Hubert Burda Media

Beauty goes deeper with Sulwhasoo

Its ION Orchard boutique ups the facial game with ginseng foot baths, face massages using traditional jade applicators and soundproof cabins.

Step into Sulwhasoo’s boutique and premium beauty lounge at ION Orchard and you’ll be wondering how the popular South Korean luxury brand must have used premium sound-insulating building materials to construct its facial cabins here.

Just a couple of minutes into your treatment, you’ll forget you’re in one of Singapore’s busiest shopping malls.

The 1,300-sqft ION Orchard boutique is home to one of three Sulwhasoo beauty lounges in Singapore. Two others are at Capitol Building and Westgate, while the brand has a newly renovated facial cabin comprising two rooms at Tangs Orchard.

When the ION Orchard branch was launched late last year, Singapore became the first in Southeast Asia to introduce the Sulwhasoo Spa 2.0 Program that incorporates extended (read: more pampering) treatments with the use of new applicators, products and massaging techniques developed in South Korea.

The moment you arrive at this boutique, you’ll be greeted by an interesting display of traditional applicators used in Sulwhasoo’s facial treatments. Unlike most other brands, this doesn’t use the same generic applicators for every facial but has one for every treatment. The reason? It believes that different ones — and the materials they are made of — help to enhance the efficacy of the facials and skincare.

For instance, during the Snowise Brightening Treatment, white jade applicators are used to help reduce dullness in skin. For the Timetreasure Renovating Treatment, however, amber applicators are used for their skin-energising, anti-ageing properties.

At the display zone, you’ll also see the brand’s iconic JAUM Balancing Complex, which is derived from more than 3,000 ingredients and said to help restore skin’s youthfulness. Case in point: It’s used in the First Care Activating Serum EX. Another highlight in this display zone is the Essential Firming Cream EX. It is used in the 60-minute Essential Treatment, a facial that uses products from Sulwhasoo’s Essential Line  to replenish moisture in dry, dull skin. This is only available at ION Orchard.

Plus, the spacious boutique houses a couple of comfy sofas for facial consultations as well as the most fan-worthy plethora of skincare and make-up products that you can try before you buy.

With the Spa 2.0 Program, each Sulwhasoo beauty lounge offers an exclusive “extension” to your facial. At ION Orchard, this comes as a complimentary Foot Bath done in the privacy and comfort of the dimly lit cabin before your facial.

I tried the 80-minute Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Treatment during lunch hour on a busy Friday and my cabin was virtually noise-less. To start my session, I soaked my feet in warm red ginseng water and my therapist cleansed them with a scrub made of ginseng peel. Created in South Korea, the Foot Bath is designed to relax your mind and body, and also relieve tired (post-shopping) soles. To accommodate the seating area for the Foot Bath, we’re told that the cabins at ION Orchard are about 20 percent bigger than that in Capitol Building.

After getting comfortable on the facial bed, I was asked to choose from four herbal medicinal aromatic oils. I stuck to my favourite pine for its refreshing scent. My therapist then ran a soft pine-fragranced cloth over my face and kneaded certain meridian points on my face to prep it for the facial. This unusual dry cloth massage was once performed in the royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea.

It was the first of countless massage techniques deployed for this treatment — a bonus for me as I really love facials that work in lots of tension-relieving massages.

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX with jade applicators

After deep-cleansing my skin, the First Care Activating Serum and the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream were applied, followed by a face mask. She then did a décolleté massage, kneading away the tight tension in my neck and shoulders.

During this facial, jade applicators in the shape of rings were used to help inhibit signs of skin ageing such as wrinkles. These rings felt very cooling on my face as my therapist smoothed away fine lines, relaxing my cheekbones and jawline along the way.

Then, a spa-exclusive Moisturizing Ampoule was applied to keep skin hydrated and radiant. She next used a remodelling mask on me, brushing the thick cream over my eyelids and lips too. While it worked its magic, I was given a hand and arm massage.

And just when I thought this must be the facial of all facials, she topped off the experience with the Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum, using a series of interesting finger-massage techniques. These include gentle “twist-pinching” to perk up the skin, and quick, nimble “lifting” actions to give my face that pre-weekend pick-me-up.

After the facial, I was led to a quiet corner outside my cabin where I could straighten my hair, apply make-up from a generous selection of Sulwhasoo products and sip Korean fruit tea. This touch-up counter is tucked away at the back of the boutique and hidden from public view by a heavy door so you can take your time to chill out and doll up before you head back into the cacophonous world outside.

First published in Prestige Singapore’s August 2017 issue.