Sulwhasoo Essential Revitalizing & Renewing Serum Review

Sulwhasoo focuses on using hanbang, which is traditional Korean medicine using  ingredients that are indigenous to Korea.  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.   I was able to try out Sulwhasoo Essential Revitalizing Serum and Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum products, thanks to the generosity of Sulwhasoo sending them to me.  Sulwhasoo is pricey, but their products are so well formulated.  I do recommend getting some samples to try first as some folks might be sensitive to some of the ingredients. 

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.

The Essential Line is a great beginner, affordable Sulwhasoo line.  It is for skin that has just begun to age and restore the natural moisture and oil balance level on your skin  It does provide a glowing effect and is good for all skin types, and helps provide moisture and nourishment. The Essential Line has been around since 1997.  The Ginseng Line is Sulwhasoo’s Signature skincare line that began back in 2000. The formulation has been improved over the years and this works on issues with aging skin, such as wrinkles, fine lines, elasticity and skin texture.  This is the next step up from the Essentials skincare line

Sulwhasoo Essential Revitalizing Serum Alas, this serum is no longer available in the USA market, and there are some on eBay. However, the Essential line is not discontinued, so I have to think that since Sulwhasoo has a tendency to reformulate or repackage their products, this product *may* come back; hence the review.  The Essentials line at Sulwhasoo is one of the more affordable skincare lines they offer and is a good intro to the Sulwhasoo world.

Mountain peony is one of the key ingredients in the Essential’s line as it delivers hydration while smoothing your skin’s texture. Licorice root soothes and calms the skin, while acting as an anti-inflammatory and also reduces hyper-pigmentation.  This has beta-glucan, derived from split gill mushroom, aka  schizophyllum commune. Beta-glucan helps stimulate the production of collagen, speeds up wound healing, soothes and calms skin due to its anti-irritant and strong anti-inflammatory properties while it moisturizes and locks in natural moisture and provides anti-aging and anti-wrinkle benefits.

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 also has a slew of hanbang ingredients for moisturize, healing, antioxidant and anti-aging care:  lotus, Solomon’s seal, Madonna lily and Chinese foxglove. ⁣ Portulaca oleracea aka purslane helps prevent dryness of skin and soothes skin with its excellent moisturizing ability.  Caffeine helps reduce puffiness, by stimulating and improving blood circulation

This serum has a lot of emollients in it, so it will help soften and smooth the skin ~ there is dimethicone in here ~  a silicone and makes for the smooth, silky texture, while forming a protective barrier on your skin.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, C12-16 Alcohols, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethiconol, Palmitic Acid, Propanediol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Caffeine, Honey, Fragrance, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Limonene, Disodium EDTA, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Dextrin, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Beta-Glucan, Linalool, Stearic Acid, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA, Mannitol, Citronellol, Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Cholesterol, Silica, Tocopherol cosDNA

This comes in a 50 mL bottle with a white base and a mustard yellow cap and rim.   The serum has a pump applicator and the texture of this serum is a gel-lotion.   The scent is has a faint sweet citrus lemon-herbal scent and it is so pretty ~ it is not an overpowering scent at all.   The serum spreads easily on the skin and I can feel the occlusive barrier forming on the top layer as I massage it in.  However, it is not sticky or greasy and absorbs quickly, leaving behind supple, soft skin.

This does provide a protective barrier, but it is not long lasting ~ obviously, this is a serum and not a moisturizer, so I do follow up with a lotion or cream. What I like about this is the slightly waxy-smooth finish it provides on my skin ~ it helps fill in the very fine lines nicely and plumps up your skin, leaving it radiant.  I am older, so this doesn’t do much for my wrinkles, but if you are in your 20’s and early 30’s, this serum would be a great serum step in your skincare routine.  This is very different from the First Care Activating Serum, as that is an FTE treatment and is a watery, hydrating skincare product (review here)

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum No doubt about it, the Concentrated Ginseng line is DAMN amazing (see my other reviews here). This is the next step up from the Essentials line and was totally revamped back in 2017-2018.   When can you start using it? It really depends on your skin type and needs.  Obviously, this is more expensive than the Essentials line but it really covers almost the bases for anti-aging skincare.

Sulwhasoo loves their ginseng, and this one is packed to the gills with it ~  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 and firmness, improves blood circulation to your skin, strengthen skin and also is a superb moisturizer.  Sulwhasoo uses ginseng that is 4 years old, known for its higher saponin content. Patented Ginsenisphere, where ginseng oils are encapsulated into tiny yet visible capsules/beads and release immediately on the skin when you pat it in.  Trust me, this stuff is lovely.

Compound K is an antioxidant-rich compound extracted from Korean red ginseng to minimize the appearance of lines, and boost moisture while protecting skin against future signs of aging. Hydrolyzed ginseng saponins are enzyme-treated red ginseng saponins and there has been  numerous studies that show it is effective as a 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. Ginsenosides are compounds only found in ginseng and are an excellence source of anti-oxidants.

To repair your skin barrier,  lipid phytosphingosine helps reduce irritation while keeping your skin moisturized.  It is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, soothes skin while healing your skin. Meadowfoam oil has excellent anti-oxidant and skin softening properties and benefits. It has rich texture that helps with your skin’s barrier and locks in your skin’s moisture, preventing dryness.  Amino acid betaine  is a humectant and anti-irritant, providing silky smooth skin while soothing and calming the skin.

And that’s not all!  Sulwhasoo adds a plethora of hanbang herbal ingredients, designed to help  increase hydration, improve skin elasticity, promote blood circulation, refines skin texture, brightens skin, reduces swelling and redness and restore healthy skin: Solomon’s Seal, White lily, Chinese peony, East Indian lotus and rehmannia.  Just like the Essential Revitalizing Serum , this also contain alcohol,  but personally, I never have issues with that ingredient and  it isn’t the death of your skin. In fact, I think the alcohol helps thin out the product and make it absorb and spread more easily

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Methyl Gluceth-20, Betaine, Behenyl Alcohol, Methoxy PEG-114/Polyepsilon Caprolactone, Carbomer, Jojoba Esters, Tromethamine, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins (Enzyme-Treated Red Ginseng Saponins), Fragrance, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sucrose Polystearate, Phenoxyethanol, Honey, Ethylhexylglycerin, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Dextrin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Disodium EDTA, Hydrogenatedpolyisobutene, Panax Ginseng Seed Oil, Linalool, Panax Ginseng Leaf/Stem Extract, Benzyl Benzoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Panax Ginseng Flower Extract, Tocopherol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butylhydroxyhydrocinnamate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phytosphingosine, Sodium Polyaspartate, Sodium Methylstearoyl Taurate cosDNA

This packaging wins the best Sulwhasoo award in my humble option.  It is a tall golden goddess with its base having a double plastic layer ~ so you can see the reflection of the name of the serum on that golden inner layer.  Truly a stunning piece.   It has a pump applicator and the texture is more like a watery gel ~ it isn’t as thick as the Essential Serum.  Oh and the scent!  It is heavenly ~ a real robust ginseng scent so if you dislike ginseng, you will not like this scent at all.  But for hanbang lovers, this is a treat.

As I spread the serum out, I can see those Ginsenisphere beads in the serum and they melt away into my skin.  It’s like an oil but not oily and the serum actually gets watery as it absorbs into my skin. The difference is amazing. 

My skin is REALLY supple and soft, very hydrated and smooth.  I don’t feel a protective barrier but really a hydrated barrier instead ~ my skin is so plumped up and that smooth silky skin texture stays around for a while.  I feel that my skin has better elasticity while using this serum and the sensation is cooling and refreshing.

Final Thoughts

Essential Revitalizing Serum leaves the skin soft, but Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum keeps it soft, supple and toned.  I did one side of my face with the Essentials and the other with the Ginseng and I have to say, the Ginseng is fantastic for my aging, oily skin type.  Essentials is very good as well and you can layer it, but there is a big difference between the two, hence the price tag difference as well.   If you can afford it, I think the Concentrated Ginseng Serum is the better product ~ it is truly serious skincare.   I honestly think it is perfection.

Where To Purchase

Please remember to click on my links if you wish to support my content.  I get a small commission at no cost to you and it helps keep my blog running. 

For the Essential Revitalizing Serum, you can still purchase it on eBay (click here) ranging in price from $102.00 to $120.00 USD.   For other  Sulwhasoo skincare products, you can purchase it in several places in the USA ~ I recommend using Sulwhasoo USA, Sephora, Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms.  Sephora also ships internationally to Norway and Japan

Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum 50 mL $205.00 


[ products received for review purposes.  blog post contains affiliate links ]

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