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Barbecue, pop music, technology, skin care products — these are just a few things Korea does best. To focus specifically on the latter category, though, let’s talk about the vitamin C serums being turned out by Korean beauty brands. They contain high concentrations of vitamins C, are balanced out by other, nutrient-rich ingredients, and boast eminently reasonable price tags, making them some of the best vitamin C serums you can get your hands on, period. To find the best Korean vitamin C serum for you, take your pick from the list below.
Before you do that, though, pick up one of the best Korean sunscreens to layer on top of your vitamin C serum. The two products are like the dynamic duo of skin protection, since vitamin C helps block free radicals, which — along with the sun’s rays — are one of the most common contributors to skin damage. Like salt and pepper, these products complement one another wonderfully, and should be used every morning for best results.
With that in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best vitamin C serums from K-beauty brands; you don’t have to travel to Seoul to buy them, because each one can be found on Amazon (for under $40, no less).
1. The Overachiever
This serum from NEOGEN contains a potent 22% sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C, as well as collagen and hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated and plump. But its list of hero ingredients doesn’t end there: It’s also rich in vitamins E and B3, and niacinamide — everyone’s favorite, does-it-all ingredient whose benefits are almost too many to name. For the ultimate glow, prep your skin with the brand’s cult-favorite exfoliating pads before slathering on this serum (followed by a generous layer of sunscreen, of course).
2. The Minimalist One
On the other end of the spectrum, Mizon’s Real Vitamin C Ampoule contains just 10 ingredients total, including 19% vitamin C in the form of absorbic acid. Because it doesn’t contain any water, it’s as potent as the NEOGEN serum featured above (the lack of water in here also helps keep the vitamin C stable). The brand also included arbutin in the formula for even more complexion-brightening benefits, making this a particularly great pick if your goal is clearer, more even-looking skin.
3. The Cult Classic
You can’t talk about Korean vitamin C serums without mentioning the KLAIRS Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop — the OG Korean vitamin C serum, if you will. It contains 5% ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), so it’s less potent than the other serums on this list, but it’s also loaded with centella asiatica extract, an ingredient beloved in Asian skin care for its purported healing benefits. At just $22, this cult-classic serum is a great deal as well.
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Here’s another great deal: This $25, three-step set from Goodal — a great introductory kit for the vitamin C newbie. In each box, you get a 20-milliliter serum, two pairs of under-eye patches, and a tub of 20 exfoliating pads, all loaded with vitamin C derived from green tangerine. If you wind up falling in love with the serum, you can buy a full-sized bottle here.