the skin look plumper. It does this by stimulating collagen production.

Other ingredients beneficial to dry skin types include Vitamin E and niacinamide. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps the skin recover from oxidative damage. Niacinamide, on the other hand, increases ceramide levels. Ceramide aids in locking moisture in by decreasing the skin’s permeability.

Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

Tea tree is probably one of the best ingredients for acne-prone skin. It controls oiliness while preventing breakouts. This is because tea tree oil is antibacterial and is a gentle astringent.

Another good ingredient is honey, which helps keep the skin moisturized while controlling excess oil. It also has antibacterial properties so it’s great in keeping pimples at bay.

Aging Skin

Even in your twenties, it wouldn’t hurt to prevent skin aging as early as possible. Look for ingredients that help boost collagen production such as Vitamin C, aloe vera, peptides, and glycolic acid.

Dull Skin

Go for skincare products with Vitamin E or green tea extract. These ingredients help brighten up the skin while combating free radicals.

What to Note Before Using Serums

As mentioned before, serums are highly concentrated products that deliver active ingredients efficiently. This is why it’s best to test serums first before committing to a purchase.

Because of the high concentration, your skin may not react well to the product. Ask for a sampler first or buy the trial sizes before going full bottle.


Serums are an important addition to your skincare routine if you’re not yet using one. They are very helpful in targeting specific skin problems without necessarily changing other beauty products you love.

My personal favorite is Klairs Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drops because it effectively prevents the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Prevention is key to maintaining youthful-looking skin.

I also love the CosRx Blemish Spot Clearing Serum especially during my bad skin days. Nobody likes to have pimples, so it’s good to have a product designed to deliver concentrated amounts of healing ingredients to the problem spots.

If you have tried any of the products listed above, leave me a note below about your experience.

Paola Diaz

Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.

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