July 2, 2020

10 Best Korean Vitamin C Serums for Oily and Acne-prone Skin

best-korean-vitamin-c-serum

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Skin care in Korea has taught us that serums are vital to a skincare routine. Vitamin C serum is especially singled out for its many powerful benefits.

Experts have hailed it as one of the best ingredients to look for in topical products. Vitamin C serums nourish and protect the skin while fading hyperpigmentation like acne scars, dark spots, and other blemishes. 

There are many serums to choose from but a serum with the C vitamin is definitely one worth trying out as your first.

As Korean skin care continues to take the helm in setting skin care trends, we list the 10 best Korean Vitamin C Serums you can choose from for younger-looking skin.

Table of Contents

10 Best Korean Vitamin C Serums

Now, we can get into exploring the many Vitamin C serum options available for you!

Our Pick

For those who suffer from discoloration and rough skin, this Korean Vitamin C serum by Wishtrend is the perfect solution.

Its ingredients include 70% Vitamin Tree Water which is a highly concentrated vitamin ampoule mixed with 21.5% pure Vitamin C. Vitamin Tree Water is known to contain Vitamin E which enhances the effects of Vitamin C on the skin.

Other key ingredients like Sodium hyaluronate and panthenol work to smoothen and exfoliate uneven, textured skin.

Its gentle formula is non-sticky and free from parabens, fragrances, and essential oils, making it a good pick if your skin is sensitive.

We chose this as the best overall Korean Vitamin C serum. Aside from the high Vitamin C content, it also promotes skin renewal and smoothens skin texture. Its strong hydrating power keeps skin looking healthy as well.

Application: Apply 1-2 drops onto the face after cleansing and toning.

Packaging: Dark brown glass bottle with screw cap top that comes with a separate dropper applicator

Pros

  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Easy application
  • Good price value
  • Great for all skin types

Cons

  • Need to wear with sunscreen during daytime
  • Needs to be stored in a cold place
  • Can’t use it with retinol or AHA

Best for Acne-prone Skin

True to its name, SKINFOOD is literal skin food. Its brand philosophy is to use only top quality food ingredients for all its products. This has allowed it to create one of the cleanest and most effective lines of skincare Korea can boast of.

This serum has one of the most unique formulations of skin care Korean beauty fans enjoy.

Its main ingredients are Peach extract and Rice sake (or Japanese rice wine). These two create Peach Sake, which minimizes the appearance of pores and controls the production of oil.

Another unique ingredient is silica powder which absorbs sebum on the face.

This is definitely among the most multi-functional vitamin C serums you can choose from because it combines its Vitamin C with Vitamin A, as well as other minerals and amino acids.

This Peach Sake Vitamin C serum deserves 5 stars for its many skin benefits and interesting formulation.

Application: Pat gently onto your face after cleansing and toning. Massage until fully absorbed.

Packaging: White frosted glass bottle with built-in pump

Pros

  • Great packaging design
  • Reduces oiliness in your T-zone
  • Ideal for oily skin
  • Works great as a serum and primer
  • Great for all skin types

Cons

  • Not as effective in reducing pores
  • Not ideal for dry skintypes

Best for Sensitive Skin Types

Another interesting Vitamin C serum formulation is this hydrating facial serum by Goodal.

Its Vitamin C is derived from rare green tangerines, which are only available 4 weeks out of an entire year. It is also alcohol-free and made from natural ingredients.

Since this serum uses Vitamin C derivatives like green tangerines instead of pure Vitamin C,  it is much gentler on the skin and less prone to oxidation from UV exposure as well.

We choose this as the best Korean Vitamin C serum for those with sensitive or easily irritated skin since it provides maximum brightening results without being harsh on the skin.

Application: Tap a small amount onto your entire face after cleansing. Once absorbed, apply an extra layer on problem areas and blemishes.

Packaging: Light green frosted glass bottle with built-in pump

Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Great fragrance
  • Refreshing upon application
  • Great for oily skin

Cons

  • None

Best for Fading Hyperpigmentation

PURITO is a Korean brand that uses only natural ingredients for all its products. Their Vitamin C serum is no exception.

The Pure Vitamin C Serum helps maintain skin elasticity and texture while brightening dark spots and problem areas on the face like acne scars, freckles, and dark under eyes.

Your skin will look well-rested and rejuvenated with regular use.

Apart from 5% Ascorbic Acid, key ingredients include Red Ginseng extract and Natural Niacinamide which are popular for their anti-aging powers. They brighten the skin and make it firmer.

89% Hyaluronic Acid is also mixed in to deliver plenty of hydration to your face. It has no added oils or fragrances, making it perfect for sensitive skin types as well.

We rate this with 4 stars out of 5 since it gives nourishing and brightening effects while still being gentle on the skin.

Additionally, the packaging allows for better quality shelf life of the serum since its bottle’s dark-tint protects the Vitamin C serum from sun exposure.

Application: Apply one pump of serum to your face after cleansing and toning. Massage it into the skin until absorbed.

Packaging: Dark brown plastic bottle with a built-in pump

Pros

  • Effective for lightening darker spots
  • Non-sticky formula
  • Non-oily formula
  • Good exfoliator

Cons

  • Can feel heavy upon application
  • Not suitable in humid or tropical areas

Best for Aging Skin

Easydew products were initially only available in Korean medical clinics. As buzz about their effectiveness spread throughout South Korea (and eventually the whole world), they became a highly sought-after Korean brand.

A “youth protein” called EGF, which means Epidermal Growth Factor, is the key ingredient in this hybrid of Vitamin C serum and essence.

Regular use will give you noticeably youthful and plumper skin as it increases the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin. 

This serum was also given the Best Dermatologist Cosmetic Brand award in Korea for revitalizing skin while containing ingredients that do not clog or irritate pores.

We rate this with 4 stars because of its highly beneficial youth protein that works alongside Vitamin C.

Application: Pour onto a cotton pad and swipe on to your skin after cleansing and toning. Pat the serum into your face lightly until completely absorbed.

Packaging: White plastic bottle with a screw cap

Pros

  • Not irritating on the skin
  • Proven anti-aging results
  • Can be used to treat various skin problems

Cons

  • Pricey

Best for Exfoliating Dead Skin

If you’re looking for a serum that can properly exfoliate and smoothen your skin, then this is a perfect choice.

Apart from Vitamin C, its ingredients include 8% Glycolic Acid AHA which is a chemical exfoliant targeted to get rid of dead skin cells.

Knowing this, we suggest that you be prepared to wipe off (there may be a lot!) the dead skin you’ll get on your face after using this with a moist cotton pad.

It also has Aloe extract to soothe redness. Other ingredients include Papaya extract to fade hyperpigmentation and Panthenol to hydrate dry skin.

Finally, antibacterial components like Arnica extract and Portulaca Oleracea provide the skin with overall protection.

Once you get past the inevitable face-peeling stage, your complexion will look smoother and evened out.

Application: Apply a few drops onto your face after cleansing and toning. Pat gently until absorbed.

Packaging: Opaque white bottle with a dropper applicator

Pros

  • Refreshing scent
  • Great exfoliating properties
  • Nice packaging design
  • Does not dry out skin

Cons

  • Not ideal for those with oily skin or prone to breakouts

Best for Dry and Dehydrated Skin

Another great product from Mizon is their Original Skin Energy serum. More than being enriched with Vitamin C, it also has incredible moisturizing effects on the skin when used regularly.

It has a water-soluble Hyaluronic acid ampoule which improves wrinkles and deeply hydrates the skin. The serum is also mild enough not to cause any skin reactions.

This is great for those with dry, dehydrated, or flaky skin.

We rate this with 4 stars for its powerful hydration benefits.

Application: Apply 2-4 drops onto your face after cleansing and toning.

Packaging: Blue glass bottle with a dropper applicator

Pros

  • Good moisturizing effect
  • Great for dry skin
  • Absorbs quickly on the skin
  • Does not leave any residue

Cons

  • Might cause breakouts for oily skin users

Best for Smoothing Wrinkles and Fine Lines

If you’re looking for a premium Vitamin C serum with strong anti-aging effects, then Di’MYOOR’s Anti-Aging Collagen serum is definitely for you.

Mixed in with Vitamin C are Genuine Caviar, Retinol, and all-natural Cucumber and Aloe Vera. The serum also contains Vitamin E, which promotes skin renewal and strengthens the effects of the Vitamin C serum altogether.

This serum will smoothen wrinkles and fine lines, all while maintaining your skin’s healthy glow.

We rate this with 4 stars out of 5 stars for not only for its topnotch quality, but also for its elegant packaging design and luxurious feel.

Application: Apply to your face and neck after cleansing.

Packaging: Opaque white bottle with built-in pump

Pros

  • Natural ingredients
  • Feel more healthy and refreshed skin after applying

Cons

  • Not as effective

Best for Uneven Complexion

Klairs is among the more popular brands of skin care Korea has. Its products are formulated with only the mildest, most basic, and simplest ingredients.

This particular Vitamin C serum evens out skin tone by targeting hyperpigmentation, the appearance of pores, and other problem areas.

Its Vitamin C comes in the form of Ascorbic Acid from grape and Yuja extracts, as well as a small amount of sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a gentler Vitamin C derivative than Ascorbic Acid).

It is also formulated with Centella Asiatica extract and Scutellaria baicalensis root extract to soothe irritation, as well as sodium hyaluronate and butylene glycol for hydration.

One thing to note is that since it also contains essential oils like lavender and orange, this serum may not be suitable for sensitive skin.

We rate this with 3.5 stars as its formula can still be improved to cater better to all skin types.

Application: Apply half a drop of serum onto the face after cleansing. If you have sensitive skin, apply 3-4 drops after cleansing and toning. If your skin is extra sensitive, you can mix it into your preferred lotion or serum before massaging onto your face.

Packaging: Clear plastic bottle with a dropper applicator

Pros

  • Brightens and rejuvenates skin
  • Improves discoloration
  • Non-oily formula

Cons

  • Not effective for oily skin
  • Shelf-life is short (2 months)

Best for Blackheads and Acne Scars

Formerly known as O.S.T. C20, TIA’M’s Vitamin C serum has continued to stay true to its promised benefits.

The Korean Vitamin C serum only highlights one main ingredient: 20% pure Vitamin C. This allows it effectively to exfoliate blackheads, improve acne scars, lighten skin tone, and combat fine lines.

We rate this with 3.5 stars only since it also contains alcohol, which is not suitable for those with sensitive skin. Its ability to lighten hyperpigmentation and even out skin texture still makes it a worthy contender, though.

Application: Apply 2-3 drops onto your face after cleansing and toning. Pat gently until absorbed. A mild tingling sensation may be felt. Once this passes, you can re-apply to target only your problem areas.

Packaging: Dark brown glass bottle with dropper

Pros

  • Provides an even skin tone
  • Effective brightening effects
  • Results are immediately visible

Cons

  • Short shelf-life
  • Needs to be refrigerated

Honorable Mention

Though this Vitamin C serum is not by a Korean brand, it has started to gain a cult following. Many celebrities and influencers have already raved about and reviewed this product, saying it gives amazing results.

This Vitamin C serum by UK brand Pixi infuses Ferulic acid and probiotics, making it a strong contender among Vitamin C facial serums. It smooths skin texture and brightens overall complexion with regular use.

Additionally, it is free from parabens and contains Aloe, Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit extracts which hydrates the skin and soothes irritation.

Application: Apply 2-3 drops onto your face and neck after cleansing and toning.

Packaging: Light green opaque glass bottle with a dropper applicator

Pros

  • You can easily find this product anywhere
  • Affordable; price-friendly
  • Carries vitamin E and Ferulic acid, which helps stabilize Vitamin C
  • Great moisturizing and antioxidant properties

Cons

  • Oxidizes easily
  • Thick formula makes it not suitable for combination skin

Adding to your skincare routine

A typical skin care routine usually has three basic steps: Cleansing, Toning, and Moisturizing.

K-Beauty, however, has introduced many other steps to add to these.

You might be familiar with the 10 step Korean Skincare routine, advertised by many skin care enthusiasts and gurus alike. While it may sound extreme, it truly is up to you if you want to add more.

We must assert though, that a serum would be a strong welcome and worthy addition to your basic routine. Since it’s just one more step, you will reap the benefits without breaking a sweat.

The serum step, using Vitamin C in particular, is an opportune time to nourish and renew your skin.

Also, with so many options available from the best Korean brands, it would be a waste not to give a serum a try!

HOW TO: After cleansing and toning, apply the serum before applying your moisturizer as the final step to your routine.

Choosing the Best Vitamin C Serum for You

The Korean Vitamin C serums of today come in many new varieties. However, it is important to discern first which products are worth buying.

Some formulations might affect sensitive skin types differently. Certain fragrances and oils may also irritate the skin. Some brands’ packaging could differ as well, which could affect the efficacy of the serum.

Formulation

The Vitamin C used in serums will vary depending on the brand’s formula.

The most common Vitamin C derivative used is L-ascorbic acid or simply called Ascorbic acid.

Other products might contain derivatives taken from fruits rich in Vitamin C concentrations like oranges, lemons, or other citrus fruits.

Additional ingredients

Some Vitamin C serums are formulated with Vitamin E since this enhances the antioxidants already found in Vitamin C.

Vitamin E also boosts collagen production when mixed with Vitamin C. It strengthens UV protection to fight sun damage as well.

Other Vitamin C serums that already contain Vitamin E may also have Ferulic acid among its ingredients. Ferulic acid increases Vitamin E’s power to fight against UV effects. At the same time, it stabilizes Vitamin C when in a water solution.

Make sure to check the complete ingredients of a potential Vitamin C serum you might like for Vitamin E or Ferulic acid for better results.

Storage

Since exposure of Vitamin C serum to UV light leads to oxidation, it could eventually lose its potency. That’s why it’s best to choose a serum packaged in a dark-tinted glass bottle for better protection.

You should also keep it away from direct heat and sunlight. Most Korean beauty gurus actually store their serums in the refrigerator for better efficacy.

Skin Care Tip: Use Sunscreen!

When adding Vitamin C serum into your skincare routine,  you must never skip sunscreen.

As mentioned, Vitamin C oxidizes when exposed to heat and sunlight. Not using an SPF product will only increase sun damage and lessen the serum’s effectiveness.

The Best Korean Vitamin Serum for You

Have you found the best Korean Vitamin C serum for you by now? The choices above have answers to every concern.

Serums with mild ingredients are perfect for those with delicate skin.

Serums with higher percentages of Vitamin C are better for those who plan on fading hyperpigmentation.

Specially formulated Vitamin C serums mixed with other acids and vitamins are specifically geared to fix problem areas like blemishes, dark spots, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C serums combined with Vitamin E and Ferulic acid also enhance the anti-UV effects of Vitamin C.

Finally, other Vitamin C serums with ingredients like Hyaluronic acid and Sodium hyaluronate focus more on hydrating the skin.

The K-Beauty Evolution Continues

As K-beauty continues to grow, there are surely a lot more skin care products still yet to come. Newer innovations to Vitamin C serums are yet to happen, and more interesting ingredients and formulas are yet to be created.

For most people, Vitamin C and Ascorbic Acid used to be mere supplements. Today, we are continuing to discover their many benefits as topical solutions.

It will be good to stay on the lookout for brand new updates in the K-beauty scene.

Conclusion: Invest in a Good Vitamin C Product for Your Skin

It definitely would be smart to invest in a good Vitamin C serum as early as now.

Your skin is the only constant body part that you can take with you as you grow older.  Studies have shown that skin loses its ability to heal quickly as we get older.

Hyperpigmentation and fine lines become unavoidable as the skin will eventually lose its elasticity.

Giving your skin the extra care and Vitamin C it needs will surely have you thanking yourself later on.

More than the aesthetic benefits of Vitamin C on your appearance, its anti-UV properties are great protection against skin cancer and other skin complications.

Whichever way you put it, one thing is for sure: Your skin will definitely be better off with a Vitamin C serum than without it. (If you’d like to see other serums without Vitamin C, check out our post about the best Korean serums.) 

Sure, it would be good to live long. But it would feel even better and GREAT to live with bright, beautiful, and healthy skin!

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.