Ginseng, the precious herbal root, has been used in Asian traditional medicine for centuries. In present day, it’s ubiquitous in beauty products created by brands across the globe. You’re likely to find it in moisturizers, serums, eye creams, sheet masks, and beyond, and we have Sulwhasoo to thank.
The luxury Korean beauty brand was the first cosmetics company to use the ingredient in skin care, starting in 1966 with its ABC Ginseng Cream, now known as the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream. That initial launch of the moisturizer is just one example of how Sulwhasoo has always been decades ahead of its time in terms of innovation—and it has achieved this simply by honoring tradition. According to the brand: “The idea of using ginseng in skin care products began with a simple question: ‘If ginseng is good for the health, wouldn’t it be good for the skin?’”
Known for being rich in antioxidants, ginseng is believed to help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of cell oxidation in the body, which can prevent chronic illness. The ingredient has also been shown to help boost energy and even brain function. As far as skin care, these same antioxidants can help prevent oxidative damage that could lead to premature aging, while simultaneously bringing radiance to dull, tired-looking skin, and reducing the look of fine lines.
Sulwhasoo, which traces its roots to 1932, spent years researching the ingredient before developing its first ginseng-infused product, and has continued to study it since, leading to consistent evolution and innovation. In 1973 (when the brand was called SAMMI), for example, it became the first Korean skin care brand to introduce ginseng saponin, a potent extract derived from the herb, overseas.
“Through decades of research invested into unlocking the power of ginseng, Sulwhasoo created its proprietary bioconversion technology harnessing a rare saponin from the roots—one gram extracted per 1,000 grams of ginseng—that is 6,000 times* more concentrated than its raw state to deliver powerful anti-aging benefits and visibly rejuvenate skin,” according to the brand.
*Comparing the amount of ginseng saponin compound K to the amount found in natural ginseng roots.
Fast-forward to 2023, and this ingredient, along with ginseng peptides (which help boost the look of resilience), can be found in many of Sulwhasoo’s expansive lineup of products. For its part, the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream has built a cult following for its ultra-hydrating texture that melts into skin, as well as its powerful formula. Brand studies have shown that with its consistent use, skin looks smoother, firmer, and more refreshed.
A must-have in the collection is the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum, which visibly addresses signs of aging and overall radiance. It uses capsule technology, that dissolves instantly on skin, to help protect and more effectively deliver the brand’s signature ginseng saponin alongside retinol, to address visible wrinkles and give the complexion a rejuvenated appearance.
Another key factor in how Sulwhasoo uses ginseng is the company’s deep appreciation of the ingredient’s history and its robust capabilities. The brand considers its products—each carefully crafted and steeped in cultural tradition—works of art. In fact, recently this approach to beauty inspired a yearlong partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, which will support programs and activities celebrating global heritage.
A tenet of the brand: “Ginseng itself is a work of art, created through a combination of its own properties and the energy of the soil. It reflects the sincere dedication of its growers and the spirit of the ground: carefully selected soil, the right amount and temperature of sunlight, wind, moisture, and 1,500 days of waiting. When ginseng fully matures, it is an incredibly powerful source of vitality.”