Here’s a closer look at Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, the most expensive K-Beauty product in India right now.

Image: Courtesy Sulwhasoo Instagram

With Parasite and Minari garnering global attention, BTS partnering with McDonald’s and K-Dramas ruling our screens during the lockdown, the renewed interest in Korea and all things Korean are back in 2021 with high expectations. Not that it went away at any point because we are still obsessed with the 10-step beauty regimes, having glass skin dreams, watching reruns of Crash Landing On You, and obsessing over Gong Yoo. In that order, yes. And once travel is back on the charts, a trip to Seoul and Jeju is definitely on the cards, too.

Meanwhile, we are looking to find our way back to healthy and happy skin in lockdown via K-Beauty. It’s a well-known fact that the country has given us some great products that are not just unique but also created with first-class results, case in point, Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Cosrx Snail Mucin cream, and Innisfree Green Tea serum, and Dr Jart rubber masks, and more.

Apart from products, K-Beauty has also single-handedly introduced us to new categories — Cushion Foundations, Lip Tints, Essences, and Tone-Up Creams. And before it gets too fan-girly, let me remind you of K-Beauty ingredients like Green Tea, Snail Mucin, Bee Pollen, Heartleaf, and Cica that have also become a big part of our regime. 

This brings us to a traditional ingredient that we got introduced to last year, ginseng, which is probably the star of traditional K-Beauty practices. And the cult brand that brings Ginseng into our lives is Sulwhasoo. With cutting-edge technology and traditional wisdom, every product that comes from Sulwhasoo works to ‘Rebalance the Skin’.

Sulwhasoo comes from the Amorepacific group and is their oldest, most popular offering. It comes from the traditional roots of the country and has been in existence since 1987, and its star ingredient is ginseng that has ultimate skincare benefits. The research is spot-on, and it is a 50-year effort that came to fruition after going through 500 herbal medicine ingredients. Unlike the science-based hardcore K-beauty fare, it’s botanical and herb-based. Amorepacific is the largest beauty company in Korea that launched skincare labels like Innisfree, Laneige, and Etude House in India. The luxury brand has formulated innovative skincare solutions and high-performance products with their base ingredient, Korean ginseng, and each formulation is a testament to its potency. And the fact that it is a heritage luxury brand and the go-to label gifted to first ladies from all over the world when they visit Korea does make it coveted.

Their bestseller is the First Care Activating Serum EX. It is the most expensive K-Beauty product in India, and we were introduced to its benefits last year when the label entered the country via Nykaa. The gold standard for refreshed, rejuvenated, and ageing skin, this serum is seen by many as an elixir, a layer that adds that much-needed bounce and plumpness to the skin. The price point is daunting at first — Rs 6,200 for 60ml. But with K-Beauty products offering a lot in a quarter of that price, thanks to brands like Isntree, Cosrx, Innisfree and Beauty of Joseon, it’s hard to imagine how Sulwhasoo fares in the market and why it’s worth it. Since its launch in 1997, more than 35 million bottles have been sold worldwide. No wonder a bottle of this first serum is sold every 10 seconds.

Succinctly put, it’s ancient wisdom working together with modern science. If glass skin is your ultimate goal, this serum works. The serum is ranked #1 in the anti-ageing and serum category at department stores for six consecutive years, according to Nykaa.

The exclusivity comes from its unique ingredients. It’s known for its anti-ageing benefits and comes with JAUM, a complex known to balance your skin. And the work is extensive. Among the three thousand Korean herbal ingredients found in ancient studies, only five were chosen. The five amazing ingredients like Sacred Lotus, Peony, Solomon’s Seal, White Lily, and Rehmannia are formulated via an 18-hour process. The complex not only adds radiance but also provides nourishment and changes the texture of your skin. The add-on? It’s got such gentle ingredients that even those with sensitive skin can reap the benefits. A good thing to notice is that it’s not seen as a proper serum, but it’s a pre-serum; you use it even before a toner, right after washing your face.

The texture is airy and lightweight, refining and hydrating it immediately. Note that the herbal scent might be daunting, but the non-sticky feel is an add-on. The bottle is luxurious, and there is even a 15ml version for beginners to try at Rs 1,850.

Image: Courtesy Sulwhasoo Instagram

Is the price tag worth it though?

When you see the efforts put in, you will agree. The data and research from the label looked through 3,912 formulas and 1,041 ingredients that they gleaned through their studies on ancient Asian literature. They picked out the best active ingredients and amped up their proprietary blend of herbs to create this potent product. The clincher? The label claims to be on top of making sure the botanicals are cultivated, harvested, selected, and carefully extracted to maximum potency. And the formulation exerts the power of traditional herbs formulated beautifully through a conventional method of preparation.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX is available on Nykaa at Rs 1,850 and Rs 6,200 respectively for 15ml and 60ml.

Images: Courtesy Sulwhasoo Instagram

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.
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