If you’ve ever looked into Korean skincare, also known as k beauty, you have for sure heard of Amore Pacific’s ultra premium brand, Sulwhasoo. Sulwhasoo is the shit. Their ingredient decks are impeccable and amazing, the Ivy league of ingredient decks. Their products are also amazingly priced. And by amazingly, I mean ridiculously. This beautiful, magical beast here, the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewal Cream, costs a mere $220 on Sulwhasoo’s U.S. website. For 60 ml (about 2 oz.).
I’m vain AF but, frankly, NO. I can’t justify that price tag personally, no matter how much unicorn blood it contains. To be totally fair (and balanced!), if you can/do spend these kind of sums, more power to you. Seriously. I am not judging, but merely mentioning that $220 for one jar of goo is not in my own particular budget.
What’s a vain, product junkie to do when faced with this gold-plated, ginseng infused carrot dangled in front of their nose? Instagram knows — you buy a shit ton of samples on eBay and squirt them into your own container.
Ghetto? Probably. Cost effective? For sure.
Having never tried this cream, I didn’t really want to buy a full 60 ml in case it was a hot mess for me, so I ordered 20-1 ml packets from a Korean eBayer, for about $12 including shipping. I used my Japanese mailing address and had the packets in about a week, give or take.
The Math on decanting the Sulwhasoo ginseng cream
In case math isn’t your jam, I’ll break down why I decided to try this somewhat ghetto operation: Regular Sulwhasoo.com price from the states (this is not available locally to me in Japan): $3.67 per ml, or $73 for the 20 ml I ordered. I paid .60 per ml, saving me $61.
I used an empty skin cream jar that I ran through the dishwasher prior to re-using. And yes, you will lose a small amount by nature of moving the product from the packet to the jar. For me, it ended up being my patch test, as I used the tiny bit that stuck to the packet opening on my neck and back of hands. Needless to say, my neck and the back of my hands were gloriously moisturized that day.
Did I feel like a major weirdo? Honestly, yes. For me, it was worth it as a. I wanted to try this super amazing sounding product and b. $61. Also, I had been itching (not literally) to try ginseng as an active ingredient as I had read it was helpful for both acne and dark circles (yes I have both, and no, I’m not bitter. At all).
So … the discerning reader may be wondering … WHY? Why would a cream cost $220? Why would this crazy-ass lady squeeze all these tiny-ass packets into a jar?
Beyond the reviews (because let’s be honest, people buying luxury products often get some placebo affect from the luxury pricepoint and packaging alone), the ingredient list of this Sulwhasoo cream is super intoxicatingly intriguing: three different forms of ginseng (five year old ginseng!) which is purported to be anti-aging and skin brightening, squalane (not only moisturizing, it also can help treat eczema and a host of other skin conditions), and a shit ton of other high quality anti-aging ingredients. It’s a real kitchen sink product, which has it’s up and downsides.
First Impressions on Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream
This is not a moisturizer for a very oily skin, at least at my first use and impression. I also, having combo skin, would not use this during the day, mostly for time constraints. It did fully absorb, but it took around a half hour before I didn’t feel greasy.
The scent smells exactly like ginseng, which if you aren’t familiar with the scent of ginseng, smells exactly like what putting raw burdock into your vitamix smells like. No? OK–It’s similar to fresh ginger root, but a bit mustier.
What’s amazing is, like many Asian food and beauty products, the shnozzberries taste like shnozzberries. What I mean is, even at a humble McDonald’s in Japan, a strawberry milkshake tastes like real, fresh strawberries (versus in the U.S. where it tastes like “artificial strawberry flavoring” and “Red 30” or whatever). So of course, when you ratchet up the price point from McD’s to a $220 face cream from Sulwhasoo, it’s definitely going to smell exactly like what is in it. Which shouldn’t be impressive, but being from the land of Red 30, it is.
And on my skin: so far, excellent hydration and short-term brightening effects, no breakouts or skin irritations (my skin runs a bit sensitive and very acne-prone). Definitely worth $12 and ten minutes so far. I’ll update as I use the product more.