Sulwhasoo focuses on using hanbang, traditional Korean medicine, ingredients that are indigenous to Korea as well. The founder, Suh Sung-whan, took an interest in hanbang herbs and used these medicinal botanicals with science backed research found at Kyunghee University of Oriental Medicine. In 1966, Sulwhasoo was founded in the AmorePacific family and use their herb farms to harvest ingredients such as ginseng, lily, lotus, green tea and camellia. In 2019 and 2020, I was able to try quite a few products from them, with thanks to the generosity of Sulwhasoo sending them to me. ** unless noted otherwise, all products gifted from Sulwhasoo. All of these reviews originally were posted on my Instagram account @colebiancardi
Skin Type/Concerns: oily, blemish prone, aging concerns, pores, fine lines/wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation
I received these products complementary to review and was not paid. All reviews are my own honest opinion and I never have been asked to write copy for a brand. This blog post might contain promo codes, affiliate and referral links, which using my links will help generate a small commission that helps support my blog at no extra cost to you.
A $13.00 mask?? Is it worth it? Depends… Snowise Brightening Mask is made with white ginseng, which has been fermented for two weeks so that the brightening properties are concentrated. Korean ginseng has twice as many types of saponin, which are an anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti inflammatory and brightening ingredient and can aid in the production of collagen. It helps increase elasticity, improves blood circulation to your skin and also is a superb moisturizer. Sulwhasoo uses ginseng that is 4 years old, known for its higher saponin content.
The Snowise series contains a patented patented Volume Brightening™ complex, which uses white ginseng saponin and white ginseng polysaccharides, which helps reduce dullness and hyper-pigmentation with regular use. The mask is a cellulose mask (aka face condom) which I prefer over hydrogel masks ~ I like how they just stick on my face like that thing from Alien.
This cellulose mask is very thin, with two mesh protectors ~ it is a bit difficult to apply as not only is it really thin, there is a ton of opalescent watery essence, making the mask a very slippery dude that loves to fold in on its bad self. The essence smells lovely ~ like herbal lavender. The fit is a little small on the sides, but the nose is great for those who have long pointy noses (which I do not ~ lol) After 20 minutes, I removed the mask ~ it peels off like rubber ~ and my skin felt really hydrated, no sticky, tacky or filmy residue. My skin did look radiant overall and best of all, my pores looked a lot smaller! All of this is temporary, I know, but this mask is great to use for when you have a special event or date. I would use it prior to my skincare routine and not the night before.
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, dipropylene glycol, alcohol, diethoxyethyl succinate, oldenlandia diffusa extract, niacinamide, paeonia albiflora root extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, honey, hydrolyzed ginseng saponins (hydrolyzed white ginseng saponins), panex ginseng root extract, morus alba root extract, glycerin, glyceryl caprylate, dimethicone, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, methoxy PEG-114/polyepsilon caprolactone, behenyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, cetearyl alcohol, sodium methyl stearoyl taurate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, stearyl behenate, carbomer, caprylic/capric triglyceride, caprylyl glycol, trehalose, polyglyceryl-10 pentastearate, polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, polysorbate 20, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, hydrogenated lecithin, disodium EDTA, potassium hydroxide, 1,2-hexanediol, ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, fragrance cosDNA
My dear friend Anna at Instagram @maskaddict sent me Sulawhoo’s Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Creamy Mask, which is even MORE pricer than the Snowise ~ at $24.00 at pop. This mask uses Korean red ginseng and its derivatives:
- Antioxidant rich Compound K helps with the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles, enhances skin moisture and fights free radicals.
- Ginsenoside Re also helps with the signs of aging, smooths skin texture and improve skin moisture.
This also has some really rich moisturizing ingredients with squalane and shea butter ~ in fact, this formula is REALLY dense. I thought this might be a hydrogel, but it turns out this is a fabric sheet mask ~ it is a bit stretchy and there is a printed side, which faces out ~ this material is called a Double Wrapping Sheet™ as the printed side is actually a special film that prevents moisture evaporation (think of it like those foil masks)
This is a two piece mask and it comes in this plastic “bins” ~ there is a reason for that and that is the essence. If this was in a normal pouch, the essence could dry out or smear around too much ~ this richly ginseng scented essence is actually Sulwhasoo’s Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream! There isn’t a lot left over as it is really infused in the mask. The mask is a good fit, adheres nicely and due to the mask material, I could have left this on for at least an hour as it never seems to dry down. After 40 minutes, I removed the mask & noticed that on my oily skin, the essence doesn’t seem to absorb completely ~ I tapped it in and it still left a filmy residue that made my skin feel slick.
Since I used this mask as a part of my night time routine, that didn’t bother me at all. The next morning, my skin looked really great ~ very smooth, glowing and rested with no filmy residue left. This is a very expensive mask, but it is one of those masks that you should treat yourself to one now and then.
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, glycerin, squalane, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, arachidyl alcohol, dimethicone, behenyl alcohol, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, cyclopentasiloxane, arachidyl glucoside, cetyl ethylhexanoate, cyclohexasiloxane, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, phenoxyethanol, panax ginseng root extract, triethylhexanoin, butylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, polyacrylate-13, PEG-10 dimethicone, lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, polyisobutene, disteardimonium hectorite, methoxy PEG-114/polyepsilon caprolactone, fragrance, disodium EDTA, sorbitan isostearate, ethylhexylglycerin, honey, polysorbate 60, perilla ocymoides seed extract, dextrin, hydrolyzed ginseng saponins (enzyme-treated red ginseng saponins), polysorbate 20, lilium candidum bulb extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, glucose, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) flower extract, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, 1,2-hexanediol, gardenia florida fruit extract, alpha-isomethyl ionone, limonene, hydrogenated lecithin, linalool, panax ginseng flower extract, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, hexyl cinnamal, sodium polyaspartate, phytosphingosine, sodium methyl stearoyl taurate, tocopherol, pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate cosDNA
First Care Activating Serum EX in both original and Limited Edition scent Forest Morning: Firs tCare contains Sulwhasoo’s patented Juam Balancing Complex, a unique blend of five hanbang ingredients: Solomon’s Seal, peony, white lily, rehmannia and sacred lotus ~ which are brewed together for 18 hours and will help bring your skin back to its optional balance, helping to fight dry skin, dark spots and inflammation
This has fermented soybean and natto gum ~ fermented ingredients penetrate your skin more easily and deeper. Natto contains vitamins, amino acids and enzymes, along with PGA ~ polyglutamic acid. PGA helps moisturize and exfoliate old skin cells. It can penetrate to the deepest layers in your skin, locks in moisture and helps increase the production of NMF ~ Natural Moisturizing Factor. Finally, this is aged with all natural honey ~ honey being crucial for glowing moist skin and also helping fight and heal blemishes and other skin issues. This is a very concentrated serum so you don’t need a lot of product. I only used one or two pumps. This does contain alcohol, but I never have issues with that ingredient and it isn’t the death of your skin. In fact, I think the alcohol helps the product to not have a sticky or tacky residue. This has a pH level of a 5.
First Care means this product should be used as one of your first skin care products as it will help boost the efficiency of your next skin care steps. This doesn’t seem to be a fermented powerhouse, but it does have natto gum in here, so I will treat it like a First Serum. The Original First Care Activating Serum EX has that rich spicy herbal scent to it and the serum is a golden liquid that absorbs quickly into my skin, leaving my skin feeling supple and not greasy
In fact, I have been using it during the Boston heatwave of 2019 and it has left my skin feeling hydrated without making me feel like an oil pit. And there is an additional benefit: the radiance. This stuff makes my skin glow ~ I have aging skin so my youthful radiance is long gone (so many years now) and although I do not want dewy skin, I want skin that looks healthy and has an inner illumination. Sulwhasoo’s First Care returns that luminosity that is rarely found in my skin. This is an expensive product, but I do think that if you have older or dull skin, you should try a sample or two of this and see if this will be your glow-getter! I am a convert, which is why I am happy to have THE SECOND First Care Activating Serum EX in my skincare routine ~ Sulwhasoo came out with 4 limited edition scents, after their success of the LE Plum Blossom last year
- Gentle Blossom: Embody spring’s first bloom through the elegant floral scent of Plum Blossoms
- Forest Morning: Take a walk through a refreshing, green forest with White Sandalwood and Korean Pine
- Capturing Moment: Embrace the sweet and abundant energy of Korean Raspberry and Apricot
- Inner Fullness: Channel the grounding energy of strong, powerful roots through the timeless scent of Ginger and Ginseng
I was hard pressed to pick just one as ALL of them sound amazing ~ I went with Forest Morning as I love pine scents. The formula is the same as the original, with just the green cap marking the difference externally. The scent of Forest Morning is a lovely blend of soft pine with sandalwood ~ very light and not overpowering at all.
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, alcohol, glycerin, betaine, PEG/PPG-17/6 copolymer, glyceryl polymethacrylate, ophiopogon japonicus root extract, phenoxyethanol, bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, carbomer, tromethamine, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, fragrance, honey, juglans regia (walnut) seed extract, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, dextrin, lilium candidum bulb extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, xanthan gum, ethylhexylglycerin, portulaca oleracea extract, limonene, camellia sinensis leaf extract, disodium EDTA, phenyl trimethicone, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), linalool, biosaccharide gum-1, zizyphus jujuba fruit extract, natto gum, citronellol, citral, propylene glycol, geraniol, chlorphenesin, hydrogenated lecithin, BHT, sodium dehydroacetate, potassium sorbate, citric acid, sorbic acid, tocopherol cosDNA
Bloomstay Vitalizing Water which is a thicker than water toner. Sulwhasoo seems to hype up the green plum blossom and Korean yuja extracts, but those extracts aren’t even in the top 1/2 of the ingredients list, so I won’t really talk about them. This has great ingredients in the upper 1/3 without those, such as hydrating humectants glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, anti-bacterial, moisturizing, antioxidant honey, which is an instant glow-up for your skin; yeasty anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-wrinkle adenosine and finally, lotus. Antioxidant lotus is an underrated ingredient for blemish and oily prone skin ~ it clarifies while providing moisture to the skin. This also has a lot of hanbang botanicals – peony, Madonna lily, licorice, Korean pine, sesame, Chinese foxglove and Solomon’s seal, along with the yuja and plum blossom. So all in all, this is a very hydrating and antioxidant ingredient list which is also very anti-bacterial.
The packaging is on point with the tall pale pink glass bottle with the metallic rose cap. This water is thicker than water ~ it has some weight to it, but it still is very watery. This does have a floral scent to it, which isn’t too bad, but I wish it is was more herbal like Sulwhasoo’s other products. This has a pH level of about a 5, so it is skin balancing. This is very hydrating and moisturizing ~ it’s a nice step for adding in more moisture without any greasy or sticky residue. Now this is expensive for a hydrating toner that has a nice ingredient list and a pretty bottle. I feel that it should do more for that price tag. However, if you want it because it speaks to you, it does what it is supposed to do ~ hydrate
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, glycerin, alcohol, 1,2-hexanediol, glyceryl polymethacrylate, bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, PPG-13-decyltetradeceth-24, carbomer, tromethamine, ethylhexylglycerin, methoxy PEG-114/polyepsilon caprolactone, adenosine, fragrance, honey, sodium hyaluronate, disodium EDTA, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, phenoxyethanol, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, prunus mume fruit extract, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed extract, pinus koraiensis seed extract, chaenomeles sinensis fruit extract, rosa multiflora fruit extract, citrus junos fruit extract, dextrin, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, linalool, prunus mume flower extract, limonene, geraniol, benzyl benzoate, poncirus trifoliata fruit extract, BHT, tocopherol cosDNA
설화수 Perfecting Cushion Intense SPF50+/PA+++ I am in love! I have tried and love their Perfecting Cushion EX, but this is an anti-aging one, so it has some slight differences. First of all, can I just gush over the simple yet stunning ombre golden bronze compact with its mirror finish? It looks like I found an ancient Roman artifact. The base is dark matte metallic bronze finish as well. It is so beautiful ~ open it up, you see the cushion puff, open up the 2nd cover and there is the standard golden embossed design in plum blossoms ~ that attention to DETAIL is why Sulwhasoo is becoming a fast favorite of mine. Remove the foil and there is the lovely foundation-drenched cushion.
Just like the EX, this is full of good stuff, like brightening niacinamide and Madonna lily, moisturizing anti-bacterial honey, anti-oxidant rich plum blossom, skin balancing, oil controlling and hydrating lotus, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and brightening peony and something called Radiance Pearl Powder, which I assume is a complex including the mica, because there are no pearls in here ~ this helps brighten and bring a glow to your skin.
The star ingredient is red pine ~ which is anti everything ~ antimicrobial, anti-septic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and is rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamins A, C and E, which help combat free radicals. Pine contains tannin, so this will have a natural pore tightening effect as it is an astringent. It has been used to help treat skin issues, such as acne, eczema and itching. It will help tone and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
This cushion has the same create scent ~ its a bit herbal and a bit floral, and the shade is the same ~ I use 21 in both the EX and the Intense cushion. The difference is in the coverage. I find that the Intense cushion gives me more coverage with less applications than the EX ~ one application is more than enough for me as I like a light coverage, but with another application, it is medium coverage and a third application is full. EX is not like that, it is more sheer and never gets to full coverage, imho
The more layers I put on, the more moisturizing it is, so I rarely will go to full coverage ~ I have oily skin and this is a moisturizing cushion, but the finish is more satin than dewy. I do prime my skin first with a mattifying primer and I do powder my T-Zone after cushion application, but I normally have to do that with any non-mattifying foundation. Even though this is a bit more moisturizing than I am used to, my skin doesn’t feel greasy or oily when I use it.
Like most foundations, this does wear off after a few hours on my face, as I am so oily! However, I just re-touch up my face with this cushion and it doesn’t cake or separate on my face. This doesn’t oxidize either ~ and 21 is a good match for my neutral skin tone ~ it is very natural looking and not fake at all. This will be a repeat purchase. This comes in 7 shades and I hope they will add more colors to their range, like they did with the EX cushion, as everyone should be able to try this one! Have you tried any Sulwhasoo cushions? Which one(s)?
No. 21 Ingredients: water, cyclopentasiloxane, zinc oxide (CI 77947), titanium dioxide (CI 77891), glycerin, phenyl trimethicone, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, butylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, PEG-10 dimethicone, cyclohexasiloxane, niacinamide, lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, trehalose, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, butylene glycol, acrylates/ethylhexyl acrylate/dimethicone methacrylate copolymer, propanediol, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, pinus sylvestris leaf extract, honey, disteardimonium hectorite, lilium candidum bulb extract, mica (CI 77019), prunus mume flower extract, methoxy PEG-114/polyepsilon caprolactone, beeswax, sodium chloride, stearic acid, adenosine, aluminum hydroxide, ethylhexylglycerin, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, trimethylsiloxysilicate, triethoxycaprylylsilane, tin oxide, polysorbate 80, hydrogenated lecithin, hydrogenated castor oil, phenoxyethanol, iron oxides (CI 77492), iron oxides (CI 77491), iron oxides (CI 77499), fragrance cosDNA
Perfecting Cushion SPF 50+ in No. 21 ~ I had tried their Perfecting Cushion in both Intense and EX versions and loved both of them, so I wanted to see what their original cushion was all about. I chose the same shade as that really works well on my MAC NW20 type. This cushion includes JAUM Balancing Complex, a patented formula made up of Korean herbal water to help hydrate your skin while providing antioxidant benefits. It has hydrating and nourishing beta-glucan and hyaluronic acid along with skin brightening niacinamide. This cushion uses a film-fixing polymer formula which helps provide a seamless layer, dispersing the pigments with water instead of oil.
This is more of a sheer to light finish ~ one application gives my skin enough coverage to blur imperfections and two applications provides coverage to hide redness and blemishes. I found that this cushion is very “buildable” friendly, lightweight and best of all, oil free! The finish is not dewy but it is radiant and not matte. Is it long lasting? Most foundations wear off quickly within a few hours with my oily skin and this cushion is no exception. However, I can easily reapply it on the shiny spots without experiencing cakeyness. The coverage in the Perfecting Cushion line goes like this for me:
- Light -> Perfecting Cushion
- Medium -> Perfecting Cushion EX
- Medium-Full -> Perfecting Cushion Intense
I am a huge fan of Sulwhasoo’s cushions now ~ I have tried these three types and they all work well on my oily, dehydrated & aging skin type.
No 21 Ingredients: water, cyclopentasiloxane, zinc oxide (nano), titanium dioxide (CI 77891), ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, cyclohexasiloxane, titanium dioxide (nano), phenyl trimethicone, PEG-10 dimethicone, butylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, niacinamide, lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, glycerin, propanediol, acrylates/ethylhexyl acrylate/dimethicone methacrylate copolymer, polymethyl methacrylate, polyhydroxystearic acid, iron oxides (CI 77492), aluminum hydroxide, sodium chloride, trimethylsiloxysilicate, stearic acid, triethoxycaprylylsilane, fragrance, disteardimonium hectorite, butylene glycol, ethylhexyl palmitate, lecithin, isostearic acid, isopropyl palmitate, polysorbate 80, caprylyl glycol, iron oxides (CI 77491), hydrogenated lecithin, polyglyceryl-3 polyricinoleate, ethylhexylglycerin, glyceryl caprylate, iron oxides (CI 77499), disodium EDTA, adenosine, honey, acrylates/VP copolymer, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, beta-glucan, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, tocopherol, sodium hyaluronate cosDNA
With one of the longest names for a sunscreen ever ~courtesy of Qoo10, let’s meet the Hydro-Aid Soothing UV Protection Fluid SPF50+/PA+++. There are five chemical sunscreen filters in here: ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate/Octinoxate (UVA/UVB), ethylhexyl salicylate/Octisalate (UVB), diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate/Uvinul A Plus (UVA), BIS-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine/Tinosorb S (UVA/UVB), phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid/Ensulizole (UVB)
This has birch sap, which is great for hydrating, purifying and is an anti-inflammatory ~ containing 17 amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. This also has a slew of hanbang ingredients for moisturize, antioxidant and anti-aging care: ginseng, peony, big blue lilyturf, dwarf lilyturf, lotus, honey, licorice, Solomon’s seal, Madonna lily and Chinese foxglove.
This comes in the cutest baby blue bottle I have seen ~ it is 50 mL but it looks so SMOL. It has a pointy nozzle and I shake this a bit before applying. This is a fluid, which is why I wanted it for my oily skin, but it is a thicker fluid than Naruko (still my GO TO sunscreen) ~ and it has a floral scent (damn, I was hoping for that lovely hanbang scent that Sulwhasoo is known for). However, the scent goes away quickly and this absorbs really nicely, with no sticky finish or no pilling with my makeup and no cast either, as it is chemical.
It is moisturizing but I didn’t find it to be heavy as I used it thru the transitional weeks from warm to cooler weather. I am not sure I would like using this in hot humid summer months, but for fall and winter, I really like this a lot. I also love the size of this as it fits in my jean pocket!
Ingredients: water, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, propanediol, ethylhexyl salicylate, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, phenyl trimethicone, glycerin, BIS-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, ophiopogon japonicus root extract, methyl trimethicone, phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid, tromethamine, cetearyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, paeonia albiflora root extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, honey, panax ginseng leaf/stem extract, betula platyphylla japonica juice, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, glyceryl stearate, glyceryl caprylate, butylene glycol, ceteareth-12, stearic acid, silica, acrylates copolymer, potassium cetyl phosphate, polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate, polysorbate 60, hydrogenated lecithin, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, ethylhexylglycerin, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance cosDNA
Where To Purchase
Oh lots of places ~ I recommend using Sephora, Sulwhasoo, Qoo10, Jolse and YesStyle.
Snowise Brightening Mask 10 masks $130.00
Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Creamy Mask
First Care Activating Serum EX
Chinese New Year Version 120mL $140.00
Regular Size $84.00
YesStyle 90mL $104.00
Limited Edition Scents
- Nordstrom 2 oz $105.00
Bloomstay Vitalizing Water 150mL $75.00
Perfecting Cushion Intense SPF50+/PA+++
- YesStyle $74.00 15 g x 2, refill only $35.00
Perfecting Cushion SPF 50+
Hydro-Aid Soothing UV Protection Fluid SPF50+/PA+++ 50 mL
- Qoo10 prices vary ~ average is $45.00. If this is your first time shopping at Qoo10, I would love it if you used my referral link (click here)!
[ products received for review purposes. blog post contains affiliate links ]