Holiday Gift Sets from Sulwhasoo + Mini-Reviews
Holiday gift sets have always been my favorite part of beauty shopping. They usually offer greater value than if you bought all products separately, and it also gives an opportunity to try out a bunch of different things. For travel-sized products, I tend to favor Sephora Favorites sets, but for full-sized sets, I shop directly from the brand because they often have more promotions, like free shipping, extra samples with orders, and special discounts. This year I’m swooning over the Sulwhasoo sets!
It’s no secret that Sulwhasoo is one of my all-time favorite K-beauty brands. I tried a lot of their products over the years and they rarely disappoint. I suspect this has something to do with ginseng – a nutrient-dense natural ingredient that my skin absolutely adores – and no one does ginseng skincare better than Sulwhasoo!
Sulwhasoo Cult Classics Set (outer packaging)
This year, Sulwhasoo collaborated with a talented Thai illustrator Phannapast Taychamaythakool to create this very special holiday collection of four gift sets. Each gift comes in special limited edition packaging adorned with Asian mythical creatures that will add a little bit of magic and sparkle to your holiday routine. The limited-edition collection includes the following gift sets:
- Essential Duo Set ($121 – $159 value)
- Cult Classics ($175 – $204 value)
- Concentrated Ginseng Collection ($325 – $434 value)
- Timetreasure Invigorating Collection ($720 – $911 value)
Sulwhasoo Essential Duo Set
Sulwhasoo Essential Duo Set is the most budget-friendly of the bunch and also allows you to try four different products. The set comes with full-sized bottles of Essential Balancing Water and Essential Balancing Emulsion, a full-sized single-use First Care Activating Mask, and travel-sized minis of Balancing Water, Emulsion, and my favorite First Care Activating Serum.
- Essential Balancing Water is a thick, gel-like toner that smells like ginseng. It’s really good at hydrating the skin and can be used as a toner for dry to combination skin, or as a super lightweight moisturizer for oily skin in a humid environment. A great multitasker!
- Essential Balancing Emulsion is a runny milky lotion that smells like ginseng. Can be used as an antioxidant serum or as a lightweight moisturizer for oily and combo skin. Makes the skin feel very soft.
- First Care Activating Mask is a more intensive version of the First Care Serum since the mask is pressing the liquid into the skin. As a single-use treatment, it will cool and moisturize the skin and give it an antioxidant boost. With long-term use, expect to see the same results as you would from the First Care Serum – brighter, plumper, more youthful-looking skin.
- First Care Activating Serum was my gateway drug into Sulwhasoo and my most-repurchased product, I lost count of how many bottles of this serum I finished already. This brownish-orange gel liquid spreads on the skin easily and absorbs without stickiness. The most noticeable benefit is the so-called “youthful glow” – it made my skin look overall prettier and younger. The complexion looks more even and perky without the grayish tone that comes with aging.
The Essential collection features skincare basics that help support the healthy skin barrier, optimal moisture levels, and deliver a boost of antioxidants. These products can be added to any skincare routine without disturbing the balance. Over the years I’ve included them in my actives-heavy anti-aging routines and gentle regimens for acne and sensitivities. And even though I paired them with dozens of different products, there was never a formula clash which is pretty impressive. The Essential collection was my gateway to Sulwhasoo, and because I had such a good initial experience with the entry-level line, I couldn’t wait to explore the more targeted collections.
Sulwhasoo Cult Classics Set
Sulwhasoo Cult Classics Set comes with two of the brand’s bestsellers, and they happen to be my favorites as well! If you asked me to pick two products that represent the best of what Sulwhasoo has to offer, these are the first products that come to mind. Cult Classics set includes a full-size First Care Activating Serum and intro size Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream.
- First Care Activating Serum is a wonderful product to try if you are new to Sulwhasoo. The formula is very unique and has no alternatives among k-beauty and Western brands. As much as I wanted to find a more affordable dupe, after trying dozens of ginseng serums I don’t think a comparable dupe exists. This serum is a jack-of-all-trades and helps boost the skin in many ways: brighter complexion, more even tone, smoother texture, plumper appearance, plus the added benefits of antioxidant protection. It has a slightly medicinal smell of ginseng and Asian herbs, but it doesn’t linger.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream has a rich, almost oily texture, that immediately softens dry and tired skin. It’s a targeted anti-aging multitasker equipped with over a dozen different botanical extracts, nourishing oils, retinol, salicylic acid, sodium hyaluronate, caffeine, and squalane – just to name a few. This well-rounded treatment can address all skincare concerns at once, from mild breakouts, fine lines, and wrinkles to hyperpigmentation, loss of firmness, and dehydration. So, another fantastic jack-of-all-trades!. It pairs well with the serum – they complement each other and boost each other’s effectiveness.
With this set, you get the best of both worlds – one product from the entry-level line plus one product from the brand’s most popular Concentrated Ginseng line. As a bonus, you also get a beautiful red velvet pouch to keep your new Sulwhasoo treasures!
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Collection
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Collection is a beauty to behold. This most popular line from Sulwhasoo focuses on the potent properties of ginseng in its many forms – juice, extract, oil, etc. Ginseng also happens to be one of my favorite skincare ingredients and it’s one of the few botanical ingredients whose effectiveness is backed by numerous clinical studies. This set gives you the opportunity to try five products from Concentrated Ginseng line, including my favorite Sulwhasoo moisturizer.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum is very emollient and a little goes a long way, so the 50ml pump bottle should last a long time. The serum – and the whole Concentrated Ginseng line, really – smells like ginseng and grassy herbs. It’s a medicinal fragrance but not too strong or offensive. From my limited experience with this serum, I found it to be ideal for softening the skin. It can help with a rough texture and dry patches, and also has a slight plumping effect.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream in its original formulation is very rich, perhaps too rich for someone with oily skin, but Sulwhasoo recently released the Light version. For a more detailed review, see the Cult Classics Set above.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Water has the consistency of a watery gel. It delivers a dose of antioxidants and quenches the skin with moisture, making it easy to incorporate into any routine.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Emulsion is best described as a lightweight moisturizer – that’s what emulsions are in Korean skincare. It can work as a lotion for oily skin or as an additional hydrating layer for dry skin.
- Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream has a very rich, creamy consistency and silky texture. It’s a good choice for someone who struggles with dry skin and a tight feeling around the eyes. Once I apply this cream, it actually stays on all day (or night). Like the rest of the line, it smells like ginseng but the fragrance is weaker, probably because it’s formulated for the eye area.
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Collection (outer packaging)
Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Invigorating Collection is the brand’s most indulgent gift set this season. I don’t own it so I couldn’t share any pictures, but I have some experience with one of the products that come in it – Timetreasure Invigorating Sleeping Mask – and it’s fantastic! This mask is a godsend for dehydrated skin. It’s not too rich or too heavy yet it still keeps the skin well-moisturized throughout the night. Timetreasure line celebrates the benefits of Korean red pine plus dozens of other Asian botanicals, including ginseng, to help complement the star ingredient. It has a light, floral fragrance with a hint of pine that is unlike any other and I find it very soothing. The mask comes with a beautiful soft brush that can be used for the application but I never really use mine. The results can be seen overnight – my skin looks plumper, more refreshed, and visibly more hydrated.
Are you splurging on any gift sets this year? Have you tried anything by Sulwhasoo?