Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX Review
Having visited the Sulwhasoo spa back in November, I had a chance to learn more about the brand and its products. Sulwhasoo’s signature ingredient is ginseng and their entire line draws roots from Korean herbal medicine. Who knows if it’s just a placebo effect, but using products that have medicinal properties makes me feel better. I brought home several of their iconic products to try for myself and today I’ll be reviewing their First Care Activating Serum EX.
What It Is
This is a serum made with JAUM Balancing Complex, which features 5 herbal ingredients: Solomon’s Seal, Peony, Sacred Lotus, White Lily, and Rehmannia. JAUM feeds the skin, increases firmness, and gives the complexion a healthy glow. First Care is used immediately after cleaning so it can prep the skin to absorb your next product.
I got the 90ml version in a set for roughly $120. The 60ml retails for $84 on its own.
OPHIOPOGON JAPONICUS ROOT EXTRACT, GLYCYRRHIZA URALENSIS (LICORICE) ROOT EXTRACT, WATER, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, ALCOHOL, GLYCERIN, BETAINE, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, PAEONIA ALBIFLORA ROOT EXTRACT, NELUMBO NUCIFERA SEED EXTRACT, POLYGONATUM OFFICINALE RHIZOME/ROOT EXTRACT, LILIUM TIGRINUM FLOWER/LEAF/STEM EXTRACT, REHMANNIA GLUTINOSA ROOT EXTRACT, CHRYSANTHEMUM MORIFOLIUM FLOWER EXTRACT, PAEONIA SUFFRUTICOSA ROOT EXTRACT, CITRUS UNSHIU PEEL EXTRACT, ADENOPHORA STRICTA ROOT EXTRACT, LYCIUM CHINENSE ROOT EXTRACT, COIX LACRYMA-JOBI MA-YUEN SEED EXTRACT, ANGELICA TENUISSIMA ROOT EXTRACT, HONEY, ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS ROOT EXTRACT, BIOSACCHARIDE GUM-1, NATTO GUM, BETA-GLUCAN, SODIUM HYALURONATE, JUGLANS REGIA (WALNUT) SHELL EXTRACT, PORTULACA OLERACEA EXTRACT, ZIZYPHUS JUJUBA FRUIT EXTRACT, THEOBROMA CACAO (COCOA) EXTRACT, PEG/PPG-17/6 COPOLYMER, GLYCERYL POLYMETHACRYLATE, BIS-PEG-18 METHYL ETHER DIMETHYL SILANE, POTASSIUM CARBOMER, PEG-60 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, DEXTRIN, CELLULOSE GUM, ETHYLHEXYLGLYCERIN, CHONDRUS CRISPUS (CARRAGEENAN), PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, PROPANEDIOL, HYDROGENATED LECITHIN, PROPYLENE GLYCOL, DISODIUM EDTA, PHENOXYETHANOL, FRAGRANCE
Just at a glance this ingredient list looks quite impressive as many plant extracts stand out. For example, Ophiopogon japonicus root extract is full of saccharides*, which helps to hydrate and retain moisture in the skin. Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract (Sacred Lotus) protects the skin from UVB exposure and scarring, hydrates the skin, and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties^.
Aside from Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), there are no significantly harmful ingredients. Carrageenan adds fragrance and controls viscosity of the product- it is considered a comedogenic ingredient. This is paraben-free.
I’ll start with listing the things I like about this serum. It is a beautiful amber colored serum with a wonderful, light citrus fragrance that reminds me of being at the spa. Hydration is definitely there- I realized this when I decided to go a day without it and the difference was immediate. It’s also lightweight, absorbs well, and leaves the skin feeling very comfortable. I found the rest of my facial products penetrated the skin better than without it.
Now the downside is that I didn’t see a physical change in my skin tone or texture. I began using this serum in December of last year and so far I haven’t noticed any changes in glow or firmness. My skin didn’t react as positively compared to the time I used Su:m 37’s essence. Maybe if I use them together, it’ll have a more significant impact? I have been slowly incorporating the rest of the Sulwhasoo line I purchased into my routine so perhaps there will be a different outcome. Regardless, this serum standalone is just OK.
Given the price point of the First Care Activating Serum EX and the mediocre results I got, I would be hesitant to recommend this. It’s definitely a nice luxury to have, but I’d get a sample before dropping the benjamins!
* Reference: http://www.threecosmetics.com/
^ Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4596341/