Best Korean Whitening Creams for your Skin in 2023

In this article, we have shared the best Korean whitening creams for glowing skin and for any skin type.

If you are a kbeauty fan, you likely have heard about kbeauty trend of skin whitening products. When you hear the term ‘whitening’, you instantly think about the literal meaning of it, which means ‘bleaching’ or turning a color white.

For some countries, ‘skin whitening’ is a sad reality coming from a dark past where women would bleach their skin with toxic chemicals to fit some unrealistic beauty standard.

So, why is this huge industry promoting this?

The truth is that the term ‘whitening’ in kbeauty industry has an entirely different meaning. This term refers to using skincare products that contribute to the skin’s overall health.

Koreans believe that healthy skin looks bright, glowy, and luminescent. Therefore the terms whitening or brightening are used.

Why do we need Korean whitening products?

All of us, at least once, have experienced hyperpigmentation. Due to sun exposure, genetics, acne scarring, and hormones, our skin can get various forms of hyperpigmentation, such as dark spots, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and erythema.

Not only this, but different internal and external factors affect our skin, making it look dull and lifeless. Kbeauty whitening products, such as toners, serums, or creams, include many ingredients that brighten hyperpigmentation, give skin life, and make it healthy.

These products include active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide, and exfoliating acids as well as many botanical extracts that add more value to the products.

Korean Whitening Creams

Best Korean Whitening Creams: Our Top Picks

We have carefully chosen a few korean whitening creams that we recommend for anyone who is experiencing any of the concerns mentioned above. Let’s take a look at them so you can choose the right one for your skin type.

1.Nacific Phyto Niacin Whitening Tone up Cream

Nacific Phyto Niacin Whitening Tone-up Cream has many active ingredients that even overall skin tone making your complexion uniform. It is formulated with niacinamide, which has skin-brightening effects, as well as bamboo extract, adenosine, and peptides.

These ingredients have revitalizing effects on the skin, besides brightening up skin tone and moisturizing properties. They contribute to overall skin health and have antioxidant benefits. Peptides are known for their anti-aging benefits, so consistent use of the cream will improve fine lines as well.

Another way that Nacific’s cream offers a whitening effect on the skin is due to its tone-up properties. Tone-up products are very common in Kbeauty world.

These products are specifically made to brighten skin complexion as well as fight hyperpigmentation and discolorations. Due to the presence of titanium dioxide, this cream has a slight white color and instantly makes skin whiter and even. It is also an excellent base for make-up.

Who is it for: For every skin type. Make sure to distribute it evenly.

Where to find it:

2. APLB Glutathione Brightening Tone Up Cream

The star ingredient in this cream is Glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin and protects it against environmental damage.

It is a peptide composed of three amino acids (cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine) that synergize to brighten skin’s dull complexion and uneven tone while restoring the skin barrier.

At a percentage of 2% in a product, it can fade discolorations because of its ability to inhibit an enzyme on the skin’s surface that triggers hyperpigmentation.

APLB Glutathione Brightening Tone Up Cream is formulated with niacinamide and ascorbic acid, which also contribute to brightening and whitening the skin as well as fading dark spots, hyaluronic acid, and collagen, which give the skin hydrating and lock in moisture.

This cream is enriched with Leaf 4X complex (tea tree extract, mugwort extract, camellia extract, and Centella extract) that soothes the skin and helps it restore itself.

 Who is it for: It is suitable for every skin type including aging skin.

Where to get it:

3. COSRX The retinol 0.1% Cream

Retinol is the gold standard when it comes to treating photoaging. It’s a derivative of Vitamin A, available over-the-counter in many skincare products. Retinol has many benefits for the skin. When it comes to whitening the skin, it’s the top ingredient.

It reduces hyperpigmentation, dark spots, red spots, and post-acne marks through two mechanisms. One is that retinol increases skin cell turnover and removes dead skin cells.

This way, retinol exposes new skin and helps it restore itself while fading hyperpigmentation. The other mechanism is that retinol causes dispersion of the melanin granules in the epidermis, which helps reduce hyperpigmentation in treated areas.

Another great benefit of retinol is that it fights signs of aging. It increases collagen production resulting in lesser fine lines and wrinkles.

You will have whiter and smooth skin in a couple of months with consistent use. Start with using it 1-2 times a week and increase the frequency until you can tolerate it every night.

Who is it for: The retinol 0.1% cream is perfect for everyone, even for beginners, due to its low concentration of retinol.

Where to get it:

4. Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Gel Cream

Shiseido is a Japanese luxury brand very popular worldwide for many reasons. Their White Lucent Brightening Cream is the perfect choice for anyone looking to achieve whiter, smoother skin while fighting signs of aging.

The star ingredients in this cream are Yoshino Cherry Extract which improves the dullness of the skin, and Sakura-Bright complex, which supports the skin barrier and promotes healing.

A study conducted by Shiseido demonstrated that after one week, 93% of participants felt that the product improved skin’s dullness, and after four weeks, 89% of the participants felt that the product improved the appearance of dark spots.

Consistent use of this cream twice a day will give your skin a noticeable whiteness and make it feel and look more supple and smooth. Shiseido is also known for high-quality and luxurious products so you get what you pay for.

Who is it for: Oily skin type

Where to get it:

5. Axis-Y Dark Spot Correcting Glow Serum

Axis-Y is a relatively new Korean brand that has gotten extremely famous very quickly. The reason is simple: they make effective skincare products, and people love them.

Dark Spot Correcting Glow Serum was created to heal the skin inside out and boost people’s confidence. It implies that it is a serum, but it has a thin lotion consistency.

The star ingredient in this product is niacinamide at a 5% concentration. This percentage of niacinamide is quite refreshing to see because usually, brands aim for 10% (sometimes even higher than that), but that is not the amount that has data research.

10% is too high and most people suffer from irritation and breakouts. Niacinamide is a very popular ingredient that brightens and whitens skin tone, targets dark spots, and diminishes them.

Like every other Korean skincare product, it is enriched with different plant extracts that add more value to the product and serve different purposes.

Rice bran, sea buckthorn, and calendula extract brighten the skin and fade post-acne scars, while allantoin and plant-derived squalane help the skin heal itself and moisturize it.

Who is it suitable for: any skin type especially oily and acne-prone skin types. It requires a moisturizer on top

Where can you find it:

6. Ti’am Vita B3 source and My signature Red

This was supposed to be an article about whitening creams, but when it comes to whitening, I cannot leave out these two serums. Vita B3 source is a lightweight serum formulated with 10%  niacinamide and 2% alfa arbutin.

This is a powerful combination of two highly concentrated ingredients makes a perfect duo for skin whitening. Niacinamide, at this concentration, not only does a great job at whitening discoloration, brightening the skin, and evening out skin tone, but it also does wonders for oily skin.

It controls sebum production; it makes oily skin look less oily, makes the pores look less visible and it prevents and heals acne. This serum is an excellent product for oily and acne-prone skin types because it can make a difference, even in acne control.

In combination with alfa arbutin, they can transform the skin and make it look brighter. Niacinamide and alfa arbutin have different mechanisms of action (one fades hyperpigmentation and the other inhibits enzymes that stimulate melanin production) but this just makes it even more effective.

Who is it for: Oily and acne-prone skin types as well as any other skin type that can tolerate the high percentage of niacinamide.

On the other hand, My Signature C source is a vitamin C serum formulated with 20% pure ascorbic acid. Vitamin C has been, for many years, the golden standard when it comes to fading hyperpigmentation.

It is one of the most researched ingredients, and it’s proven to reduce wrinkles and discolorations. This serum, in particular, is formulated in a very special way.

Its texture sits on the skin beautifully and gives an instant glowy effect. With consistent use, your skin will appear brighter and healthier.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can reverse and protect the skin from the damage of UV rays.

Who is it for: For every skin type.

Where to buy them:

Answering some FAQs about Korean Whitening Creams

1. Can you really whiten your skin with korean whitening creams?

To answer this question, we must define the context of the term ‘whitening’: are we talking about turning your skin color a few shades lighter or are we talking about getting rid of uneven skin tone?

If we are talking about the former, it’s not possible to whiten your skin color with safe methods. Our skin color is genetically programmed.

The Fitzpatrick scale classifies people’s skin type based on their skin color. Since skin color is genetic, it is impossible for you to change it. Bleaching is an unsafe method with extreme consequences on the skin, and it’s strictly prohibited. 

But, if we are talking about evening out your overall skin complexion, then we can say yes, this is doable and whitening creams work and are a safe method to use.

Hyperpigmentation, and dark or red spots result from UV ray exposure, inflammation, acne and even hormones.

These are characterized by abnormal melanin production. Using whitening face creams with science-based active ingredients is an effective way to lighten hyperpigmentation and make your skin look brighter and healthier.

2. What is the best ingredient to brighten the skin?

Thankfully, the skincare industry has made huge progress regarding ingredient research, and there are a lot of active ingredients in the market proven to lighten overall skin tone.

These ingredients have different mechanisms of action, and strengths and any skin type can find the right one.

A few ingredients that are worth mentioning are vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide, azelaic acid, alfa arbutin, exfoliating acids, glutathione and plant extracts.

It’s hard to choose only one ingredient because it all depends on your skin type and the depth of the hyperpigmentation.

I would recommend a combination of different skin-lightening ingredients with different mechanisms of action. In this, way you can have a powerful combination of activities.

A suggestion can be using an AHA toner or serum 2 times a week and whitening face cream with alfa arbutin or retinol every day.

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To conclude, Korean culture is known for always being a pioneer in skincare with a very long history. The best skin whitening creams are Korean whitening creams because Korean women have used for centuries plants and flowers to create toners and creams for their skin tone.

Thanks to kbeauty industry, these face creams are available all around the globe and we strongly recommend trying them.

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