When it comes to a Korean beauty routine, the one product that steals the limelight is a serum. The best Korean serums have nothing on Korean eye creams, sunscreens, moisturizers, etc. These serums are the highest regarded formulas because they target specific skin issues with the help of many active ingredients.
The thing about Korean serum formulations is that they contain innovative ingredients that are very unlikely to be found in American-made skincare and beauty products. And let me tell you that these innovative ingredients are definitely more potent. This explains why the popularity of Korean serums is growing by leaps and bounds.
So here’s the ultimate best Korean serums 2020 list for you.
1. SKIN&LAB Advanced Dermatology Korean Vitamin C Serum
Let’s kick off with the best Korean serum for dry skin. This SKIN&LAB advanced formulation is specifically created for dull, dry, and damaged skin. It’s a serum that resolves all common skin issues by providing wrinkle care, hydration, brightening, and nutrition.
The best part about applying this on a daily basis is that you notice drastic changes in just 5 days. That means you can expect your skin to look revitalized in no time.
Another enticing quality is the presence of the Phyto red complex. This natural form of color therapy protects your skin against oxidation to keep your face looking healthy and young. Moreover, the Vitamin C serum boosts blood circulation and vitality for activating skin brightening effects.
It also has the capacity to balance the production of sebum while also soothing your skin. The latter part is great for those that have sensitive skin. So now you know how this Korean serum works and what skin type it’s the most suitable for. Think of it as a skin brightener, anti-aging potion, moisturizer, and Vitamin C serum all in a single bottle.
2. DearKlairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop Vitamin C Serum
Now, how about yet another multifunctional K-beauty serum your skin is certainly going to love you for? This Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop by DearKlairs is a formula you can apply on a daily basis for rejuvenating and energizing your skin. And what sets into motion all this desirable action is Vitamin C.
A concentrated amount of Vitamin C is included for delivering abundant nutrition and moisture. Needless to say, the serum clears up your acne and acne scars. Along with minimizing pores and preventing breakouts!
Many women have also praised Vitamin Drop for fading hyperpigmentation. And that says a lot about how effective and powerful the Korean serum really is.
The ingredients used are non-comedogenic. That means they don’t clog pores. And that means you can use it even if your skin type is oily or acne-prone. Speaking of skin type, this Vitamin C serum is safe and gentle for sensitive skin too. Thanks to the addition of only 5% Vitamin C.
3. Mizon Original Skin Energy Hyaluronic Acid 100 Facial Care
So the two Korean serums before this were all about Vitamin C. And now this one is all about hyaluronic acid. The formulation is 50% hyaluronic acid, which is highly concentrated for better application and results.
What hyaluronic acid does best is to provide deep hydration to leave your skin feeling moisturized throughout the day. And you only need to apply 2 to 4 drops for that. Skin receives a moisture boost almost instantly. This implies no more having to deal with dull or dry skin. Hydration is crucial when it comes to skincare, for whatever skin type.
Then the hyaluronic acid-equipped serum also contains ceramide3, cholesterol, hydrogenated lecithin, and copper tripeptide-1. In simple English, these are ingredients directly responsible for improving the elasticity of your skin. In that case, the best Korean serum anti aging benefits also become a part of the experience.
So if your priorities are moisturizing, soft texture, and improving skin elasticity, you know where to look.
4. Skin Food since 1957 Peach Sake Pore Serum
Now it’s time to welcome with open arms the best Korean serum out there for oily skin. It helps you deal with excessive sebum and enlarged pores. After all, the primary ingredients used are traditional wine sake and peach extracts. The first controls the production of natural oils in your skin while the second shrink your pores.
Let me also tell you that peach extracts have a rich content of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Both are very effective cosmetic ingredients commonly added to K-beauty formulations. The brand has also included composites of licorice root, soybean, chamomile, and Centella Asiatica. All of these just prove the point that the serum is good for sensitive skin too.
To be honest, it’s highly likely that you won’t come across such a powerful serum for controlling oily skin so well. It allows your face to remain shine-free for many, many hours during the day. At the same time, the magic-like potion improves the consistency of your skin. Plus, it has a very delicious peach scent, which is in no way overwhelming.
5. SeoulCeuticals Vitamin C Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Here’s presenting one of the best selling Korean skin care products. And the only reason for the immense popularity is the combination of Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Such a blend of two active ingredients, no doubt, minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also clearing up acne and shrinking pores to prevent further breakouts.
So you can say that the current option is a form of topical Vitamin C plus a potent anti-wrinkle, anti-aging formula. The texture is such that absorption is not a worry at all. The serum leaves your skin feeling nothing but renewed and radiant.
Apart from hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C, there’s ferulic acid, jojoba oil, arginine, and horsetail extract. The citrus-derived stem cells add a refreshing orange scent.
If you ask me, this is the perfect drink to quench the thirst of your skin. After all, Vitamin C does so many great things. Like boosting antioxidants for skin protection, increasing the synthesis of collagen to provide anti-aging action, and reducing spots often associated with pigmentation.
So you can expect significant improvements in the elasticity, texture, and clarity of your skin.
6. COSRX Propolis Light Ampule
The brand COSRX has only one goal in mind. And that is to deliver skincare solutions customized for suiting individual skin problems. The products they manufacture work with specific skin types. So this COSRX Propolis Light Ampule is specially formulated for dry skin. And I know this because the formula is packed with highly moisturizing ingredients.
So what are these highly moisturizing ingredients? 83% of the serum contains black bee propolis extract. This is a natural moisturizer that is very likely to benefit dry, dull, and damaged skin. You can look forward to smooth, glowing skin without a sticky feeling.
Pure black propolis also offers exceptional skin nourishing and antibacterial properties. So an improvement in skin elasticity is also inevitable.
On top of that, the ampule is lightweight, which means quick absorption. That makes the formulation also suitable for oily or acne-prone skin. It forms a moisturizing barrier for locking in hydration throughout the day without feeling too heavy. And that’s the most appealing quality.
7. Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum
The first hypoallergenic Korean serum! The Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum gets rid of your dead skin cells without triggering skin sensitivities and allergies. The 8-percent alpha hydroxy acid makes sure that dead skin cells get effectively eliminated.
AHA is a water-soluble ingredient that softens the skin by destroying dead skin cells. It provides skin protection to activate radiance. Skin softening along with an improvement in skin elasticity is to be expected.
The AHA here is glycolic acid just so you know. Smooth exfoliation and natural firmness are benefits that take form if you apply the serum on a daily basis. It’s a dermatologist-tested and mild formulation perfect for sensitive skin.
If you’re on the lookout for a Korean serum equipped with AHA, Vitamin C, retinol, and BHA, then here it is. The formula has all of that for allowing your skin to glow and look younger.
8. Naturals Lab Brand Organic Hyaluronic Acid Serum
I don’t know what I like more about the product title? That it’s organic or that it contains hyaluronic acid. Both are such great qualities that it’s hard to decide what matters more. In any case, the Naturals Lab Brand serum under the spotlight is a very effective K-beauty formulation.
It has Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, aloe barbadensis leaf, and Camellia Sinensis leaf. The hyaluronic acid content provides your skin with generous amounts of moisture. I say generous because hyaluronic acid can carry water 10,000 times its weight. So your skin cells are in for deep, long-lasting hydration.
As for Vitamin C, what it does is balance your skin complexion. It also provides sun protection and anti-aging benefits. Then there’s Vitamin E for delivering antioxidants. So the harmful free radicals get neutralized, which means skin damage is averted.
What about Camellia Sinensis leaf? This is green tea also equipped with antioxidants along with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. And lastly, aloe barbadensis leaf (aloe vera sap) is a highly effective moisturizer.
No chance this organic serum cannot beat down any other Korean formula in terms of visibly improving your skin and offering extra hydration. It does rank as the best Korean moisturizer after all.
9. STEMBOTANY BioPureMED 25% Vitamin CE+Ferulic Acid Serum
I can tell you this formula is perfectly portioned with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and ferulic acid. The highest quality ingredients are used, particularly Vitamin C. These are orange-derived stem cells just so you know.
It’s an age-defense Korean formula that minimizes existing age spots and prevents new ones from forming simply by protecting your skin against UV rays. You can use it in the day and at night. During the day, it’s as easy as applying the serum on your face below all the makeup. Once your skin starts to glow, I don’t think you’ll even need to put on makeup then.
It’s a great formulation for those with sensitive skin. The proof of which is the lightweight, non-greasy texture of the formula. At the same time, no colors, alcohol, or perfumes are included. Most genuine Korean serums are like that. The serum gets absorbed quickly without increasing the size of your pores.
And it’s not just the inclusion of Vitamin C that I found to be incredibly effective here. There’s also Vitamin E and ferulic acid, as you already know. Both combine with aloe vera for maximizing the potency of Vitamin C. So there’ no way this special K-beauty formulation is going to disappoint. No matter your age or skin type!
10. I’M From Ginseng Serum
A simple product name deserves a simple introduction. But, mind you, just because it’s simple doesn’t make it any less effective as one of the best Korean serums. The I’M From Ginseng Serum is formulated using around 8% concentrated ginseng extract. So what does ginseng do? Let me elaborate below.
Ginseng extracts, in that amount, enhance your blood circulation in the most natural manner. So your skin complexion looks lively and receives all the replenishment and nourishment it requires on a daily basis. The extracts penetrate the deeper layers of your skin for improving more than just skin complexion and luminosity. It also boosts elasticity.
You also need to understand that ginseng extracts offer excellent concentrated antioxidant properties for purifying your skin. This purification is deemed necessary because the skin often looks and feels fatigued due to accumulated waste and external stimuli.
So if you think your priorities are nourishment and enrichment or wrinkle repair, then you simply cannot go wrong with this ginseng serum.
11. Neogen Dermalogy White Truffle Serum
This Korean serum comes in the form of an oil drop. So you might be thinking that the formula is sticky and not good for preventing breakouts. No such thing is a part of the experience, that’s for sure. Thanks to the lightweight texture, fast-absorbing capacity, and refreshingly smooth and clean finish of the serum.
Moisture is long-lasting, needless to say. Moreover, Neogen Dermalogy delivers excellent skin clarifying benefits like pigment correction. Even skin protection is a part of the deal.
What you’re looking at here is a unique oil drop serum that combines the moisturizing effects and hydration properties of a Korean ampoule. The result of which is hydrated and radiant skin throughout the day.
So it goes without saying that the Neogen Dermalogy White Truffle is perfect for dry skin. And for the winter months of the year. The cherry on the cake is the absence of an irritating or overpowering scent.
12. A.H.C. The Real Eye Cream for Face
The product name is confusing, isn’t it? I mean is it an eye cream or something that you can use on your face too? Let me clear out the confusion. The eye cream is so effective that the brand decided you can use it all over your face as well.
Wrinkle smoothing, skin brightening, hydrating, firming, lifting, moisturizing, quick absorption, and lots more. These are the many benefits that this A.H.C. creation has the ability to deliver.
Products like these combine the powerful effects of anti-aging retinol, facial serum, moisturizing lotion, and eye cream into one. So you don’t have to buy each product separately. Isn’t that amazing!
The brand ranks as one of the most popular in Korea and worldwide. That’s because they manufacture some of the best skincare serums that work even on the most sensitive skin, including this one obviously.
Anti-aging and nourishing ingredients like Argireline, lupine proteins and antarcticine are included. The first is a powerful peptide. The second is packed with amino acids. And the third is an anti-wrinkle glycoprotein.
So it’s not unreasonable to look forward to a drastic improvement in the elasticity, texture, and clarity of not just the area around your eyes but also your whole face.
13. Cos De BAHA Azelaic Acid 10% Serum
Acne is a common skin concern, isn’t it? So if you’re looking for an acne-prone-skin-specific Korean serum, you’ve hit the jackpot with this azelaic acid-equipped formula. The ingredient, azelaic acid is a new yet effective solution to getting rid of acne.
The serum booster is highly potent when it comes to reducing the appearance of acne and blemishes. At the same time, it fades marks and brown spots from previous breakouts. 10% azelaic acid is added, which is safe and powerful enough. Along with niacinamide, which again is very effective for acne treatment.
Needless to say, this is a multi-tasking K-beauty formulation that is quite boastful of its oil-free, lightweight texture. This particular quality of the serum is what makes it a perfect add-on with your other skin treatments.
But there’s only one reason why I decided to include this in my reviews. And that reason takes the form of azelaic acid here. After all, the ingredient eliminates acne-causing bacteria like no other.
14. SKIN1004 Madagascar Centella Asiatica Ampoule
Everything about the last pick on the list is so exotic you might as well have preferred it to be the first. This formula comes in the form of an ampoule made of high-quality natural ingredients. The ingredient that steals the show is Centella Asiatica. And it stems from the popular Madagascar region.
Madagascar natives have forever used Centella Asiatica for protecting skin and healing wounds. So it’s nothing but extremely beneficial when it comes to skincare and health. 100% of this Korean ampoule consists of Centella Asiatica extract. So you’re looking at deep hydration and drastic improvements in your skin.
It’s formulated for sebum care, pore care, skin barrier enhancement, and hydration. The main effects also include diminishing the visibility of spots associated with hyperpigmentation. And you don’t even have to wait for too long for such desirable effects to take form. That’s the beauty of this pure, highly concentrated extract.
Choosing a Korean Serum for Your Skin Type
It’s time to break down the choices of Korean serums based on the most common skin types.
Acne-Prone and Oily Skin
Having to deal with excessive oil production is not a pleasant experience. It’s frustrating when your skin is constantly looking shiny or slick throughout the day. The consequences of oily skin also include the rise of acne, blackheads, and whiteheads. The reason for this is quite obvious. It’s because too much sebum enlarges the size of your pores. And that, in turn, paves the way for dead skin cells, acne-causing bacteria, and dirt.
So at such times, what your troubled skin requires is a blend of ingredients that controls sebum production. Once the manufacturing of excess sebum is in check, both oil and acne take the backseat.
And the most effective sebum-managing ingredient in Korean serums is hyaluronic acid. At the same time, these special formulas suitable for oily and acne-prone skin deliver generous hydration. There’s no denying that when your skin receives lots of hydration, the chances of breakouts and excess sebum are minimized.
What does dry skin look like? Patches that lack moisture and hydration, right? The problem of dry skin, more often than not, is related to aging. Because as you age, your skin tends to produce less sebum. So if you have dry skin, then you’ve got to choose a Korean serum with excellent skin hydrating and brightening properties.
What works the most effectively here is the best Korean Vitamin C serum. Around 5-percent of Vitamin C is enough to brighten your complexion while also protecting your skin. You should also know that Vitamin C tackles skin aging-related issues like fine lines and wrinkles too. And it minimizes the appearance of sunspots.
A Korean serum concentration with 5% Vitamin C is safe for those with sensitive skin as well. But what about formulas that contain a higher amount of Vitamin C, let’s say as high as 20%? In that case, Korean skincare brands neutralize the higher amount with the help of stabilizing and hydrating ingredients such as black chokeberry.
Other useful ingredients commonly added to dry skin-specific Korean serums are allantoin, hyaluronic acid, and panthenol. These do an exceptional job when it comes to soothing and hydrating dry, dull skin.
What is the best Korean serum for sensitive skin? It’s a simple question that demands a simple answer. A formula that contains gentle and natural ingredients. Meaning no harsh preservatives, artificial fragrances, and dyes.
I have reviewed many Korean serums specifically created for sensitive skin. These special formulations are equipped with ingredients like chamomile, and so and so. And what they do is dramatically hydrate your skin. And also balance the natural pH level without triggering skin sensitivities or allergies.
You can also look for labels like “dermatologist-tested.” This ensures that the serum is specifically formatted to suit even the most sensitive skin.
It’s very common for your cheeks to be dry but your T-zone to be oily. So if your skin type is a mix of both dry and oily, then you require something that caters to that specific need. Meaning a Korean serum that provides hydration and, at the same time, eliminates excess oil.
Look for a formula with moisturizing and skin-repairing properties. The former helps in getting rid of dry skin patches. And the latter does the task of healing damaged skin. This means fewer oily zones and enlarged pores. The star ingredients in this category include hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid, aloe vera, green tea extract, Centella Asiatica, etc.
Vitamin C in Korean Serums (What Does it Do?)
I have already discussed how Vitamin C in Korean serums performs the task of brightening the complexion and protecting the skin. It has ample of anti-aging benefits too in the sense that Vitamin C helps in getting rid of wrinkles and fine lines.
The majority of Korean serums I’ve reviewed are equipped with Vitamin C. And that’s because skin-brightening and complexion-clearing is a huge part of K-beauty skincare.
In Korean serums, Vitamin C takes the form of a water-soluble nutrient. It offers antioxidants that prevent damage often caused by harmful free radicals. Speaking of Vitamin C derivatives, what are the most common ones used in Korean serums?
There’s L-ascorbic acid for skin brightening and anti-aging. But the sad part about L-ascorbic acid is that it oxidizes very quickly when exposed to air and light. The result of this is an effective Korean formulation. So you have to make sure that this particular Vitamin C derivative is stabilized.
Moving on, the next option is magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. These two forms of Vitamins C work best for skin brightening and collagen production. The latter implies excellent anti-aging benefits.
So to sum it up, what does Vitamin C in Korean serums actually do?
Vitamin C in Korean Serums Prevents Hyperpigmentation
Does Vitamin C in K-beauty formulations actually prevent hyperpigmentation? Yes, it absolutely does! And here’s how.
The thing about topical Vitamin C is that it reduces tyrosinase activity. Tyrosinase is an enzyme responsible for melanin formation. And Vitamin C minimizes this activity of tyrosinase by connecting with copper ions. In simple words, it mimics the formation of melanin, thus preventing hyperpigmentation.
But one thing you need to understand here is that Vitamin C-infused Korean serums are not the only solution if you want to get rid of your hyperpigmentation completely. For that, you have to make it a point to protect your skin against the harmful rays of the sun by applying broad-spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen on a daily basis.
Vitamin C in Korean Serums Fades Acne Marks
Acne marks are such a common skin concern, are they not? If you agree, then you’re more likely to buy a Korean serum formula enriched with Vitamin C. And that’s because Vitamin C doesn’t disappoint when it comes to naturally fading acne marks over time.
But how does this happen? The process is quite simple. Vitamin C has a very powerful capacity to stimulate collagen production. And more collagen in your skin cells means faster healing.
Just make sure to wear your sunscreen during the day since Vitamin C also mimics the formation of melanin. And melanin darkens spots when you’re in the sun. So apply sunscreen along with your Vitamin C Korean serum to prevent sun damage and dark spots.
Difference Between Korean Serums and Moisturizers (What Goes First?)
I’m sure you know that most serums are slippery in terms of texture. Slippery and not oily, mind you. The formulas are packed with active ingredients in the form of tiny molecules. These have the capacity to penetrate your skin both quickly as well as efficiently.
It’s this highly concentrated and lightweight consistency of Korean serums that differentiate them from Korean moisturizers. The latter is certainly heavier in terms of feel. So it produces a thicker hydration barrier as opposed to permeating your skin. Due to this, it’s important that you apply the serum after cleansing and toning your face. And before using any face moisturizer or cream.
Difference Between Korean Serum, Essence, and Ampoule
So what does a Korean essence do? What about the difference between serum and essence? And when to actually use an ampoule? Let’s find out right away!
Once you cleanse your face and apply toner, the first Korean product that goes on is the serum.
The simple explanation of serum is a formula with just a few primary ingredients for addressing specific skin concerns. Such as wrinkles, dark spots, brightening, etc. These active ingredients are usually highly concentrated. Much more than moisturizing creams. Korean serums also have a thicker, oil-like consistency.
What in the world is a Korean essence? To be honest with you, serum and essence are not very different in terms of form and function. However, there is a slight variation you might want to know about.
Traditionally speaking, an essence is less concentrated and more lightweight than a serum. At least in most cases! This too you can apply after cleansing and toning your face. But before using a serum. Even essences are packed with high concentrations of most active ingredients.
This one’s simple to differentiate. Korean ampoules are supercharged with much higher concentrations of active ingredients. This means you use these super-charged formulations for a limited period. Or as a form of a booster! This explains why Korean ampoules come in relatively smaller bottles than serums and essences.
Should I Use a Toner or Serum, Or Both?
Time for some toner talk with you.
Why is it so important to use a toner after cleansing the face? Toners have come into existence because of the harsh properties of face washes that tend to increase your skin’s natural pH levels. So, at such times, what a toner does is stabilize the pH balance.
But the skincare industry is now equipped with gentle facial cleansers that don’t disrupt your pH levels anymore. Even so, toners are packed with antioxidants or other beneficial ingredients that certainly help your skin in some way or the other.
So does that mean you should use a toner with serum? Well, as long as your face wash doesn’t contain harsh ingredients or chemicals, you can ditch the toner for a Korean serum. K-beauty serum formulations, much like toners, are capable of providing your skin with antioxidants, hydration, and whatnot.
In this post, you’ll find the best Korean serum for combination skin, dry skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin, and sensitive skin. That’s for sure!
Let me also bring to your attention that Korean women include 8 to 12 products into their daily skincare routine. That’s how much they desire dewy, clear skin. So it’s no surprise that Korean brands are constantly striving to manufacture the best products. In that case, it’s time for you to devour a slice of that pie.