If I ever develop brand loyalty, it will be for the lovely Hanyul, which from what I see is a more affordable hanbang alternative to Sulwhasoo aimed at the Korean domestic market only. As a sucker for the rare and unavailable stuff, I have been way more into Hanyul than the much more internationally available Sulwhasoo. An exception has been made for the Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask (featured here) which I love dearly, as Hanyul does not have a sleeping pack that I enjoy (not since the Rich Effect Overnight Mask anyway).
The Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum is a beloved product from the Sulwhasoo brand that is in the HG list of so many on the internet. While I was still using the Hanyul Optimizing Serum (read review), I’ve read that it is a dupe for the way more expensive FCAS, in that it is a fermented serum to be used right after cleansing, and purports to aid in the absorption of the subsequent skincare items in the routine. When I had excess expiring miles, I jumped at the chance and redeemed two bottles.
It comes with a plethora of plant extracts. For hanbang formulations I generally go by the experience more than anything in the ingredients list, as hanbang ingredients are not as well researched as the star ingredients like Vitamins A/B/C/E and the exfoliants like AHAs/BHAs.
Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Water, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol, Glycerin, Betaine, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Lilium Tigrinum Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Chrysanthemum Morifolium Flower Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Adenophora Stricta Root Extract, Lycium Chinense Root Extract, Coix Lacryma-Jobi Ma-Yuen Seed Extract, Angelica Tenuissima Root Extract, Honey, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Natto Gum, Beta-Glucan, Sodium Hyaluronate, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Zizyphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Peg/Ppg-17/6 Copolymer, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Potassium Carbomer, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Dextrin, Cellulose Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Phenyl Trimethicone, Propanediol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance
The serum comes in the form of a brownish gel-like liquid with a herbal fragrance, very similar to the Hanyul. It is light and layers nicely underneath all moisturisers and sunscreens that I have tried.
I’ve given it a few months of use and I can safely say that it did not do anything for my skin. I’ve tried halting its use for weeks and I have observed no difference to my skin.
To be fair, though, my regular routine is working great and I have no complaints at all. Credits go to the actives Melano CC (read review), Estée Lauder ANR (featured here) and a good emollient moisturiser Hanyul Baek Hwa Goh Cream (read review). Moreover, is not a fair comparison to the Hanyul Optimizing Serum (read review) as my skin is in a pretty much optimal state right now.
So peeps, if you haven’t found your HG serum, go ahead and give the sample or trial sizes of the FCAS a try. Otherwise, I will be giving this expensive serum a miss.