Skincare trends come and go, but vitamin C is here to stay. Its anti-aging and brightening properties make it a multiplayer for various skin concerns: acne scars, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness and elasticity. It comes in various derivatives that can be found in everything from lightweight serums to creams. Meaning, it’s something everyone can incorporate into their skincare routine — regardless of age or skin type.
While vitamin C serums can be on the pricier side, there are plenty of affordable options. Some of the best ones on the market hail from South Korea, where people are the most loyal to using their sunscreen and brightening products. The Korean beauty industry (also known as K-beauty) was valued at $10.3 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $31.6 billion by 2029. Imagine the number of products and advancements in skincare technology that can come from an industry that big. And to think that they sell it for a friendlier price, that is amazing.
Check out some of our favorite vitamin C products on the market all available online. Use serums before your moisturizer. Remember to always patch test on a small area of your skin like the side of your neck or your inner arm before fully using a product on your face. And most importantly, if you’re using a vitamin c serum, you must use sunscreen afterwards to protect your skin from the sunlight.
Vari:Hope’s 8 Days Pure Vitamin C Ampoule
The Veri:Hope Vitamin C is a very light, creamy water-based vitamin C ampoule that contains 13.5% ascorbic acid. The product has gone through two stabilization processes to suppress its oxidation. So it has a longer shelf life than a lot of vitamin Cproducts. The alpha-bisabolol works in tandem with the ascorbic acid to boost the serum’s brightening effects.
Why we love it: It’s a lightweight formula that quickly absorbs into your skin. There is little to no scent and it has a longer shelf life than other vitamin Cproducts that usually oxidize before you get through the bottle.
Things to consider: If you have very sensitive skin, the pure ascorbic acid might cause some irritation. If it does irritate you, try mixing a few drops into your moisturizer instead of using it on your skin directly.
$27.52 on YesStyle.com
Missha’s Vita C Plus Spot Correcting & Firming Ampoule
Another immensely popular brightening product in South Korea, Missha’s Vita C ampoule is known for its impressive effectiveness in brightening the skin. It has a slightly thick consistency, but glides onto the skin beautifully. The ampoule brightens complexions, lightens sun spots and dark spots and improves skin’s elasticity.
Why we love it: Formulated with collagen, vitamin E, ceramide and hyaluronic acid, Missha’s Vita C ampoule has all the good stuff to improve your skin. It’s made with ethylated L-ascorbic acid, a vitamin Cderivative that is extremely stable and great daily use even on sensitive skin. The product has a 93.7% satisfaction rate in brightening and softening the skin, in addition to improving skin texture and elasticity.
Things to consider: If you’re a stickler for texture, this ampoule does have a thicker consistency than other lightweight formulas. It may be better for use in dryer seasons.
$16.90 USD on StyleKorean.com
Goodal’s Green Tangerine Vita C Dark Spot Serum
Goodal’s vitamin C line is a steady bestseller in South Korea. The product contains 70% green tangerine extract, making it a very gentle formula for those who are sensitive to ascorbic acid. It’s known for effectively brightening dark spots and pigmentation while also being mild.
Why we love it: In addition to the tangerine extract, the formula also contains green tea extract, which has anti-aging properties that further helps improve sun-damaged skin. The serum comes in a gel-like formula that is quickly absorbed into the skin, making it an easy step in your skincare routine.
Things to consider: If you aren’t a fan of citrus scents, this may be one to avoid.
$21.60 on global.oliveyoung.com
Numbuzin’s No.5 Goodbye Blemish Serum
Growing in popularity, Numbuzin is most known for their No.3 Skin Softening Serum, but their No. 5 Goodbye Blemish Serum is a rising best seller. It’s popularity stems from its gentle but effective ingredients that combine both ascorbic acids and plant-derived vitamin extracts to target blemishes and acne scars.
Why we love it: It not only evens out skin tone, but also hydrates the skin very well. You can use it all over your face or use cotton pads to make a makeshift sheet mask for problem areas on your skin. And because they use more gentle ingredients, this serum is great for those with sensitive skin.
Things to consider: In order to create a gentler formula, the serum contains a higher amount of plant-derived vitamins over ascorbic acid. This may mean that it will take more time to brighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation compared to formulas where ascorbic acid is higher on the ingredient list.
$28 on NumbuzinUS.com
Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop
One of the early “classics” of K-Beauty that entered the U.S., over one million bottles of Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop serum have been sold across 40 countries. That alone says a lot. Its 5% pure vitamin C concentration is gentle enough to not cause irritation, but potent enough to yield desirable results. It will help even out skin tone, tighten pores, brighten skin and fade pigmentation.
Why we love it: The formula includes centella asiatica extract, an ingredient used to treat wounds and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. So for it to be part of a vitamin Cserum means that the formula will ensure that there will be no irritation when applied.
Things to consider: Because this comes in a transparent bottle, you want to keep it in a place that is not in direct sunlight. Storing it in a cool and dry place away from the sun is key to preventing the serum from oxidizing quicker than you’d want.
$23 on SokoGlam.com
Innisfree True Care Vitamin C 20 Ampoule
The Innisfree vitamin C serum contains 20% ascorbic acid, making it one of the higher concentrations on this list. It’s a watery texture that is quickly absorbed into your skin. Some reviewers state that they saw a difference in just seven days with consistent use.
Why we love it: Oftentimes we want as much product as we can get, but when it comes to vitamin C, sometimes less is more. This innisfree serum comes in a 15 milliliter bottle, which may sound like a small mount. However, when you think about how quickly vitamin Ccan oxidize (naturally happens with consistent use and exposure to air and light), you don’t want to risk wasting your money on a good product.
Things to consider: The higher percentage of ascorbic acid may irritate sensitive skin. This particular vitamin C product would be best for veteran vitamin C users or those who literally have thicker skin.
$19.20 on StyleKorean.com
Laneige Radian C Cream
The only non-serum product on this list, the Laneige Radian C Cream combines 8.5% of 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, a vitamin C derivative, and vitamin E to brighten your skin. The non-comedogenic formula targets micro blemishes on your skin and soothes irritation and redness. Tests by Laneige show that dullness was reduced by 30% in two weeks.
Why we love it: It’s a cream! Instead of having an additional step with a serum, you get a two-for-one deal to brighten and hydrate with the Radian C Cream. It’s designed to also target skin irritation caused by blue light, too.
Things to consider: The packaging itself is a little misleading. You get little product compared to the size of the container.
$25.89 at Stylevana.com
WELLAGE Vitamin Toning One Day Kit 7-Pack
If you have a special event or a photoshoot, the WELLAGE Vitamin Toning will do you wonders. It contains 15 kinds of vitamins, including vitamin Cderivatives, and glutathione (great for anti-aging) to give you the most brightening effect. The ceramides also help to keep your skin barrier happy and healthy, too.
Why we love it: The formula contains a patented ingredient called Ha-aminosome, which combines four types of amino acids and eight types of hyaluronic acid. What does that mean? It means you have a whopping 12 layers of hydration from this product.
Things to consider: This kit is like a mini science experiment — can be fun for some and a hassle for others. In order to activate the serum, you need to break open two packets: one for the freeze-dried capsule and one for the solution. The capsule quickly dissolves and activates once you pour the solution onto it.
$26.43 at global.oliveyoung.com
GOOD (SKIN) DAYS’ C’s The Day Serum
C’s The Day Serum has been featured in a variety of publications, noting its gentle and effective is formulated with 10% pure vitamin C and other brightening ingredients like licorice root extract and niacinamide to improve dullness, even out skin tone and minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines. There’s an additional blend of ginseng and mushroom to further calm and nourish your skin. It’s a non-sticky texture, cruelty-free and vegan as well.
Why we love it: The low pH of 4 to 4.5 makes this suitable for even the most sensitive skin. The ingredient list is impressive and also includes something called antioxidant-rich camu camu, a fruit that contains 40 times more vitamin C than oranges.
Things to consider: Some customers noted that this product oxidized quickly. Make sure to keep it in a cool, dry area away from sunlight and if you can, keeping it in the refrigerator will ensure its longevity.
$26 on SokoGlam.com
SKIN & LAB Vitamin C Serum
The Skin & Lab Vitamin C Serum is made with 3-0 Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, so you don’t have to worry about it oxidizing or irritating your skin. Unlike most serums, this one contains tiny oil capsules made up of active ingredients to keep your skin moisturized and give it a nice glow.
Why we love it: The formula contains tiny oil capsules of Vitamin E to help hydrate your skin. Vitamin C can irritate and dry out your skin, so this ensures that you will stay hydrated and glowy.
Things to consider: If you have oily skin, this may be better for dryer months in the winter. While the formula is suited for all skin types, the texture may leave your oily T-zone too oily. If you have dry skin though, definitely worth a try.
$20.99 on Amazon.com