Skin-Care Junkies Are Convinced This $17 Vitamin C Serum Is the Best Affordable Dupe
The serum boasts a high concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid for an anti-aging and brightening formula that shoppers say works even better than some pricey competitors.
If you spend a disproportionate amount of time reading through Reddit’s skin-care threads and watching videos of luxury skin-care hauls, then you’re probably no stranger to Skinceuticals C E Ferulic (Buy It, $166, dermstore.com)...even if you've never actually splurged on it yourself. Beloved by everyone from skin-care fanatics to dermatologists, the pricey product has been heralded as the gold standard of vitamin C serums since launching a decade ago.
But now Amazon shoppers appear to have found a wallet-friendly alternative: The SeoulCeuticals Day Glow Serum (Buy It, $17, amazon.com). Developed by a Korean beauty brand, it uses many (but not all; more on that below) of the same ingredients as the Skinceuticals version—including vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E—for a powerful anti-aging formula that evens out skin tone, brightens complexion, and reduces signs of aging from fine lines and wrinkles. (Related: Jessica Alba Swears By This Vitamin C Serum for Younger, Brighter Skin)
Unlike other budget imitations, the serum is made with a stable form of vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), which functions as an antioxidant to ensure you’re getting the full range of skin-care benefits from vitamin C—which include preventing skin damage from sun and pollution. It also ensures the serum acts as a light exfoliant, similar to salicylic acid, to combat breakouts while brightening.
While the Shape team hasn’t tried the daily serum just yet, an esthetician and beauty writer reviewing it on Amazon revealed its “nearly identical in texture and performance” to Skinceuticals, adding that it leaves skin with a renewed radiance. Another former Skinceuticals addict agreed it has the same je ne sais quoi as the $166 formula, before divulging that it actually "might work better". (Want more picks? Check out this guide to the best vitamin C skin-care products.)
Of course, it’s not just dupe hunters seeking out this glow-inducing serum. It has more than 900 perfect five-star reviews, with multiple users declaring it their “holy grail” for smooth, porcelain-like skin. Even people with sensitive skin said they saw a noticeable difference—with no irritation—after incorporating this product into their daily routine. Plus, the hydrating formula smells wonderful like fresh citrus.
While reviews are telling, dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., warns that you're not getting the exact same product. While the ingredients might line up with another high-end product's formula, Dr. Gohara says they each go through different research and development, which can impact the final product’s efficacy. (Related: Top Dermatologists Share Their Holy Grail Skin-Care Products)
That said, people are clearly reaping some benefits of this affordable serum with shoppers giving it an impressive average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Its formula may not be the identical twin to the cult-favorite from Skinceuticals, but it's still got merit: it’s lightweight, fast-absorbing, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Not to mention, people are saying it's giving them the best skin of their lives. In a way, it’s almost just an afterthought that this $17 serum might be a knock-off considering it’s truly a standout product all on its own.