Skin Talk: Sulwhasoo Basic Line Skincare

Sulwhasoo Skincare Kit IV

Sulwhasoo is a well-known skincare company in Korea. Thanks to Emily at Tractenberg & Co., I was able to try out samples of a few products in Sulwhasoo’s Basic Line.

Because I tested only samples, I can’t testify to the long-term effects you’ll get with these products. But I can tell you what it was like using the products and a bit about the ingredients they contain.

First, all of the items have a faint ginseng scent. The smell is slightly herbal/medicinal. Even though I am personally not a fan of ginseng (the smell or taste), the scent in these products is very light and non-irritating.

You certainly don’t need to use all of the products in this kit each time you go through your skincare regime, but if you are using several of them at a time, I have some suggestions. Despite its name and Sulwhasoo’s claim that it “boosts the efficacy of skin care used throughout the regimen,” I wouldn’t use the First Care Serum first. You should start with the Balancing Water, which acts as a toner; toners should always be used first after washing your face and before applying any other skincare product. Next, apply the First Care Serum and Balancing Emulsion. Use the Concentrated Ginseng Cream last and on targeted areas (it’s expensive). I used it just under my eyes.

All the products are very emollient, hydrate the skin, apply smoothly, and absorb quickly.

Second, the ingredients. Admittedly, Sulwhasoo products are expensive; the full-sized versions of these items cost $55-$220 at Bergdorf Goodman. That said, the prices are comparable to counterparts in other department-store brands (La Mer, Clarins, Lancome). More importantly, these Sulwhasoo products contain ingredients proven to have beneficial effects for your skin–something that, despite their “high end” classification and pocket-emptying price-points, many other skincare brands’ products lack.

Below, I detail some of the beneficial ingredients each item contains. The ingredients I discuss are all found in the top half of the ingredient list, meaning there is a higher concentration of them in the product.

    First Care Serum
  • Licorice Extract: This is an anti-irritant that can help soothe skin inflammation.
  • Natto Gum: A potentially powerful antioxidant.
  • Camellia Sinensis: More commonly known as green tea, this ingredient is a good anti-irritant and antioxidant which, in turn, makes this a good anti-aging ingredient.
    Balancing Emulsion
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil: This oil serves as a stable emollient. Plus, the ingredient is non-fragrant–a bonus when it comes to skincare products.
  • Licorice Extract: This is an anti-irritant that can help soothe skin inflammation.
  • Camellia Sinensis: More commonly known as green tea, this ingredient is a good anti-irritant and antioxidant which, in turn, makes this a good anti-aging ingredient.
    Balancing Water
  • Camellia Sinensis: More commonly known as green tea, this ingredient is a good anti-irritant and antioxidant which, in turn, makes this a good anti-aging ingredient.
  • Licorice Extract: This is an anti-irritant that can help soothe skin inflammation.
    Concentrated Ginseng Cream
  • Squalene: Derived from shark liver or plants, this oil is a great emollient and antioxidant with skin-identical properties.
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil: This oil serves as a stable emollient. Plus, the ingredient is non-fragrant–a bonus when it comes to skincare products.
  • Licorice Extract: This is an anti-irritant that can help soothe skin inflammation.
  • Camellia Sinensis: More commonly known as green tea, this ingredient is a good anti-irritant and antioxidant which, in turn, makes this a good anti-aging ingredient.

A couple final notes: First, the featured ingredient in the Concentrated Ginseng Cream is, of course, ginseng. Although ginseng is not harmful to your skin, there are no conclusive studies that show it is beneficial when applied topically (on top of the skin). Second, all the items contain fragrance. Ideally, anything you put on your skin will not have a fragrance in it since all fragrances are skin irritants. That said, fragrance is the very last ingredient listed, so there is only a small amount of it in each item.

Overall, these products in Sulwhasoo’s Basic Line get a thumbs-up. They certainly aren’t perfect (they contain fragrance and are pricey), but they do contain effective, skin-benefiting ingredients that make them far-superior to many other expensive skincare brands.

Sulwhasoo Skincare Kit IV

Sulwhasoo Skincare Ingredients

Sulwhasoo Skincare Ingredients
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8 Responses to Skin Talk: Sulwhasoo Basic Line Skincare

  1. WT says:

    Hey Allura, happened to chance upon your blog post on Sulwhasoo. Just curious, why did you recommend putting on the toner first, before the First Care serum?

    :)

  2. Charlyne says:

    Hey there! Here are the sources I used (some from Chinese medicinal studies):

    1). “Herbs for Beauty: Imperial and Secret Herbal Formulas from Ancient China” by: M. D. Ph. D. Yan – pg. 16.

    2) “The Art and Science of Chinese Herbal Medicine” by: C. Kwong-Robbins, M.S. TCM, L.Ac., R.Ph., Pharm.D
    – We know Ginseng as a very warm (even hot) herb…
    “…while hot or warm herbs have properties to warm and stimulate the body…”
    “TCM employs the use of thermodynamics, the physiochemical science that deals with heat and energy, ie, the study of the flow of heat and its conversion into energy and vice versa” (this energy is concerted into our bodies – the ying & yang elements or qi, also discussed in the article)

    3) Ginseng – Ren Shen by: Alex Owen
    BSc. (Hons) TCM, Bachelor of Medicine (Beijing), Diploma Tuina, MATCM
    – Ren Shen (also known as Ginseng) “is classified as being sweet and bitter in flavour, while being slightly warm in property.”
    – “As Ren Shen is slightly warm and sweet it is able to warm (improve) the function and nourish the organs that it enters.”

    4) Journal of Accord Integrative Medicine
    – “Ginseng has different species, grows at different locations, and conducts in different roasting and broiling process: for example xi-yang-shen (cold), raw ginseng (flat), ginseng leaves and branches (cold), and red ginseng (warm).”
    ^ here, Sulwhasoo uses red ginseng, and red ginseng is very warm according to Chinese medicinal herbs.
    “The qi and herbal nature (cold, hot, warm and chill) all belong to energy flow element. The blood, jing, and ye belong to matter flow element.” <== adding 'heat' to the dry skin balances the skin because the person lacks the yang.

    5) The Nature of Ginseng: From Traditional Use to Modern Researchby Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
    – "When it is used after preparation [steamed, red ginseng], its nature is warm. The slight sweet taste strengthens the yang; the somewhat bitter taste strengthens the yin."
    ^ Many more information in that article!

    Its actually quite interesting! P.s, I'm in no way defending Sulwhasoo lol, there are the sources you asked for :)

    Cheers ^.^

  3. Charlyne says:

    Hey, great review!

    When I first walked into the Korean store that sells Sulwhasoo, the sales lady told me how great Sulwhasoo was. So I ended up purchasing the Ginseng Cream which came with the little samples of toner, serum, and emulsion plus a firming/lifting cream.

    She told me that the fragrance listed is actually a natural fragrance of herbs that they mixed and put under “fragrance” instead of listing all of the herbs in the ingredient list. It does smell very natural though, doesn’t it? Also, there are no studies done in the Western world to prove Ginseng because they don’t do research on medicinal herbs! Which sucks actually because they’re so beneficial – studies have been done in Asia and parts of Europe.

    With that said, Ginseng is a “warm” herb, so it helps to warm up the skin and repel any “cold” or “dry” elements in your body, according to Asian (medicinal) philosophy. Plus, everything is nano-sized, so all the herbs go directly into the deepest layers of the skin, and doesn’t sit on top :)… hope this kinda helps the confusion :)

    • Allura says:

      I don’t believe there have been scientific studies proving any beneficial effect on the skin with Ginseng, European or otherwise. Could you please link or cite what studies you are referring to?
      Also, even if a fragrance is “natural,” it is usually still irritating to the skin.

  4. Soesje200 says:

    It is so great that you introduce us to ‘new’ items.

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