I Didn’t Think This Iconic Serum Could Get Any Better (I Was Wrong)

When it comes to Korean skin-care brands, I’ve always considered Sulwhasoo the crème de la crème. Its products are known for cutting-edge innovation, cultural heritage, and a luxurious user experience—all at once. The company traces its roots to 1932, making it one of the oldest and most respected skin-care brands in K-beauty and worldwide, and in 1966, it became the first-ever beauty brand to formulate with ginseng. Since that time, Sulwhasoo has dedicated more than 50 years of research and technology to the ancient herb. So when I learned that the brand had finally added the star ingredient to its iconic First Care Activating Serum—a product I’ve used and adored for years—I couldn’t wait to give the new formulation a go. Here’s how the upgraded serum is leveling up my routine.

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum VI

First Care Activating Serum VI

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum VI

It helps strengthen the skin barrier.

Not-so-fun fact about yours truly: I have a chronic condition called Netherton syndrome that weakens my moisture barrier. So I’m always looking for skin-care products that help address dry patches. I was happy to find that the new formula is even better suited for this challenge. Sulwhasoo’s hyper-concentrated form of Korean ginseng extract is infused in its Sulwhasoo Master Complex™ to help strengthen the moisture barrier and boost skin’s natural abilities to function optimally. Following my usual routine with the product, I applied it on damp skin after cleansing and before moisturizing. After just a few weeks of use, I’ve noticed that my skin isn’t nearly as stressed or temperamental as usual. My tone appears more even, and my skin’s texture is visibly smoother.

It targets visible premature signs of aging.

I just turned 30 and am starting to notice that my fine lines are getting deeper and my skin isn’t as firm as it used to be. In comes Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum VI, which utilizes the power of ginseng to address visible signs of aging, including loss of firmness, lack of hydration, and fine lines and wrinkles. As a beauty writer who has tried countless lackluster products that make these same claims, I appreciate that Sulwhasoo has the science to back them up: Its clinical studies showed that the formula improves the look of 10 signs of skin aging within four weeks.*

And for my part, I’ve definitely noticed that my laugh lines now appear minimized, and the skin around my eyes and jawline looks more taut. Overall, I love how bright and healthy my complexion looks.

It’s backed by decades of research.

Get this: It took more than 26 years of research and development for Sulwhasoo to get this formula to where it is today. Worth the wait, the newest version has been shown to have better absorption and improved skin barrier strengthening properties. And while I’m not sure how the brand could possibly top this iteration, I bet it will find a way to keep impressing skin-care devotees like me for years to come.

*Based on an 8-week clinical study on 30 women 39 to 60.

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