When reviewing products, I like to experiment with them for at least weeks, if not months, before I form conclusions. However, very rarely, some impress me within the first few tries. My most recent encounter with such exceptional collection is the Sulwhasoo Skincare Basic Kit I ($35 for 5 travel size items). Sulwhasoo (설화수 雪花秀), under the cosmetics giant Amore Pacific, is a high-end Korean beauty brand that incorporates traditional herbs and ginseng in its products.
Many budget friendly Korean brands such as Etude House, The Face Shop, and Skin Food are extremely popular within bloggers, but I seldom see mentions of department store ones like Sulwhasoo and HERA (헤라), which carry top-notch beauty lines.
With some products priced over $100, ensuring their effectiveness before making such big investment is very important. For anyone who are curious about Sulwhasoo, the various skincare sets are great choices to start with.
Sulwhasoo products are infused with traditional herbs, so a strong aroma is inevitable (which I was definitely not fond of at first). However, the scent grew on me gradually, and now I love the relaxing and soothing scent. The natural fragrance doesn't have the kind of processed smell found in many other high-end lines.
The Skincare Basic Kit I comes with 5 travel size products that complete an entire skincare routine.
- First Care Serum (8 ml)
- Balancing Water (15 ml)
- Balancing Emulsion (15 ml)
- Concentrated Ginseng Cream (5 ml)
- Overnight Vitalizing Treatment (15 ml)
The best selling First Care Serum (full size $80 for 60 ml) is clearly holy grail material. Contrary to common skincare beliefs, this serum serves as the first step in an effective routine. Containing herbs that function as initial booster for essential hydration and subsequent products, this serum feels heavy but applies lightly. The instant absorption moisturizes the skin for a smooth and glowing result. If you can only pick one product from this brand, this should clearly be your top choice.
No words can describe how wonderful this feels on my skin. It has a thick texture but amazingly, soaks right into my face almost immediately. I bring this with me into my bathroom and apply it right after I stepped out the shower. And then I can leisurely continue onto the rest of my routine. After using this for about a month, I saw huge improvement in the overall condition of my skin for it looks more healthy and radiant. The price tag is hefty, but I didn't hesitant as I paid for a full size.
The Balancing Water (full size $55 for 125 ml) is a gel textured toner that almost feels like a light lotion and again, absorbs into the skin in a second. Prep and nourish our skin with deep hydration, this works great during those cold months when we need that extra moisture.
This is the product that if I have the budget, I would use it 365 days. Personally, I find the price a bit expansive for a toner because I'd rather just pay $5 more and go with the emulsion. But nonetheless, this is unbelievably amazing for the skin. For those rush mornings, I use nothing but this under my foundation, and it would provide enough moisture for an entire day. Now that's an ability that I don't even find in some creams.
My second favorite out of this kit is the Balancing Emulsion (full size $60 for 125 ml), which has a rich and heavy texture but applies effortlessly. Its natural herbal ingredients work to soften and hydrate the skin, leaving it supple and smooth.
I was a bit worried when I first tried this because of the thick texture (think anti-aging lotions), but to my surprise this only took a few padding for it to fully soak into my face. I've since then purchased the full size because the rich emulsion is now a necessity in my everyday routine. Again, my face is well moisturized, so it's gotten less oily. During those nights when my skin is throwing a tantrum, I add a thick layer right before bed and use it as a deep treatment. I always wake up with baby soft skin.
The Concentrated Ginseng Cream (full size $220 for 60 ml) uses extracts from rare six-year-old Korean ginseng root, leaf, and many natural herbs to repair damaged skin and to rejuvenate mature skin. The revitalizing face cream provides anti-oxidants and great hydration that penetrate even the deepest skin layer.
Don't let the anti-aging claim and the rich texture scare you from trying this out, because although it feels heavy when first applied, it's actually quite comfortable for even my oily skin. It doesn't leave the usual greasy feeling that most rich creams do. Instead, massage lightly with this product, and the skin feels supple and moisturized. Now, I have to mention that this contains an extremely strong ginseng scent, which will take some times to get used to. Recently, I purchased the full size for my mom, and according to her, this is the best facial cream she has ever used.
My least favorite is the Overnight Vitalizing Treatment (full size $50 for 120 ml) not because it's a bad product. As the final step in a skincare routine, this is an overnight mask that helps to brighten and moisturize the skin during sleep.
The basic skincare line from Sulwhasoo is known to provide deep moisture, making just one or two products more than enough for even the driest skin. This is actually not as hydrating as I've hoped for, considering that it's a special treatment rather than a regular skincare product. And I really don't need this after using the previous mentioned items. To put it in perspective, it's kind of like eating candies. The first two pieces taste yummy. The third one is OK, but the fourth piece is probably just too much.
I have extremely oily skin, and these are very beneficial for me. I have also heard positive reviews from girls with dry and normal skin, proving that this versatile line is suitable for all skin types.
The ideology behind Sulwhasoo is to use traditional ingredients infused with modern advances to praise and harmonize the feminine beauty. Its products are not meant to create dramatic overnight changes but to gradually repair, balance, and energize dull, stressed, or mature skin. Made entirely out of oriental herbs, Sulwhasoo products are so effective and good that the South Korean government actually gifted these (including the famous First Care Serum mentioned) as official presents to wives of world leaders who participated in the G20 Summit. Now that's an accomplish when the government chooses a brand to represent the whole nation.
As I've mentioned, this brand is pricey. I would highly recommend the First Care Serum and the Balancing Emulsion. If you have the budget, getting the Balancing Water is definitely a plus. Then if you really want to be fancy, add in the Concentrated Ginseng Cream.
Where to purchase: Neiman Marcus, Sulwhasoo USA, Cosme-De.com, SASA, Bergdorf Goodman, and any Amore Pacific locations. ~Angela