Remember the days when maintaining a three-step beauty routine meant that you were winning at life? Then came K-beauty. As South Korea’s obsession with dewy, high-maintenance complexions started to gain global traction, our routines began inflating, up to 10 (or even more) seasonally and hormonally adjusted skincare steps. Pre-cleansers, essences and sheet masks started to vie for space in our bathroom cabinets as we raced to slather on snail mucus and egg-white concoctions.
Aside from the sheer variety and innovation of “must-have” Korean skincare potions which popped up over recent years, perky packaging and affordable price-points helped catapult K-beauty brands to international cult status.
Standing proud among K-beauty’s cutesy panda compacts and cartoon labels is 52-year-old Korean brand, Sulwhasoo. Seemingly impervious to shifting trends, this beauty pioneer remains one of Korea’s most recognised brands – with a rapidly growing global presence, too.
Sulwhasoo was originally inspired by a camellia oil created by founder Suh Sung-whan’s mother and the precious ginseng from his native city, Kaesong. But as much as it venerates traditional wisdom, it also continually innovates. “We employ a team of 500 researchers focusing on nature-driven formulas and proprietary technologies to keep us at the cutting-edge of product development,” says Xu Binghui, Senior Vice President at Sulwhasoo’s parent company, AmorePacific.
In 1997, Sulwhasoo launched its First Care Activating Serum EX, which was to become its best- selling product until today. The boosting serum introduced a new category at the time (yet another skincare step) designed to balance the skin and prepare it for better absorption of subsequent products.
First Care Activating Serum EX is formulated from a blend of five carefully selected herbs – peony, lotus, white lily, Solomon’s seal and rehmannia – using the advanced PREXtract Process technology to extract the active ingredients, which is then decocted for 18 hours. The powerful elixir is trademarked as JAUM Balancing Complex and helps to harmonise and replenish skin’s energy from within, leaving it moisturised and nourished.
The application ritual is an important part of the soothing Sulwhasoo experience. The lightweight golden elixir, which is easily absorbed by the skin and leaves it feeling instantly softer and hydrated with a fresh botanical scent. “With regular use, the JAUM Balancing Complex achieves skin balance in terms of nourishment, vitality, clarity, resilience and regeneration, making it look radiant,” adds Xu.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its signature serum (now in its fourth-generation), Sulwhasoo launched a limited edition 120ml bottle decorated with gold-etched plum blossoms and hosted a celebratory banquet in Shanghai in May. As well as sharing its holistic values balancing traditional Asian medicinal herbs and modern science, the event introduced its first-ever Brand Muse.
Korean TV and film star Song Hye-kyo is a classic beauty and successful businesswoman. Ms Song represents Sulwhasoo’s unswerving focus on sophistication and balance – qualities that have enabled this venerable brand to stand the test of time in the fast-changing beauty market so gracefully.