Balance. That just-right point where things are on an even keel, there’s equilibrium, and all things are equal. It’s a delicate, precarious spot that could easily tip over into too little or too much. It’s a state of existence that everyone is striving to reach. Every day.

You see it in the niggling feeling that we’re not quite functioning at our best. You see it in the surge of clean-eating diets and wellness retreats, fad workouts, tailored lifestyle programmes and alternative  treatments, all designed to help us achieve harmony in body and mind – the cure-all for the long work hours, utter exhaustion and dwindling me time we experience.

In the beauty industry too, the spotlight is shifting. The very latest skincare launches are less about troubleshooting superficial problems like wrinkles and spots, and more about helping skin flourish and function well from the inside. And more and more products are geared towards fostering skin health.

For many cosmetics brands, this represents a significant change in their approach to countering the signs of ageing, and their goal of giving you beautiful skin. But for Korean label Sulwhasoo, whose brand identity has always been built on the Asian concepts of balance and harmony between mind and body, it’s par for the course – and has been for 20 years.

What Is Balanced Skin?

According to Sulwhasoo researchers, balanced skin preserves its natural, stable internal environment so that it can be at its best in performing functions such as retaining moisture, renewal, and repair.

When skin is not properly protected from internal stressors brought about by a poor diet, and lack of exercise and rest, and external stressors like pollution and UV rays, it falls out of balance.

Although the skin is a smart organ that can recover from these setbacks, it loses its ability to restore its balance if it is under constant stress. When that happens, you’ll notice dryness, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and a loss of firmness. Restoring Balance and Harmony This belief that balanced skin equals beautiful skin is best exemplified in Sulwhasoo’s signature skincare product – the First Care Activating Serum EX, a pre-serum based on traditional Korean herbal medicine.

Sulwhasoo celebrates the 20th anniversary of its First Care Activating Serum EX with this limited-edition jumbo-sized bottle. The 120ml bottle, double the usual size, costs $195.

“The underlying message of Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Serum EX is that just as a balanced mind, attitude and sense of self add more substance to our lives, balance in the skin – which is easily shattered due to external influences – brings a healthy, radiant look,” says Joohyun Chun, team leader of Sulwhasoo’s marketing communications team.


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Used as the first step after cleansing, the balancing serum is said to restore skin balance, getting normal functions like retaining moisture and skin renewal working smoothly. It does this through the use of selected medicinal herbs that reportedly replenish the “yin” energy in skin. “Yin deficiency [is a concept] in traditional Asian medicine. It causes a worsening dryness of the skin,” says Sowoong Choi, Sulwhasoo’s senior researcher. “Once the skin’s ability to replenish moisture is damaged, problems like premature ageing set in.” That’s because moisture is not only crucial for firmness and resilience, it also maintains the skin structure and is a barrier against external stressors.

Aside from bringing balance to your skin, this is a highly sensorial product which has the subtle, pleasant scent of ginseng to help soothe the senses and quiet the mind as you massage the lightweight serum over your face.


“Having harmony and balance between mind and body means getting in touch with the inner self, which is just as important as taking care of one’s appearance.” – Joohyun Chun, team leader of Sulwhasoo’s marketing communications team


For a Hydrating Boost

Sulwhasoo is also commemorating the 20th anniversary of its First Care Activating Serum EX with the launch of its First Care Activating Mask.

“We recommend using this sheet mask if you notice skin dryness and loss of radiance, and need instant improvement,” says Sowoong. “The serum is a bestseller, but we know that some customers want a higher concentration and faster efficacy. This mask was designed to answer that need.”

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask, $72 for a box of five sheets.

As with the serum, the mask’s central ingredient is the Jaum Balancing Complex – a herbal blend of peony, Solomon’s seal, lotus, rehmannia and white lily. Each was chosen from 3,000 medicinal herbs: peony and Solomon’s seal balance yin energy and soothe; lotus and rehmannia moisturise and boost circulation; and white lily calms and nourishes.

“The mask’s immediate visible effect is that it enhances radiance. Unlike a hydrating mask, it doesn’t just give a temporary sense of moisture. This delivers pure lustre and smoother, healthier-looking skin,” says Joohyun.


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4 ways to use the First Care Activating Serum EX

Jamie Yoon, global makeup artist for Sulwhasoo, shares tips on how to make the most of the product.

1. To Soothe Your Senses

Rub your hands together to warm the serum, then take in the scent when you lift your palms to your face – it’s designed to give you a sense of comfort and calm.

2. To Boost Blood Circulation

Work in a light acupoint massage when applying the serum by pressing lightly on your temples, the corners of your mouth and the sides of your nose.

3. To Tackle Very Dry Skin

Mix the serum with a few drops of Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil to further nourish and moisturise the skin.

4. To Hide the Signs of Dry Skin

If you have dry patches on your face, mix the serum with the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion foundation when applying makeup. Dispense one pump of the serum onto the back of your hand and use the cushion puff to soak it up before picking up foundation with it.


This story was published in the June 2017 issue of Her World magazine.