This Is the Best-Selling Serum in Korea (and They Really Know Skin Care)

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K-beauty has officially become a mainstay in the U.S., but you don’t have to adopt its signature 10-step skin care routine in order to achieve clear, dewy skin. Stocking your beauty cabinet with a few basic essentials is often the recipe for success, and Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX ($84) is one of them. 

Named the best-selling serum in Korea (dubbed the “global hub of all things beauty”), its popularity can be attributed to a variety of factors; the main one being its power-packed formula, which features the brand’s trademarked JAUM Balancing Complex. A blend of five key Korean herbs—peony, sacred lotus, Solomon’s seal, white lily and rehmannia—selected from more than 3,000 ingredients found in ancient studies and tested for skin care efficacy, the Complex takes 18 hours to produce in small batches to achieve the proper concentration, which perfectly hydrates and balances skin for a healthy glow

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The name “First Care” stems from the idea that this should be the first product you use after cleansing, morning and night. It helps boost the absorption of the next skin care product you apply, as well as its results. If you want to really experience the serum in the way it was designed to be used, rub your hands to together to create warmth, dispense a few pumps onto your palms, and then breathe in the soothing, botanical scent for aromatherapeutic benefits. Next, gently press your palms onto your face to help the serum sink into your skin (check out the video below for a visual) and follow with moisturizer. 

I’ve been using the serum for two weeks and already see less blotchiness and a more even skin tone—my skin also feels more hydrated. It’s great for those with dry skin (mine is more combination and it seems like a good fit so far), but it also works on sensitive complexions. (Note. It does contain alcohol though, so do a patch test if your skin is easily irritated by products with alcohol in them). 

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Overall, a good way for me to describe it is like hair conditioner for your skin. You wouldn’t shampoo your hair without following with conditioner right? Similar concept here: You wash your face, then “condition” it. And in the long-term, you get a healthier, brighter, smoother complexion like so many of the women in Asia we admire.

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