Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum

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After getting a free sample from the company, we put the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum to the test. For our complete product review, keep reading.


Fine lines and aging would come in first on my list of top skincare issues, followed by dryness and dullness, in that order, from most urgent to least. I leaped at the chance to try the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum, a beloved K-beauty product that claims to moisturize, brighten, and revitalize the skin.


This serum-essence mix was created with five legendary Asian herbs that were hand-selected by a team of lab researchers back in 1997. It claims to hydrate, rejuvenate, and brighten the skin while reducing the appearance of fine wrinkles and preparing your skin for more treatments. Fans of the serum assert that it brightens, tightens, and moisturizes while enhancing the effectiveness of their complete skincare regimen. Critics of the serum state that results are minor. Find my uncensored assessment of this beloved K-beauty item, including everything from aroma and application to effects, below.

About My Skin: Sensitive and acne-prone with a touch of winter eczema

My skin can be both oily and dry due to my seasonal eczema and ongoing hormonal acne. Naturally, I’m very selective about the products I add to my skincare regimen because, depending on the season, the wrong serum, mask, or moisturizer can trigger an outbreak of acne or eczema. Overall, I find that my skin is happiest when I stick to the fundamentals; it dislikes overpowering serums, masks, or moisturizers and would rather be left alone. I typically use a mild cleanser, a prescription acne drug, a couple mild serums once or twice a week, and a small amount of light moisturizer.


The Ingredients: An herbal powerhouse plus stabilizing alcohol

The Jaum activator, a feature of Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum, is the brand’s hero complex. The sacred lotus, white lily, peony, Solomon’s seal, and sticky rehmannia are among the five carefully chosen Korean medicinal herbs that make up this blend, which has been honed over the course of more than 20 years. In addition to reducing the effects of aging, these herbs are supposed to brighten, moisturize, soften, and smooth the skin. Five iterations of the recipe have been issued by the company, with the most recent one debuting in early 2021. The previously acclaimed composition now contains a higher proportion of the aforementioned medicinal herbs, providing it an anti-aging boost.


On the negative side, artificial scents and fragrantes like citronellol, geraniol, limonene, and linalool are listed near the bottom of the ingredient list after denatured alcohol (these are also found in many essential oils). However, to stabilize the extracts and improve absorption, alcohol is frequently added to skincare products that include a lot of herbs. In reality, a lot of Sulwhasoo products have alcohol as a component.


The Scent: A bit overpowering

The perfume of the best anti aging serum truly smacks you in the face thanks to the synthetic fragrance and other fragrance ingredients; it is quite herbaceous and makes me think of an essential oil blend. In order to reduce the possibility of irritation, I personally don’t like the smell and prefer more subdued, natural scents or even fragrance-free items. Positively, the aroma does quickly fade as the cream absorbs into the skin.



The Feel: Lightweight and incredibly absorbent


Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum



First Care Activating Serum by Sulwhasoo is a serum-essence hybrid; it’s intended to be applied right after cleansing to balance your complexion and enhance the absorption of future skincare products, yet it’s called a serum because of the potent herbal ingredients. The golden elixir is thin and runny; it immediately absorbs into the skin, dries to the touch in a short period of time, and leaves no trace whatsoever. The sulwhasoo serum should be warmed in your palms for two to three pumps before being gently massaged into your cheeks, forehead, and nose.


The Results: Definitely improves product absorption

I’m sorry to say that I belong to the group of web users that don’t fully comprehend the excitement surrounding this product. I don’t feel that this serum did much for my skin on its own, but perhaps that’s because of my somewhat monotonous skincare regimen or my lack of expertise with the K-beauty approach. Oddly enough, I found it to be a little drying, and after using it for weeks, I saw no brightening, anti-aging, or smoothing effects.


Having said that, I do believe that this sulwhasoo first care serum softened my skin and enhanced the absorption of subsequent products. My skin felt noticeably more moisturized and bouncy than usual after using a dropper of Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Serum and a touch of my SkinCeuticals daily moisturizer. I don’t put on several skincare products every day because I have to keep my skin simple to prevent acne, therefore I don’t believe I’d be inclined to buy this product.

The Value: A bit pricey


Overall, the list of ingredients for Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum is outstanding; it contains strong, nourishing herbal extracts, which undoubtedly explains the higher price. But I think it’s a little on the pricey side because it only improves the effectiveness of other skincare products, in my opinion. However, depending on your complexion, you can have a different experience, and for those who rave about it, this sulwhasoo serum-essence hybrid appears to be well worth the price.



PRODUCT NAME First Care Activating Serum




PRICE $89.00
WEIGHT 2 oz.
FULL INGREDIENT LIST Water / Aqua / Eau, Alcohol Denat., Butylene Glycol, Betaine, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Bis-Peg-18, Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Carbomer, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tromethamine, Propanediol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Seed Extract, Dextrin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Fragrance / Parfum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Adenosine, Limonene, Methyl Trimethicone, Disodium Edta, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Honey / Mel / Miel, Madecassoside, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Linalool, Lycium Chinense Fruit Extract, Polygonatum Odoratum Rhizome Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Propylene Glycol, Ziziphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Natto Gum, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Citronellol, Citral, Geraniol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Bht, Citric Acid, Lentinus Edodes Extract, Tocopherol, Hydrolyzed Soybean Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract



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