After you’ve perfected your core of Korean beauty products—which includes a cleanser, toner, moisturizer and sunscreen—you may want to dive into the world of Korean serums. Here is the best serum for your skin type.
For those unacquainted, serums typically have a slippery (but not oily) feel to them, and contain tiny molecules of active ingredients that are able to quickly—and efficiently—penetrate the skin.
This lightweight, highly concentrated formulation makes serums different from moisturizers, which are heavier and create a more hydrating barrier versus permeating the skin. Because of this, serums should be used after you’ve cleansed and toned and before you apply creams. Applying them in this order allows the product to reach your skin so it can do its job!
Today we’re breaking down serum recommendations by skin type to help you figure out which products are best for you.
Oily and acne-prone skin
Oily skin is most common in people who are under 30-years-old, but anyone can experience excess oil production. The most common complaint is a slick or shiny-looking face, but oily skin can also result in a higher likelihood of developing blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. This is because excess sebum causes enlarged pores, which then become a harboring ground for dead skin cells, dirt, and acne-causing bacteria.
For oily skin, we highly recommend the Cosrx Centella Blemish Ampoule , which contains centella asiatica leaf water to soothe your skin, heal existing acne, reduce sebum production, and prevent blemishes. (Ampoules, by the way, are just a slightly more concentrated serum.)
As mentioned, another common problem that oily and acne prone skin encounters is enlarged pores. This occurs when excess oil hangs out within your pores, slightly “stretching” them and making them appear bigger. By utilizing ingredients that reduce sebum production, you can noticeably reduce the size of your pores. The Neogen Pore-Aid Pore Refine Serum is an excellent option for this. It also helps keep skin matte throughout the day while providing just enough hydration, and is approved for sensitive and acne-prone skin.
People with sensitive skin react more strongly to ingredients and should therefore be more mindful in their product selection. As a rule, the purer the ingredient list is the better, and you should steer clear from things like “artificial fragrances,” dyes, and harsh preservatives.
Our top two serum recommendations for sensitive skin are the ENature Birch Juice Hydro Serum and the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum. As the name implies, the star ingredient of the first is soothing birch juice, of which the product boasts a 69% concentration. This serum also contains calming chamomile and plantain seed extracts. These ingredients work together to dramatically hydrate and balance pH levels without upsetting sensitive skin.
The Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum is a super nourishing, ultra-hydrating, veggie-laden cocktail for your face. It combines organic celery, carrot root, turnip, tomato, and broccoli extracts—along with other natural extracts—to both calm and hydrate sensitive skin. Neogen’s Pore-Aid Pore Refine Serum, mentioned above, is another option for you. It is dermatologist tested and approved, and is formatted specifically for sensitive skin types.
The primary concern for dry skin types is a lack of moisture, which becomes more of an issue with age since our skin produces less sebum as we get older. For that reason, dry skin types should use serums that are especially hydrating, as well as products that will help brighten the complexion.
For this, we recommend Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum, which is an award-winning and best-selling product on the site. This superstar serum contains 5% vitamin C, which not only brightens, but also protects the skin, helps reduce fine lines, and fades sun spots. Because it’s has a 5% vitamin C concentration, it’s also an excellent option for sensitive skin types.
A more potent option is Cosrx’s Triple C Lightning Liquid Serum, a collaboration between Charlotte and Coxrx. We recently launched this product on the site and it sold out within hours, but don’t worry—we’re making more! Triple C Lightning is special because it contains 20.5% vitamin C, a much higher concentration than what you’ll typically find in the existing market. This product is also made with 72% black chokeberry, which both stabilizes vitamin C and hydrates the skin. You can read more about the product here.
Since both of these serums contain high levels of exfoliating acids, we suggest layering on a nice hydrating moisturizer after to keep your dry skin properly moisturized.
When you have an oily T-zone but dry cheeks, you need a serum that’s going to hydrate you in the areas where you need moisture and eliminate excess oil in the other areas. The Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule is a cult favorite product among those with combo skin because it both moisturizes and repairs skin damage, resulting in less areas with enlarged pores and oily patches. Plus, its star ingredient—bifida ferment lysate—is a fermented yeast that helps to improve skin elasticity.