Sulwhasoo is a Korean beauty brand that’s most well known for the bestseller Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum
And when we say bestseller, we aren’t exaggerating; one bottle of Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum is sold every 10 seconds in Korea, and since its launch in 1997, more than 35 million bottles have been sold worldwide!
But is Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum really worth the hype? To answer this question, we’ll have to evaluate the formulation details, including the key ingredients and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skincare.
We’ll also share some Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of this product.
Is Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Right For You?
Before we get into the details, here’s the TL;DR if you just want to know whether or not Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum is right for you.
- Key ingredients? Denatured alcohol, lotus, rehmannia, peony, Solomon’s seal, and white lily
- Skin type? Recommended for all skin types
- Texture? Gel-like serum
- Fragrance? Yes
- Cruelty free? No
- Cost? $89 USD for 60 mL
What Are The Key Ingredients in Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum?
In order to determine how well Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum performs, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in this formula. Let’s get started.
According to the brand, the secret behind Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum is in JAUM Activator, a proprietary blend of 5 herbs (lotus, rehmannia, peony, Solomon’s seal, and white lily).
Together, these herbs are said to improve the look of skin’s hydration, brightness, radiance, translucency, visible wrinkles, and moisture barrier.
One thing we have to point out about the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum formula is the high concentration of denatured alcohol. In fact, it’s the highest concentration ingredient after water!
So why is this a problem? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of denatured alcohol.
On one hand, alcohol functions as a penetration enhancer by disturbing the skin barrier so that key ingredients can penetrate deeper into the skin. It also helps to remove excess oil and temporarily tighten skin while giving products a weightless feel and quick-drying finish.
On the other hand, alcohol-based products can cause excessive skin dryness. Over time, this can cause the sebaceous glands to compensate by producing even more oil, leading to clogged pores and acne.
Furthermore, alcohol disrupts the lipids that make up the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin), according to a publication in the journal BBA Biomembranes.
While there are some benefits of denatured alcohol, we don’t believe the benefits outweigh the risks, which is why we don’t recommend Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum.
There’s also high concentrations of several different humectants in Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum, such as butylene glycol and betaine.
A humectant has a molecular structure with several hydrophilic (water loving) groups, such as hydroxyl groups (OH) and/or amine groups (NH2). These groups hydrogen bond with water, essentially “grabbing” it and holding it on the skin.
Humectants pull water from the dermis to the epidermis and stratum corneum in order to hydrate the upper layers of skin. In addition, humectants can draw water vapor from the air to help moisturize the skin if the humidity is over 50 percent.
How to Use Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum?
After your morning and evening cleansing ritual, apply three pumps of Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum to damp skin with your fingertips and press serum into skin with an open palm for optimal absorption.
Where to Buy Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum?
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum and other Sulwhasoo skin care products are sold on the brand’s website (sulwhasoo.com), as well as several third party online retailers, such as Sephora, Nordstrom, Amazon, and more.
How Much is Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum?
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum costs $89 USD for 60 mL on the brand’s website.
What is The Sulwhasoo Return Policy?
The Sulwhasoo return policy states, “We are happy to accept merchandise purchased from our web site at Sulwhasoo.com within 60 days of purchase. Return labels will be provided for a $5 fee.”
Is Sulwhasoo Cruelty Free?
No, Sulwhasoo is not cruelty free because Sulwhasoo skincare products are sold in mainland China where animal testing is required by law.
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Reviews
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Reviews on Sephora.com are mostly positive, with the product receiving an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 700 customer reviews.
There are many 5-star reviews for Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum from customers who love that it helps other products penetrate better and reduces signs of aging.
For example, one review says, “Used this serum along with the renewing cream the night before and received compliments about looking younger which I never have before using any other serum.”
And another 5-star review says, “This is a great product to have in your stash. I love using it as the first step in my skincare routine as it is lightweight and slightly hydrating. It helps absorb the following products better and has great antioxidants.”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum, which are primarily from customers who noticed the high amount of alcohol in this product.
For example, one review says, “I was very excited to try this product because of all the rave reviews on here…however the first thing I noticed when I opened the bottle was the unmistakable scent of alcohol. I thought that I must be wrong, because this is a luxury beauty product, so I researched and found out that this product does in fact contain alcohol, which means that it will not be going on my face. Alcohol is one of the absolute WORST ingredients for your skin.”
Another 1-star review says, “I have very dry skin with hormonal acne. Alcohol denat is one of the first few ingredients and it eventually took its toll on my skin, and completely dried me out. Most of their products have alcohol denat fairly high on the ingredient list (except the ginseng moisturizer). My skin got SO dry.”
Overall, we don’t recommend Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum due to the high concentration of denatured alcohol, as well as the fragrance in this formula.
- JAUM activator contains a beneficial blend of herbs
- Many positive Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum reviews
- High concentration of denatured alcohol
- Formula contains fragrance
- Sulwhasoo is not cruelty free
What Are Some Alternatives to Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum?
If you’re looking for skin care products to address the signs of aging, one brand we recommend is Formulyst. Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in clinically advanced skin care solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.
For example, Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Concentrate can help to address multiple signs of aging at once. This serum contains natural ingredients like squalane, green tea, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which provide powerful antioxidant activity to protect the skin against environmental free radicals that are known to degrade collagen. In addition, this serum contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide complex that works to restore and maintain the skin’s youthful appearance by signaling to cells to produce more collagen.
Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.