Do you love luxury Korean skincare? Do you love hanbang, the usage of traditional Korean medicine using ingredients that are indigenous to Korea? Do you love masks? Are you on a budget? Believe it or not, Luxury Korean Beauty brand, Sulwhasoo not only focuses on using hanbang, but also has some very affordable masks that you can use and get great results! 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. Sulwhasoo sent me two of the masks featured here and I purchased the other two masks.
Skin Type/Concerns: oily, blemish prone, aging concerns, pores, fine lines/wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation
I received some of 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.
Wait? You thought I was talking about sheet masks? Nope, although Sulwhasoo does carry a few sheet masks, the masks I am reviewing today are wash off, peel away, scrub on and sleep in masks. They all come in vinyl squeezable tubes with a pretty decorative cap that flares out and has a flat bottom, so you can stand your tubes of delight in an upright fashion
The first mask is this lineup is the cult classic Overnight Vitalizing Mask, in a renewed formula that will provide more effective benefits. In case you didn’t know it, this is a sleeping mask pack, to be used at night, as the last step in your skincare routine. Full of emollients, skin softeners and moisturizers, this nourishing luxury sleeping mask pack is one of Sulwhasoo’s most affordable products. It is still expensive compared to other brands, but for Sulwhasoo, $54.00 is pretty cheap and this is a great way to get into their brand without spending hundreds of dollars. This not only has all of the skin moisturizing goodies in here ~ hydrating humectants glycerin and glucose to help attract and bind moisture to the skin, moisturizing and nourishing squalane and shea butter and topping it off with dimethicones to seal in all of that hydrating moisture. This has traditional Korean herbs that provide nourishment and radiance to your skin ~ lotus, peony, licorice, mulberry bark are all known for their skin brightening benefits. Also found here is natural honey ~ honey being crucial for glowing moist skin and also helping fight and heal blemishes and other skin issues.
And what is a Sulwhasoo product without ginseng? Korean ginseng has twice as many types of saponin, and ginseng is used in anti-aging skin care products, as it is can stimulate the skin and activate the blood flow, which will increase toning and production of new skin cells. It also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reverse damage caused by free radicals, such as hyper-pigmentation and also combat free radicals to prevent new skin damage of fine lines and wrinkles. Applied topically, it helps stimulate collagen production to promote cellular renewal. It helps increase elasticity and firmness, improves blood circulation to your skin, strengthen skin and also is a superb moisturizer. Sulwhasoo uses ginseng that is at least 4 years old, known for its higher saponin content.
This new version contains Sulwhasoo’s patented Nutritive RED Elixir formula with anti-aging pomegranate and jujube extracts. Pomegranate contains female hormones estrogen and estradiol, which helps aid in collagen production, keeping your skin thicker and more healthy. Pomegranates also contains antioxidants fatty acid punicic acid, polyphenols and vitamin C, which helps brighten your skin and combat free radical damage, helping to slow down the effects of photo aging. Antioxidant rich jujube dates are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and will help improve elasticity and firmness in your skin, as it promotes new cell growth.
Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, glycerin, cetyl ethylhexanoate, 1,2-hexanediol, squalane, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, di-C12-13 alkyl malate, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate, cyclohexasiloxane, trehalose, C14-22 alcohols, palmitic acid, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, hydrogenated castor oil isostearate, hydroxypropyl starch phosphate, PEG-100 stearate, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, C12-20 alkyl glucoside, polyacrylate-13, phytosteryl/behenyl/octyldodecyl lauroyl glutamate, C12-16 alcohols, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, tromethamine, fragrance, xanthan gum, ziziphus jujuba fruit extract, glyceryl caprylate, juglans regia (walnut) seed extract, limonene, polyisobutene, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, hydrogenated lecithin, morus alba root extract, disodium EDTA, ethylhexylglycerin, dextrin, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, honey, linalool, polysorbate 20, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, sorbitan isostearate, panax ginseng root extract, punica granatum fruit extract, propanediol, citronellol, citral, geraniol, myristic acid, arachidic acid, glucose, benzyl benzoate, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, tocopherol, punica granatum flower extract cosDNA
The mask is super creamy and smells divine! It has that wonderful hanbang scent of herbs, which I love, but it isn’t a rich earthy scent ~ it is like candied lemon ginger/ginseng. The texture is more lightweight than I expected, more on the lines of a gel cream, very silky and smooth.
It sinks into the skin easily, leaving no sticky or greasy residue. My skin feels very supple and moisturized at this point. In the morning, all traces of the sleeping pack is gone, as it has completely absorbed into my skin. Sulwhasoo states to cleanse you face only with water, but I use a normal cleanser & that seems fine. My skin has a nice healthy glow, feels soft and looks rejuvenated without any clogged pores or blemishes and no moisture loss. This overnight mask pack ranked Number 1 for four consecutive years in the mask category in Korea ~ *Beauté Research 2015-2018.4Q, based on cumulative sales in Korea
Sulwhasoo has a new mask ~ the Herbal Clay Purifying Mask is a wash-off clay mask that contains the classic Korean Traditional Herb Complex for soothing skin care. On the west coast of South Korea, the Yellow Sea is one of the most valuable mudflats in the world ~ Sulwhasoo sources their Muan clay and sea silt, refined particles using the natural tidal forces and are less than a few dozen microns in size: kaolin, helping remove dirt and debris on your skin, while absorbing excess oil and reducing shine. Very good for oily and blemish-prone skin; bentonite clay smooths, exfoliates, cleanses pores & improves overall skin tone; sea silt is rich in minerals, salts, sulfur and it helps absorb excess oil.
Silica strengthens the cells in our skin, in-between the collagen and elastin fibers, which plumps up our skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as slowing down the production of new wrinkles. PHA gluconolactone gently exfoliates the surface of your skin, removing dead skin cells, while refining skin’s texture and adding hydration. This also has anti-bacterial, moisturizing honey as well.
Korean Traditional Herb Complex contains soothing and healing herbs, great for blemishes and other skin issues ~ mugwort, heartleaf, peony root, lily bulb, rehmannia root, Solomon’s Seal, white mulberry root, Japanese mountain yam root and licorice root ~ which will help relieve skin irritation.
Ingredients: water, glycerin, kaolin, butylene glycol, titanium dioxide (CI 77891), bentonite, 1,2-hexanediol, silica, microcrystalline cellulose, sea silt, artemisia princeps leaf powder, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, houttuynia cordata powder, glyceryl caprylate, ethylhexylglycerin, disodium EDTA, dioscorea japonica root extract, propanediol, gluconolactone, rubus idaeus (raspberry) fruit extract, ulmus davidiana root extract, honey, salicornia herbacea extract, morus alba leaf extract, angelica keiskei extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, tocopherol cosDNA
The texture is very soft, wet and creamy, with little bits of powders from the clay and herbs. However, it is not scratchy or itchy when applied to the skin. This does not have a fragrance that I can detect
The mask is very cooling on the skin and really doesn’t dry down all the way ~ it stays a nice cream texture that is a bit thicker. To rinse off, I take a shower, as this mask will re-adhere to the skin once it is wet . The fine powders provide a nice gentle physical exfoliation and there was already some chemical with the PHA, but this is not a hard-core exfoliating mask ~ it is gentle, doesn’t sting, provides soothing care while removing dead skin and oils from your pores.
You can also use this as a spot solution, by dabbing the mask on your T-Zone or other oily areas instead of all over the face or use it with your favorite cleansing foam: mix your cleansing foam and this mask together, apply to your face and gently massage into your skin, then rinse clean. Due to the extreme gentleness, I think all skin types would enjoy this mask. As Goldilocks would say “It’s just right!”
The Clarifying Mask is a peel off mask that will help remove dead skin cells and other impurities due to its elastic and cohesive texture that fits tightly to the skin when it dries down. Let’s talk ingredients! Oh yeah, this has alcohol in it. Peel off masks do have alcohol as their top ingredients as it helps thin the dense sticky formula and allows the mask to dry down as the alcohol evaporates. This is why it has such a tight fit to the skin. Just like the Herbal Clay Purifying Mask, this also has the Korean Traditional Herb Complex ~ containing soothing and healing herbs, great for blemishes and other skin issues, relieving skin irritation.
Solomon’s seal (polygonatum sibiricum root/rhizome) is an herb that has been used in traditional medicine and in beauty as well ~ it moisturizes, brightens skin tone, reduces inflammation and itchiness. Golden and silver honeysuckle is a soothing ingredient, that helps with skin irritation, improve uneven skin tone and provides anti-bacterial and antiseptic benefits. It also tones and balances your skin. Bentonite clay will provide smoothing, exfoliating, cleaning pores and improving overall skin tone.
Honey has antibacterial properties that can speed up healing in your skin ~ think acne, rashes, cuts ~ and prevent additional infection. The wonderful texture of honey will keep moisture close to your skin, which makes for a glowing and radiant complexion. Honey is also an antioxidant, which means it helps repair and combat any damage caused by free radicals and prevents premature wrinkling.
Ingredients: water, polyvinyl alcohol, alcohol denat., glycerin, butylene glycol, polygonatum sibiricum root/rhizome powder, PEG-75, 1,2-hexanediol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, bentonite, xanthan gum, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, fragrance, limonene, lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, ethylhexylglycerin, portulaca oleracea extract, propanediol, polygonatum odoratum rhizome powder, honey, disodium EDTA, linalool, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, panax ginseng root extract, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, tocopherol cosDNA
This is such a thick, gooey mask, sticky and looks like a dark amber honey. Alas, I am not gonna lie, it smells like alcohol with some herbs tossed in. This is very messy to apply, so use a plastic mask spatula, not a brush, as the gooey mask will dry down and you won’t be able to clean that brush ever again. Make sure your skin is clean and you put on an emulsion or thick toner first on your skin. Apply a thin layer ~ for photo purposes, I applied a thick layer, but normally I would use half that amount. If you apply too much, it won’t dry dow
As it dries, it does start to tighten on my skin, but it is not itchy. After 20 minutes, or when the mask is dry ~ if it is humid, it will take longer to dry down ~ gently find a corner where you can start to peel away. I pull downwards and away from my face, so I start around my forehead and gently remove it from my skin. If there are little bits left, I use a cleansing water and cotton pad to remove.
This mask may stink to alcohol heaven, but OMG, it leaves my skin baby soft and smooth. It is very gentle and removes dead skin cells, dead bits of flaky skin and leaves my pores tight looking and clean. The other benefit is that unlike most peel off masks, this one doesn’t dry out the skin. I think the added moisturizing ingredients really helps to counteract the drying alcohol, plus adding emulsion or toner prior to. applying the mask. This is very gentle and I use it once or twice a week in the hotter months! No wonder this product has over 89 million sales across the world since launch and it has been Sulwhasoo’s Number 1 mask from 2004 to 2019 (Since the product launch in 2004 to 2019, cumulative domestic and international sales)
White Ginseng Radiance Refining Mask is a 2 in 1 product ~ It is a wash off mask, where you leave it on for 5 minutes and then you use it as a facial scrub to exfoliate. Made with white ginseng root that has been aged for 4 years with a 14% moisture content and natural hydrolyzed white ginseng saponins ~ enzyme-treated white ginseng. There has been numerous studies that show it is effective as 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.
Finely ground walnut shell powder, and yeah, I know what you are thinking here ~ this is for gentle exfoliation and I swear the texture is like ground pepper. It is that finely milled. Walnut powder will help remove dead and dry skin cells so your skin will be smooth and soft.
Oldenlandia diffusa has several bioactive components in it, including skin soothing, antioxidant oleanolic acid helps reduce sebum, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant β-glycyrrhetinic acid; hydrating glucoside; moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral betulin increases skin suppleness and evens skin texture and tone; fatty acid β-sitosterol moisturizes and soothes the skin; skin brightening ρ-coumaric acid helps diminish hyperpigmentation; and phytosterol stigmasterol helps brightens and calms skin. (source Infectious Diseases and Herbal Medicine, HK)
The Korean Traditional Herb Complex gets around as it is in here as well, containing soothing and healing herbs, great for blemishes & other skin issues, relieving skin irritation. Moisturizing, antibacterial, humectant honey helps keep your skin from drying out.
Ingredients: water, glycerin, dimethicone, methyl gluceth-20, butylene glycol, PEG-15 glyceryl isostearate, panax ginseng root powder, alcohol denat., polyglycerin-3, glyceryl polymethacrylate, PVP, 1,2-hexanediol, ammonium acryloyldimethyl taurate/VP copolymer, acrylates/C10 -30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, juglans regia (walnut) shell powder, tromethamine, xanthan gum, fragrance, propanediol, disodium EDTA, limonene, honey, methoxy PEG-114/polyepsilon caprolactone, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome/root extract, rehmannia gutinosa root extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, panax ginseng root extract, oldenlandia diffusa extract, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, phenoxyethanol, hydrolyzed ginseng saponins (hydrolyzed white ginseng saponins), ethylhexylglycerin cosDNA
This is one of the prettiest masks I have seen ~ it is a golden shade with bits of powder suspended in the thick jelly. And the SCENT! It is a hanbang’s delight, very ginseng-y and herbal. It has a jelly texture yet it stays put as I apply this on my skin. Jump in the shower, avoid washing my face for 5 minutes, then I massage this scrub around ~ it is so gentle, it doesn’t feel like anything at all. However, my skin is so soft, so silky after using this and it doesn’t feel stripped or dry. I feel that it removed all of my excess oils and dead skin, cleansing into my pores and removing any gunk left in there. I haven’t noticed any permanent brightening effects, but for a few hours after using this, my skin does look more radiant.
Upper left, clockwise
Clarifying Mask, Herbal Clay Purifying Mask, White Ginseng Radiance Refining Mask, Overnight Vitalizing Mask
Now this isn’t a full review of ALL of the masks Sulwhasoo has as they obviously have more sleeping mask packs and sheet masks ~ but these are the ones in the tubes, making it easy to travel with them. Which one do you need? Let’s break them down with my little chart
Where To Purchase
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- Overnight Vitalizing Mask 120 mL $54.00
- Herbal Clay Purifying Mask 120 mL $50.00
- Clarifying Mask 150 mL $45.00
- White Ginseng Radiance Refining Mask 120 mL $68.00
Sephora only carries the GOAT ~ Overnight Vitalizing Mask for $54.00
[ some products received for review purposes. blog post contains affiliate links ]