Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews

Skincare guides & product reviews for hydration lovers & the moisture barrier obsessed

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil Review

[button link=”#” target=”_blank” color=”default” shape=”rounded” size=”small” align=”left”]I Bought This[/button]  [button link=”#” target=”_blank” color=”default” shape=”rounded” size=”small” align=”left”]Affiliate Links[/button] When I gifted myself a slew of Sulwhasoo products for Christmas, I initially thought I would skip the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil. My thought was that I already have so many facial oils I love, I wasn’t sure this would be worth the splurge. As soon as I tried the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream, however, I changed my mind. The moment the cream touched my face, I know I wanted the whole Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng experience, and this oil seemed like a big a part of it. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil

What is it?

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil ($130) is a moisturizing herbal oil that promises to fortify the skin’s “age-defying capacity,” and provide a radiant and clear complexion. It is said to address fine lines, dryness, dullness, and uneven skin tones. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil Ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Squalane, Panax Ginseng Seed Oil, Cocoglycerides, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Isostearyl Isostearate, Dimer Dilinoleyl Hydrogenated Rosinate, Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Pinus Koraiensis Seed Oil, Nelumbo Nucifera Germ Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Lilium Tigrinum Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract, Polygonatum Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Fragrance There are a lot of oils and extracts in this formula in addition to Ginseng Seed Oil. The first two, Meadowfoam Seed Oil and Squalane, are extremely stable oils that contain Vitamin E and moisturizing properties. Their inclusion in the formula helps extend the shelf life of the entire product, and I’m guessing that’s why they’re the first ingredients listed. Panax Ginseng Seed Oil – Panax Ginseng is obviously the star of the show in this formula. Ginseng is a fairly well documented ingredient – there are even some studies that suggest it may have some anticancer properties due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It’s also been shown in at least one in-vitro human study to stimulate collagen production, and has had numerous animal studies showing it to accelerate wound healing, and even reduce wrinkles caused by UV damage. A small sampling of available ginseng studies:• Panax ginseng induces human Type I collagen synthesis through activation of Smad signaling • Korean red ginseng extract ameliorates skin lesions in NC/Nga mice: An atopic dermatitis model • Effects of red ginseng extract on UVB irradiation-induced skin aging in hairless mice Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil When it comes to facial oils, I usually reach for 100%, undiluted, plant-based oils. I do this because I like getting the pure, unadulterated benefits those oils have to offer. In this product, there were multiple ingredients included in addition to the familiar oils and extracts. At first glance, I feared they might be cutting the benefits of the plant-derived ingredients, so I decided to take a closer look to see what the additions had to offer. Here’s the breakdown: Cocoglycerides – This is an emulsifying ingredient derived from vegetable oil and glucose. It’s also a skin conditioner with some occlusive properties, which help prevent trans-dermal water loss. Isostearyl Isostearate – This is a combination fatty acid and fatty alcohol. It’s a vegetable derived ingredient designed to be a skin-conditioning agent. Dimer Dilinoleyl Hydrogenated Rosinate – This is a dispersing, emulsifying, thickening, conditioning agent. It’s derived from hydrogenated rosin (a solid resin obtained from pine trees) and linoleyl (a fatty alcohol produced by the resection of linoleic acid). Oleic/Linoleic/Linolenic Polyglycerides – This ingredient is comprised of Polyglycerides derived from sunflower oil. It is both emollient and occlusive. The oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acid are all essential fatty acids, which are great for strengthening the skin’s barrier function, and also possess anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties. It’s rich in Vitamins A, C, and E. The occlusive properties help prevent water loss in the skin. My takeaway was that these ingredients do have some positive moisturizing and antioxidant properties, but that their inclusion was likely driven by a need to influence the viscosity, absorbency, and the shelf life of the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil (all of these ingredients are very shelf stable). This formula does have a few potential acne triggers according to COSDNA. Isostearyl Isostearate scores a 4 out of 5 as a potential acne trigger. Sesamum Indicum (Seasme) Seed Oil and Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil both score a 2 out of 5.


Appearance Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil comes packaged in a beautiful, orange, glass bottle with a finish that looks metallic. It has a glass dropper with a button dispenser on top of the orange, plastic cap. The oil itself is clear, with the faintest hint of yellow. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil The bottle feels heavy and sturdy, and there is an inner lip inside the upper portion of the bottle that help prevent any dripping, so there’s no worrying about losing any precious drops of the Sulwhasoo Ginseng oil to your countertop. However, the dropper itself is slightly curved, so there is a little bit of finesse required to pull the dropper out in the first place. There were a few occasions when I first started using the product when it seemed like the dropper was a little bit stuck. On one of those occasions, the glass dropper completely separated from the cap, causing me to panic. I was able to reattach the dropper easily enough, but it was annoying to have to contend with this, especially in light of this oil’s price point. It never happened again, and I no longer struggle with pulling the dropper out. Much like riding a bicycle or typing, properly pulling a dropper out of a bottle of Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil is apparently a matter of muscle memory. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil Smell Have you ever had sugared ginger? Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil smells exactly like that. I wish there were more ginger-scented skincare products in the world. Application I’m somewhat inconsistent with where in my routine I use the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil. Most of the time I apply it after my emulsion, before my moisturizing cream, and that seems to work out very well. Sometimes I use it before my emulsion, after my essence, and you know what? That works out well too. Either way, the emulsion or cream help the oil absorb more quickly, and mitigates any residual stickiness that would be left behind if I’d applied the oil last. To apply, I take one dropper full and rub it briefly between my hands before pressing it into the skin all over my face. I also like to throw in a few face pats for good measure. Results I’ve been using Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil for about 5 weeks on my dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin type. It is both emollient and occlusive, which are welcome benefits for me, especially in the winter. When I began using it, I was using it in conjunction with other Sulwhasoo products, including my much-loved Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream. My skin was glowed throughout the duration of my use of those products, and in general, felt soft, looked and felt smooth, bright, and I saw no evidence of acne breakouts. I’ve since moved on to testing some different cream products (it was a sad day when I used the last of my Sulwhasoo cream), but I am still using the Sulwhasoo oil. The oil works beautifully with the new products as well, though I can now see that the Sulwhasoo cream was the product responsible for the near-mystical levels of radiance I was experiencing. I’ve seen a definitive lightening in the red marks left behind by old acne breakouts, but I’ve also been using an AHA gel consistently over the past month, which is what I’m crediting with the accelerated fading of those spots. As far as wrinkles go – I don’t have many wrinkles, so I can’t speak to that. I do have a few fine lines around my eyes, and one line under my right eye that I think might count as a bona fide wrinkle. The moisture in the oil definitely helps with the appearance of those lines, but no more so my moisturizers and serums. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil In terms of how the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil compares to my other favorites beauty oils – my Argan, Passionfruit Seed, Baobob, Rose Hips, Grapeseed, etc. – I think it combines the best traits of each of them. I tend to get the most “glowiness” from my Passionfruit Seed, Rose Hips, and Grapeseed oils, and the Sulwhasoo oil imparts just as much glow as those do. The Passionfruit Seed and Rose Hips oils don’t give me as much emollient moisture as the Argan and Baobob oils do, however, the Sulwhasoo Ginseng oil is just as emollient. The Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil is very close to Baobob in terms of viscosity as well, which is a plus for me since I love the consistency of Baobob the most out of all of my face oils. I truly enjoy using the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil – the scent, texture, moisture, and radiance are all huge positives for me. But ultimately, I will go back to my other, lest costly face oils when I use up the last of the Sulwhasoo oil. The cost difference is too great to justify to a permanent switch, and I like being able to choose different oils for different days, depending on what I feel my skin needs that day. I also like being able to mix my beauty oils when the fancy strikes me, but the price makes me hesitate to mix my Sulwhasoo oil with anything (though I suppose it would make this bottle last a lot longer). Still, I maintain that if I ever won the lottery, I’d have a walk-in closet full of Sulwhasoo products. When that happens, this will certainly be one of the products that line my gold plated shelves. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil Pros: • Moisturizing (emollient and occlusive) • Imparts radiance • Reduces appearance of wrinkles • Smells amazing • Did not cause breakouts (though it does have some potential acne triggers) Cons: • Pulling the dropper out of the bottle requires finesse Skin & Tonics Rating: Performance: 5/5 – Moisturizing, luxurious, and makes skin glow Ingredients: 4/5 – Lots of beneficial antioxidant, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and shelf-stable ingredients along with a few potential acne triggers Packaging: 4/5 – Beautiful packaging that’s mostly sturdy, but the dropper could use some work. Overall: 4.4/5 Is it worth the money? As much as I love the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil, the price point is too high when I compare the performance against my less expensive face oils. I am far more likely to splurge on the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream if I’ve got extra cash to spend on a luxury skincare product because I felt the results were more dramatically different from other moisturizers I’ve tried. That said, if I had lots of money to burn, I’d stockpile this stuff like a doomsday prepper stocks rice.

Where to Buy

I purchased my Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil on the Neiman Marcus website, where it retails for $130. This oil is also available on W2Beauty where it retails for $139. First time customers can get a $5 W2Beauty voucher by entering my sponsor code at sign-up:025605.   This post contains affiliate links. Shopping these links helps support this site. Full disclosure

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5 comments onSulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil Review

  1. Ugh, I have such oil envy right now. By the way, have you tried any other skincare products that smelled like sugared ginger? Because that sounds extremely appealing to me.

    • Kerry

      Sadly, I do not yet know of any other skin care products that smell like sugared ginger. Before this product, I never even considered the possibility! I’m on a mission now, though. Surely,there are more out there!

  2. Here are some beautiful photos of the Sulwhasoo lines with some explanations.

    My favorite quote from the above link is the following:

    “I first came across Sulwhasoo when I visited Korea a few years ago. My host’s wife told me that she had been using it, and she had lovely skin! The name trips off your tongue and sounds like a breeze sighing through the trees. Try it for yourself – Sul-wha-soo…. Ahh…. 😀 What it means in Korean is “Snow Flower Supreme” which is just as romantic a notion, you will agree. A snow flower, I’m told, is a flower that blooms in the harsh winter so the name is a celebration of a woman’s beauty and inner strength.” 🙂

  3. Hi, thanks very much for this thorough review. I’m a caucasian female living in SF and am trying to spread word about Sulwahsoo amongst my friends. I got hooked onto Sulwahsoo by accident: the sales associate at Neiman Marcus approached my 9 month old son, whom she fell in love with. We got to talking and she gave me some samples (the essential line). I tried it and was IN LOVE. I’ve had persistent problems with dryness with occasional acne. After using this line, my skin feels like a dream with no more acne problems!
    Just got a sample of the oil today – can’t wait to try it!