Hello and thank you for visiting this little Rainy Wonderland!
So for this post lets talk about K-beauty!
Earlier last year I became pretty intrigued with Korean skincare, in particular herbal-skincare (also known as Hanbang). The philosophy behind Hanbang skincare is to use natural herbal ingredients to deliver not only effective, but also holistic skincare. Now the most popular & consequently most commonly used ingredient in Hanbang skincare products is Ginseng… which some of us love and others probably hate (mostly because of the potent herbal smell)! Ginseng has a variety of health benefits so it’s no wonder Koreans use it in their soups, teas and skincare! But for your skin, Ginseng is believed to improve blood circulation and so complexion and has the ability to metabolise and activate the skin’s metabolism, making it a great anti-aging product! Sounds great yea?
Whilst Korea has a lot of famous Hanbang skincare companies, Sulwhasoo is by far the most famous and renown. Sulwhasoo is especially famous for it’s First Activating Care Serum and Perfecting cushions (both have raving reviews online) . I bought the Sulwhasoo’s Essential Trio set at Changi Airport ( for ~ 242.20 SGD) during my last trip to Singapore, and I must say it’s definitely great value for money! If you’re stopping by a Sulwhasoo store or a duty-free store that stocks this set, then I highly suggest you invest in this pack!
Sulwhasoo’s Essential Trio Set (note image below not inclusive of other sample sized products “gifted” with this set – only because I’ve used most of them up 😦 )
What’s in the set?
- Essential Balancing Essence 90ml
- Essential Balancing Water EX 125 ml
- Essential Balancing Emulsion EX 125 ml
- Gentle Cleansing Foam 15ml
- First Care Activating Serum 8ml
- Essential Balancing Water 15ml
- Essential Rejuvenating Eye Cream 3.5 ml
- Essential Firming Cream 5ml
- Overnight Vitalising Mask 15ml
The First Care Activating Serum, Essential Balancing Water EX and Essential Balancing Emulsion EX comes in both full sizes sand travel sizes. I’ll try to keep this post short-esh, so I’ll only be doing a review on the three full size products (hehe).
Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum
An essential regimen first-step serum formulated with JAUM balancing complex™ assures optimal skincare results by restoring balance to skin.
I had already used up a bottle of this expensive serum before and knew it was something that my skincare routine needed. The First Care Activating Serum keeps my skin moisturised and healthy looking. The dose of hydration it provides prevents dehydration and helps plump up my face and reduces the appears of my pores (mostly because my skin is not as dry as it was before).
The serum is brownish in colour and smells strongly of ginseng and other herbal conoctions (also a hint of added fragrance) . I personally love this natural woody scent but if you hate anything herbal smelling then this may be a challenge.
Price: Expensive. By itself the serum is pretty expensive, I’d say the prices are on par with that of SK-II products so it’s definitely an investment. It is much better value for money to purchase the serum through this trio pack.
Packaging: Luxurious packaging but heavy so whilst it’ll look great on your vanity table, it’ll be a burden in your travel bags 😐
Perfect for: Dehydrated skin – especially great if you have oily but dehydrated skin, this will give your skin a boost of much needed hydration!
Repurchase? Yes. For sure! I’ve seen great results with this product and my skin is a lot more hydrated than it’s ever been. It comes in two sizes, 60ml and 90ml – occasionally there might be a special limited edition bottle which contains about 120ml (from memory). Definitely worth the price tag 😉
Holy grail status? Yes
I generally use this twice a day, after my SK-II Facial Treatment Essence just to add an extra punch of hydration. Whilst writing this review I have become aware that I am dangerously low on this serum, so I’m gonna need to get my hands on more ASAP! 😉
Sulwhasoo’s Essenential Balancing Water EX
A gel-textured toner that prepares skin for deep moisturization.
I didn’t think much of this Balancing Water when I bought the pack… but once I gave it a decent try I was so pleasantly surprised! The Balancing Water EX is slightly gel-like in texture but at the same time also pretty watery. It absorbs into the skin ASAP leaving it feeling plump and hydrated. I like to leave it in my bathroom so I can use it straight after my showers, just because it just rehydrates my face again so quickly! I like to use this in place of a hydrating toner in my skincare routine, and so far so good! I’m actually also about to run out so I’m gonna need to replenish my supplies when I head over to Singapore again!
Price: Reasonable. So the price for this Balancing Water isn’t by any means cheap but is pretty reasonable considering it is a great product and it’s from a luxury brand.
Packaging: Again, luxurious packaging. I would have prefered it if it’d came with a spray or something similar just to make it more hygienic and easy to use…. but this traditional toner type bottle isn’t too bad either.
Perfect for: All skin types. If your skin is tight and dry after a shower then this will be your best buddy! It’ll give you back the hydrations straight away!
Repurchase? For sure! The ability of this balancing water to rehydrate my skin is second to no other, until I can find one that works just as well, I’ll need to keep using this 😉 !
Holy grail? Yes!
Sulwhasoo’s Essential Balancing Emulsion EX
A moisture-rich emulsion that absorbs quickly for soft and smooth skin.
I’m risking sounding like a broken record, but again, this product surprised me! The emulsion feels pretty thick but once applied on the skin is absorbs nice and easily. In fact, you can’t even feel it once it has fully absorbed. In winter I like to use this before my moisturisers (because my skin just needs some more TLC), but in summer when my skin is always oily, I like to use this emulsion in place of a moisturiser.
The Balancing Emulsion again has a strong herbal scent to it (which I expect from a Hanbang product). I do advise you to patch test all of these products prior to applying them all over your faces especially because it does contain high concentration of natural products like ginseng which can be irritating for some people, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Price: Expensive. This is pretty expensive for an emulsion, but again great value for money in the trio set!
Packaging: Luxurious packaging like the other two products, the bottle is made of glass I assume since it’s very heavy. I don’t like the packaging for the emulsion because it requires a lot of shaking and tapping and can hurt my palms after a while.
Perfect for: All skin types (but best for Combo or Oily skin). It is a great emulsion for us oily skin ladies/gents, especially if normal moisturisers are just too heavy or oily during the hot summer times. It’s also a great alternative to a moisturisers for those of us who live in humid environments where other moisturisers are just too heavy.
Repurchase? Probably not. I like this emulsion and I truly think that it’s a great emulsion that moisturisers and absorbs really well but there’s no wow factor there. I think I’ll be able to find other emulsions out there that can do an equally great job.
Holy grail? Not at the moment.
Generally, this emulsion was enough to lock up my skincare routine and keep my skin nourished and moisturised enough during the dry summer seasons! I highly suggest you give this ago, especially if you have oily – combo skin and especially if you find normal moisturisers too thick for you during humid or hot seasons.
🙂 🙂 🙂
So that’s it folks! I hope you found this review useful! What do you think about Korean Hanbang skincare? 🙂
Until next time, stay curious!