You might be familiar with Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum EX ($115). Formulated with five carefully chosen Korean medicinal herbs (peony, lotus, Solomon’s seal, white lily and rehmannia), it is a pre-serum that you apply on your face right after cleansing, to help your subsequent skincare penetrate better and to nourish dehydrated skin.
If you already thought this serum as a godsend, you’d be excited to hear what we have to say.
Earlier this year, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the First Care Activating Serum EX, which also happens to be Sulwhasoo’s best-selling product, the brand launched its First Care Activating Mask ($72 for 5 sheets). Basically, this is a sheet mask that works the same way as the serum – except way more intensely. It holds one-third of a bottle of the serum (imagine that!) in just one mask, intended to instantly soothe and hydrate dry skin. But it’s suitable for all skin types, especially if you feel that your skin is lacking hydration or nourishment on a particular day. It’s even made with 100% natural cotton fuzz and less pulp to reduce irritation to sensitive skin. Use it once or twice a week after cleansing. Skin is reportedly brighter and clearer, and primed for makeup application. We tried it, and here’s what we think.
VERDICT: "While this mask is made with ginseng extracts, the ginseng scent is very soothing and helps calm me down after a long day - the scent is not overpowering at all. I have eczema so I have dry patches on parts of my face, and I tend to sleep late so it takes a lot of products before bedtime for me to wake up with moisturised, glowing skin. I would use this pre-serum mask right after my cleanser, and after the mask, I would follow with a milky toning lotion, repairing serum and lightweight moisturiser before bedtime (what I would usually do). And because my skin is generally dry, it was easy for me to tell if there were any improvements at all. The next morning, my skin felt more moisturised; it wasn't red or itchy. I used it three times a week, with one day break in between, and I find that it really helped to reduce skin redness. I prefer to use this at night as it is more nourishing than the First Care Activating Serum EX, which I would use in the day." – Simone Wu, senior beauty editor
"This is by far one of my favourite masks to date. It fits super snugly onto my face, smells amazing (if you like its mild herbal scent) and helps the serum absorb very quickly. I have very dry skin that flakes if not moisturised properly, but just 10 minutes of this mask (and a simple moisturiser after) as part of my night-time skincare routine leaves my skin feeling super smooth and looking healthily radiant all the way till the next morning." – Dione Chen, beauty writer