In Korean beauty regimens, serums are king. There are a few other products that are nonnegotiables — eye cream, moisturizer, and SPF, namely — but serums are perhaps the most highly regarded of the bunch because of their targeted approach to specific skin concerns and high concentration of active ingredients. Many of the best Korean serums are even more potent than their U.S. counterparts and often use innovative ingredients you wouldn't find elsewhere.
Similar to your search for any other beauty product, when shopping for a serum, you want to take into consideration your skin type. Drier skin will benefit from hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid to retain moisture, vitamin E to soften, and even glycolic acid, which will gently exfoliate and help your moisturizer or night cream penetrate deeper. On the opposite end of the skin spectrum, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you'll want to look for serums that contain soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients like centella asiatica or even sake. Both are natural ways to target oil production and clear skin.
If you're more concerned with achieving an even texture and fading hyperpigmentation, look for a formula with vitamin C. The supercharged brightening ingredient can also help protect skin from environmental damage and boost collagen production.
To help get you started, here are six of the best Korean serums you can buy online.
1. The Best Korean Serum For Hydration
Ideal for dry and even sensitive skin types, the Mizon Skin Energy Hyaluronic Acid Serum is formulated with a 50 percent concentration of hyaluronic acid, so you know you're getting the powerful ingredient's full benefits. While hyaluronic acid draws and holds moisture to the skin, ceramides also work to prevent moisture loss by strengthening the skin's barrier.
"This is very lightweight, but feels rich and hydrating," writes one reviewer, who adds, "It absorbs quickly and leaves no sticky or shiny residue, but it primes my skin and plumps it." Another Amazon user who calls the serum "magic" shares: "I've been suffering from flaky, dry skin lately and nothing [was] helping … I used this twice, and my dry skin is gone."
2. The Best Korean Serum For Brightening
Whether you're looking to brighten skin or reduce signs of sun damage, vitamin C should be your go-to ingredient. The Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum uses 5 percent vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, plus, it includes ingredients like grapefruit extract and yuja fruit extract that are other natural sources of vitamin C. Klairs also included centella asiatica in this serum, which is popular in K-beauty products for its moisturizing benefits and for being rich in natural antioxidant and amino acid properties.
3. The Best Korean Serum For Oily Skin
Designed specifically for oily skin types, the SkinFood Peach Sake Pore Serum uses sake and peach extract as its two prime hero ingredients. Sake is a type of rice wine that produces kojic acid through fermentation, which has a brightening effect on skin. It's also full of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that help tighten pores, boost collagen production, reduce sebum production, and leave skin softer. Meanwhile, peach extract is also rich in vitamins and minerals, mainly vitamins A and C, which can help reduce free radical damage and the appearance of acne scars. SkinFood also included silica powder in the formula, which is a mineral that creates a matte effect on skin by absorbing excess oil.
4. The Best Korean Serum For Acne-Prone Skin
To clear up acne while keeping skin hydrated, CosRx's Blemish Spot Clearing Serum relies primarily on centella asiatica. While it's an effective herb on its own for treating inflammation that comes with acne, CosRx created their CentellAC-Rx complex, which is formulated with three centella asiatica-derived ingredients each with their own targeted approach. Madecassic acid protects and calms the skin, asiaticoside clears up blemishes, and asiatic acid helps strengthen the skin's barrier and keep things balanced. Additionally, the serum contains collagen-boosting EGF and niacinamide to help fade redness.
"Love the water-weight texture to this, and how well it works on calming down acne spots," writes one Amazon user. Another shares how great it is for sensitive skin, writing, "My skin is combination, but also very sensitive with slight acne that comes and goes. My favorite thing about this serum is that it is soothing, and it really does help with redness."
5. The Best Skin-Plumping Korean Serum
If you want to plump up your skin and give it a healthy glow, add Easydew's DW-EGF Easyup Serum to your nightly routine. Highly trusted in Korea (Easydew has been awarded a best dermatologist cosmetic brand award), this essence-serum hybrid uses EGF, which is known as the "youth protein," according to the brand. We naturally produce this protein on our own, which is responsible for producing collagen and elastin. In this formula, Easydew has replicated that protein to stimulate your body to produce more collagen and elastin for naturally plumper skin.
6. The Best Exfoliating Korean Serum
For gentle exfoliation, Mizon's AHA Peeling Serum uses glycolic acid, which works on the epidermis to smooth skin, help lighten hyperpigmentation, and stimulate collagen production, resulting in a clear, healthy, even-looking complexion. The chemical exfoliator also helps improve your skin's moisture content because the exfoliation allows for the products from the rest of your routine to penetrate deeper.
Fans of the serum on Amazon note that it does everything from brighten skin and reduce pore size to even clear up blemishes. One user writes, "I have oily-combination skin and use this a couple nights a week. It's really cleared up blemishes and gave me a nice glow with baby-soft skin." Another says, "The texture of my skin has been improving wonderfully and [is] feeling nice and smooth," adding, "The formulation is very gentle and isn't drying on me."
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