Skincare is constantly changing, with new ingredients, formulations, and innovations to be had. And while some skincare products rest on their laurels, rely on their reputation, or both, that’s not the case with Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum. What sets it apart from the rest? It just gets better and better. Not content with results once deemed good enough, the brand regularly reassesses and tweaks the formula to ensure the best possible performance, while also incorporating new research and proven ingredients to pull it off. The payoff for skin: more radiance, better hydration, and a stronger moisture barrier.
Its popularity shows no sign of slowing down, either. A bottle is sold every ten seconds¹, and more than half a million customers have purchased 10 bottles (or more) of the serum.² Now, it’s about to get even better: In honor of the 26th anniversary of the product’s debut, Sulwhasoo is dropping its sixth generation of the serum, which now counts skincare-powerhouse ginseng among its ingredients.
It’s no surprise for fans of the Korean beauty brand, as Sulwhasoo has always been ahead of the curve. While many of us stateside only became familiar with the breadth of K-beauty in the past decade or so, Sulwhasoo is the outlier; the brand was founded in 1932 and gained a following for merging modern technology with time-tested herbal ingredients.
Its desire to raise the bar might explain why the First Care Activating Serum has been a hit since its first iteration, which launched in 1997 as a way to prep skin after cleansing. That formula, and the four that have followed since, have been powered by the brand’s Jaum Activator Complex™; it’s an optimized blend of herbs — lotus, white lily, Solomon’s seal, peony, and rehmannia — that’s been backed by years of research.
These ingredients work together to nourish skin on six levels, improving hydration, brightness, radiance, visible wrinkles, translucency, and skin’s moisture barrier. They translate to long-term benefits, too: A study designed by the brand tracked down Korean women that have used First Care Activating Serum for an average of 12 years and found that their skin appears more than 13 years younger (compared to average skincare users in the same age group).³
And now, the next-gen formula introduces the Sulwhasoo Master Complex™, which uses exclusive ginseng technology to revitalize complexion. To be fair, ginseng isn’t particularly new for Sulwhasoo, which has been researching the herb for more than 50 years. (In fact, it was among the first brands to harness the ingredient within skincare.) But Sulwhasoo doesn’t use just any ginseng. Rather, its extract uses the extract that contains a rare and highly concentrated ginseng saponin to rejuvenate skin and address visible signs of aging.
The results are not just impressive, but also immediate: Right after use, the formula offers instant hydration and gives skin a glow; in three days, it even improves the skin barrier.⁴ After four weeks, it improves visible signs of skin aging and promotes a healthy-looking complexion.⁵
Along with the actual formulation, the bottle has also gotten an upgrade, with sleek, matte white packaging that gives it a future-forward look without forgetting its heritage. And that’s ultimately the goal for the First Care Activating Serum in general: to make the most of modern technology while paying respect to the fan-favorite, tried-and-true formula. And with each new version, it manages to do just that.
¹Based on aggregated unit sales in Korea in all channels excluding duty free stores from 2012 -2022.
²Based on accumulated domestic sales data within Korea from its first release in 1997 to October 2022.
³Based on a skin condition evaluation study on 95 Korean women ages 22 to 80 with up to 20 years of long-term consecutive usage of First Care Activating Serum, measuring 5 Youth Indicators — hydration, brightness, radiance, translucency and eye wrinkles — compared to the same age groups in Sulwhasoo’s skincare characteristic database of 195 Korean women.
⁴Tested on the forearm. Based on an 8-week clinical study on 30 women 39 to 60.
⁵Based on an 8-week clinical study on 30 women 39 to 60.