Sulwhasoo"s first care activating serum boosted my whole routine

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" data-image-caption="It’s shiny & ornate & feels wonderful in my hand.

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October 7, 2019 update: I’ve updated this post at the bottom with a link to the latest limited edition version of the product.

Woohoo! Sulwhasoo!

I’ve spent several years steeped in the serums & essences of Korean skincare but have until recently given well known, high-end brands like Sulwhasoo a wide berth.

I avoided the grandes dames of K-beauty partly for budgetary reasons and partly because I doubted that any difference in unique and effectiveness could be proportional to lớn the difference in price between the fancy stuff & solid midrange beauty brands. But then I got interested in hanbang skincare thanks to my snailboo (and fellow Snailcaster) Snow of Snow White và the Asian Pear. Since then, I’ve purchased several full-sized Sulwhasoo products. Now, after a month of use, I’m ready to review one of the ones I was most excited khổng lồ get. (Update: after over a year & several more bottles of this product, I stand by everything I originally said here.) Let’s talk about Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX!

Affiliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk(*).

" data-image-caption="Just out of frame: Two curious children và one very large dog lunging at me against its leash. There are severe hazards to lớn doing product photography in public spaces.

" data-medium-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=209" data-large-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=713" class="wp-image-3894" src="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=450&h=647" alt="Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX review" width="450" height="647" srcset="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=450&h=647 450w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=900&h=1294 900w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=104&h=150 104w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=209&h=300 209w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=768&h=1104 768w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex.jpg?w=713&h=1024 713w" sizes="(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px" />Just out of frame: Two curious children và one very large dog lunging at me against its leash. There are severe hazards to doing product photography in public spaces.

Purpose: Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX is an anti-aging hàng hóa that claims khổng lồ hydrate, balance, and revitalize skin.

Best suited for: All skin types.

Do not use if: You are sensitive to botanical extracts, alcohol, honey, carrageenan, or anything else in the ingredients list.

When và how to use: Pat onto skin immediately after cleansing (or after actives if/when you use those). If you want to feel extra fancy và ladylike while doing so, which I personally bởi vì because I want lớn milk every last drop of raw experience out of the product, kiểm tra out this Sulwhasoo video for the brand’s recommended application technique.

I don’t particularly believe the patting influences effectiveness, but it feels good, and I like feeling good. Someday I’m going lớn buy me a pretty floaty dressing gown and a ladylike vanity to complete the experience.


Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX ingredients: Ophiopogon japonicus root extract, water, glycyrrhiza uralensis (licorice) root extract, butylene glycol, alcohol, betaine, glycerin, camellia sinensis leaf extract, paeonia albiflora root extract, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, polygonatum officinale rhizome root extract, lilium candidum bulb extract, rehmannia glutinosa root extract, honey, juglans regia (walnut) seed extract, portulaca oleracea extract, zizyphus jujuba fruit extract, biosaccharide gum-1, natto gum, PEG/PPG-17/6 copolymer, glyceryl polymethacrylate, Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, carbomer, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, dextrin, theobroma cacao (cocoa) extract, xanthan gum, ethylhexylglycerin, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), phenyl trimethicone, hydrogenated lecithin, propylene glycol, tromethamine, disodium EDTA, phenoxyethanol, fragrance

CosDNA analysis

" data-image-caption="Tinytext thoughtfully provided in the packaging insert.

" data-medium-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=720" class="wp-image-3892" src="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=449&h=204" alt="Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX English ingredients" width="449" height="204" srcset="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=449&h=204 449w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=898&h=408 898w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=150&h=68 150w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=300&h=136 300w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-english-ingredients.jpg?w=768&h=349 768w" sizes="(max-width: 449px) 100vw, 449px" />Tinytext thoughtfully provided in the packaging insert.

Notable ingredients: Of the first five ingredients listed, two are plant extracts. The đứng đầu is ophiopogon japonicus, which is used extensively in Chinese và Korean herbal medicine for various internal ailments. Topically, its key benefit is moisturization. Glycyrrhiza uralensis, a strain of licorice that I don’t recall seeing anywhere except in Sulwhasoo products, is known primarily as a brightening & anti-inflammatory ingredient và an emollient skin conditioning agent. Both of these extracts và the rest of the herbal ingredients (said lớn have various brightening, anti-aging, & skin conditioning benefits) can also be presumed to have some cấp độ of antioxidant benefit.

There’s no way lớn reliably know just how concentrated any of those ingredients are, but on paper, the combination is promising. Và my bleary tinytext-decoding eyes turned lớn heart eyes when I noticed the honey right around the middle of the list. Honey’s soothing, moisturizing abilities are always welcome on my face.

You may also notice alcohol rather high up on the list. While I’m no alcohol avoider (in life or skincare), I vị recognize that some people will need to pass on this due khổng lồ individual sensitivities.

If you don’t have a known sensitivity, however, I suggest keeping an xuất hiện mind. There are several cosmetically valid reasons for alcohol to appear in this product. It’s a solvent, for one thing, and with the number of different extracts used in this product, I’m thinking the chances are high that at least one of them is a substance that has khổng lồ be extracted in alcohol. Alcohol can also be an effective penetration enhancer. The First Care Activating Serum EX is touted as optimizing the absorption of products layered over it, so its presence here makes sense.

Performance

After about a week of experimentation, I settled on the time-tested strategy of Do What I Want. Sometimes I use the First Care Activating Serum EX in place of toner. If I feel lượt thích my skin has a bit too much residue from my actives, I do a sweep of toner on a cốt tông pad first. Và if my skin’s being extra thirsty, I’ll bởi the First Care Activating Serum EX first then pat on some hydrating or moisturizing toner afterwards. Really, it all feels good and I’ve not noticed any issues with any of these methods.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX is an amber gel with a fairly lightweight serum consistency và a sophisticated, spicy, very Sulwhasoo herbal scent.

" data-image-caption="No way around the truth: this is a very sexy substance.

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" data-medium-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=720" class="wp-image-3891" src="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=451&h=299" alt="Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum consistency" width="451" height="299" srcset="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=451&h=299 451w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=902&h=598 902w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=300&h=199 300w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/sulwhasoo-first-care-activating-serum-ex-consistency.jpg?w=768&h=510 768w" sizes="(max-width: 451px) 100vw, 451px" />No way around the truth: this is a sexy, sexy substance.

It spreads out smoothly even in very sparing quantities (I usually bởi vì just a single pump for face & neck) and dries down remarkably quickly, thanks both to lớn the alcohol & the general lightness of the product. Much lượt thích Dear by Enprani Moistfull Booskin, my other go-to “make stuff absorb faster” prep product, the First Care Activating Serum EX does make my subsequent skincare layers pat in faster và seemingly more thoroughly.

Thing is, there are a lot of products out there that smell lovely và feel pleasant, và there are also plenty of effective absorption boosters. Absorption boosting is 75% the point of any hydrating toner and about 55% the point of any first essence. For the first couple of weeks that I used the First Care Activating Serum EX, I wasn’t sure whether it was having any effect beyond those basic functions, & if it didn’t have any other effect, it certainly wouldn’t be worth it.

Anytime I took the sản phẩm out of my routine, after a day or so, I’d chiến bại the effects I suspected it of causing, và those effects would return not long after I started using it again. Skincare is lượt thích exercise. If you stop doing something that’s working for you, your condition backslides fairly quickly, but (at least in my experience) when you get back on the elliptical (which I never do, but let’s pretend for the sake of the metaphor), you can bounce back quite quickly.

What my skin gained from the First Care Activating Serum EX (and then lost when I cut it from my routine, và then regained when I welcomed the product back into my life) was a youthful radiance that I don’t think I’ve had since I was seventeen.

Let’s break it down a little bit. As we age, our skin isn’t just losing firmness, elasticity, và evenness of tone. Many of us also experience a gradual dulling of our skin over time. This started to lớn happen quite early for me because I started smoking at seventeen. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes blood vessels lớn narrow. Smokers và former smokers lượt thích me generally lack a natural bloom to lớn our faces in part because the blood circulation right beneath the skin is reduced. I’ve since quit smoking (YAY FOR ME!) but I do still get my nicotine fix by vaping. For that reason, I’m generally just not a rosy-cheeked person. Even when I feel good enough about my skin khổng lồ go without BB cream or cushion, I’ve always felt compelled to use at least a cảm ứng of blush lớn avoid that DOA look.

The First Care Activating Serum EX puts some rosy màu sắc in my cheeks, perhaps due lớn some of the extracts in the sản phẩm stimulating increased circulation in my skin. After a couple of weeks of using the First Care Activating Serum EX, I found myself happily going blush-free without looking like a fresh-ish corpse. That is a huge giảm giá in my world và well worth the investment I put into the product!

But.

Due lớn the high price tag of the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX, I’m not at all comfortable ending my reviews here và moving on lớn the conclusion. It’s definitely an investment. For this và the other high-end products I’ve got in my reviews queue, I want to lớn take some time to discuss whether this investment is something that will be worth it to you.

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" data-image-caption="Sulwhasoo’s products are worth it for me at this point in my life, but I remember my lean times, too.

" data-medium-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=720" class="size-sela-logo wp-image-3730" src="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=380&h=380" alt="Sulwhasoo skincare products" width="380" height="380" srcset="https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=380&h=380 380w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=760&h=760 760w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=150&h=150 150w, https://doanhnghiepnet.com.vn.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/sulwhasoo-family.jpg?w=300&h=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 380px) 100vw, 380px" />Sulwhasoo’s products are worth it for me at this point in my life, but I remember my lean times, too.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX Value Analysis

Figuring out the value of a skincare hàng hóa might seem simple at first glance. If the sản phẩm has “quality” ingredients, then that justifies (or at least explains) the higher price point, right? and ingredients bởi vì come in varying degrees of purity and potency. One supplier’s ophiopogon japonicus extract might be standardized at a higher concentration than another supplier’s, even though the name is the same on the label the consumer sees. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us to tell whether a brand is using the really good stuff just by looking at the ingredients list. We’d need insider information, obtainable probably only through blackmail or other unsavory activities, on the suppliers brands use. That limits our ability khổng lồ judge purely by “quality” or “formulation.” But we vày still have eyes and brains (well, arguably) and can judge by results instead!

In skincare as in everything else, there are primary concerns and secondary concerns. I made an exercise metaphor up above and I’ll extend it here: a primary concern might be reducing BMI lớn a healthy level, improving cardiovascular function lớn prevent or reduce heart problems, or building bone mass to lớn ward off osteoporosis. I should really start working out. But anyway, with skincare, primary concerns might be protecting skin from UV damage, treating acne, or using proven actives khổng lồ rebuild collagen.

Secondary concerns, on the other hand, are those finer details that optimize. If I exercised ever, for example, I might address the secondary concern of my booty shape by spending some extra time doing squats và lunges. The squats and lunges will have an impact on my primary concerns as well, just as the antioxidants & slower-acting actives in any skincare sản phẩm may have a subtle long-term preventative effect on primary skin concerns, but in both cases, the primary concerns aren’t the point.

With my skin, my general lack of blooming glow is a secondary concern. Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX is fantastically effective for me at addressing that secondary concern. If you struggle with a general sallowness or the grayish IRL filter caused by long-term nicotine addiction, and if your lack of bloom bothers you a lot, this product may indeed be totally worth the investment for you. If circulatory effects lượt thích this aren’t what you’re looking for, however, you run a higher risk of disappointment. Whatever preventative effects you may receive from the antioxidants in the hàng hóa probably won’t be enough to lớn justify the cost.

The packaging of the First Care Activating Serum EX meets my requirements completely. While the bottle doesn’t appear to lớn be of the gold standard airless pump variety, it is opaque, which prevents antioxidant degradation due khổng lồ light exposure, & despite its graceful silhouette, the glass(?) is thick & sturdy. I’ve dropped it a few times onto a tile floor (sometimes intentionally!). No breakage, not even a cpu as far as I can see.

The weighty material may also help insulate the sản phẩm so that high environmental temperatures won’t affect it as they might affect a product in a flimsier container. The pump dispenses a perfect amount of product for me with one press và shows no signs of wearing out or breaking down after extended use. And the cap clicks on just as crisply & tightly as it did when I first started using the product. Also, yes, the whole thing is pretty, classy, & very satisfying khổng lồ touch và use.

Finally, when looking at a luxury product, I also consider whether I know of any comparable products at lower price points. When it comes to lớn the First Care Activating Serum EX, I can’t think of any that produce the same blooming glow at a lower cost. The closest hàng hóa I’ve tried has been Holy Snails‘s Snow Shark, a superlightweight hanbang concoction that actually made my skin softer than the First Care Activating Serum EX, but a) Snow Shark is not commercially available, as it is prohibitively difficult & costly for Chel to lớn make; và b) though Snow Shark made my skin softer, Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum EX wins by far for giving me That Glow.

What to expect from Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX: Instantly softer skin that’s prepared to lớn absorb subsequent products more readily; subtle brightening; improved màu sắc in skin–a healthy glow.

Conclusion

I’m super happy with Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX and, despite having only tried a single sample foil of it before purchasing the full size, I don’t have a single regret about plopping down the cash I plopped down in order khổng lồ acquire my bottle. As cliched as it sounds, youthful radiance really is a thing, & this stuff has given it to lớn my face in a way I didn’t expect.

With that being said, it isn’t an all-around miracle worker that will erase wrinkles and tighten up your face lượt thích a good dose of Photoshop. Then again, nothing I’ve seen can, except for a good dose of Photoshop! When my bottle runs out (which will take several months thanks to the generous 60ml provided), the chances of me buying another are very, very high.

Rating: 4.2/5  5/5 (rating updated after long consideration, to reflect multiple repurchases and eagerness to lớn keep using the hàng hóa after all this time)