11 Jun 2017

Comparison Review: Sulwhasoo Concentrating Ginseng Renewing Cream vs. EX vs. EX Light

Sulwhasoo is like the Empress of all cosmetics. Of course, we have some high-end ones like The History of Whoo, SK-II, and so on, but Sulwhasoo is by far one of the most popular and highly raved in term of packaging, ingredients’ quality and efficacy. One of my favourite blogger Fiddy Snails swear by Sulwhasoo products. Unfortunately, Sulwhasoo is too expensive for normal middle glass girls like myself. A Sulwhasoo toner costs RM 200, its mask around that range, and its ginseng cream nearly RM 800. If you compare that to the starting salary for a fresh grad with a Bachelor’s Degree, which is about RM 2,200, you’ll know what I mean by expensive.

Well, it is not my intention to grumble about our purchasing power, but I just want to point out the fact that Sulwhasoo is highly unaffordable in Malaysia, which is why you see I use only the miniatures I received from Sulwhasoo road show.

I went to this road show by Sulwhasoo at Pavilion KL a few months ago. We were asked to take a tour through Sulwhasoo’s history of ginseng products manufacturing, and were gifted two miniatures of Sulwhasoo’s premium skincare line – the Concentrated Ginseng Cream EX and EX Light at the end of the tour. I think Sulwhasoo organized the road show to promote its newly launched Ginseng Cream EX Light. There are a lot of people queuing up for the tour, and some got their makeup done by artists hired by Sulwhasoo. There are also customers here and there. Given how unaffordable Sulwhasoo is, you will amazed by their crowd and popularity.

Enough with the intro, let’s look at the Ginseng Cream EX and EX Light, and how it differs from its older version here.

Some disclosure here. I have been using the Ginseng Cream, Ginseng Cream EX, and EX Light for several months. I don’t use them every day since my skin may not need something very moisturizing every night, but I will always observe the changes in my skin whenever I use this I sometimes used it with Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water, sometimes with other products. It is usually used as the last step of my skincare routine. Applying anything more on top would be hardly possible as these ginseng creams are rich enough on their own. I have used up 2 Ginseng Cream (both purchased from Hermo), Ginseng Cream EX and EX Light (all obtained from the road show). Since my bf also been on the tour, he generously gave his to mine. After all, he was only there to accompany me and he doesn’t really like rich cream.

A little bit of background research. Sulwhasoo claims that it uses a patented bio-conversion technology in its ginseng processing. It does so because ginseng isn’t as efficacious as when consumed when it is applied topically. Hence, Sulwhasoo develops a unique bio-conversion technology to turn the skin-benefiting saponin component found in ginseng into efficacious stuff that can be absorbed into the skin. Sulwhasoo products’ main target is anti-aging, but you can also expect toning and nourishing benefits from them.

Let’s look at the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX

Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Water, Glycerin, Squalane, Butylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Trehalose, Glyceryl Stearate, Octyldodecyl Myristate, Phytosteryl Isostearyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Peg-40 Stearate, Phytosteryl/Behenyl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Honey, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins (Enzyme- Treated Red Ginseng Saponins), Panax Ginseng Flower Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Retinol, Beta-Glucan, Caffeic Acid, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Leaf Extract, Polyquaternium-51, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glyceryl Linolenate, Glyceryl Linoleate, Glyceryl Arachidonate, Dextrin, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Lauryl Peg/Ppg-18/18 Methicone, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Methoxy Peg-114/Polyepsilon Caprolactone, Cyclodextrin, Salicylic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Sodium Methyl Stearoyl Taurate, Sodium Polyaspartate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Stearic Acid, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Acetyl Glucosamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Alcohol, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Linoleate, Pantethine, Palmitic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Propanediol, Propylene Glycol, Peg-100 Stearate, Peg-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Phytosphingosine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides Citrate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hexyl Laurate, Jojoba Esters, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance

Ingredients Analysis for EX

You will feel much justified to pay RM 800 for a 60ml cream if you see the ingredients list. Most of them are known antioxidants with also many other skincare benefits like revitalizing, moisturizing, nourishing, brightening, and soothing. Ginseng is listed before water, so you know that there is a hefty amount of ginseng here. Nourishing ingredients like squalane, meadowfoam seed oil, beta glucan, mango seed butter, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, and so on are added to give you that creamy yet highly blendable texture. You will feel that the cream is refined enough to be fully absorbed by your skin yet not lightweight enough to disappear completely. There will still be a thin layer of moisture wrap around the skin, as if you have applied a thin layer of sleeping mask. I would say skip your sleeping mask whenever you are applying this.

Apart from ginseng, we also have licorice root extract, peony extract, lotus, lily, honey, saponin, ginseng flower extract etc. antioxidants-rich botanical ingredients. Among which, licorice root extract is known for assimilating the benefits of niacinamide as it can improve the elasticity of the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation. Peony, lotus, and lily are also present in many anti-aging and brightening products to offer ample skin protection and brightening benefits.

Now, let’s talk about ginseng, the key ingredient here. According to many scientific research, panax ginseng (often referred to as the “true ginseng” among the ginseng family) root extract possesses skin brightening (as in depigmentation), anti-aging (anti-oxidizing) and nourishing effects. Topical application of panax ginseng root extract can inhibit melanogenesis which directly decreases the production of melanin synthesis of the skin.

Panax ginseng root extract can also induce collagen synthesis and improve the elasticity of the skin. Although it does not un-age the skin like what retinol can do (and all the side-effects and precautionary steps), but it can achieve a younger-looking skin by firming up and plumping up the skin. Another research also found that enzyme-treated ginseng extract (fermented I suppose) can inhibit the formation of UVB-induced formation of wrinkles and dryness. In other words, ginseng not only can increase collagen synthesis, but can also reduce the formation of wrinkles and skin dryness due to sun exposure (photodamages), making it one of the most exciting naturally-derived anti-aging ingredient.

In addition, ginseng root extract also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which is demonstrated in this study. This research particularly studies to therapeutic effects of topical application saponin component of ginseng on the skin. This study is done on mice but the results are encouraging. Topical application of saponin demonstrates excellent anti-inflammatory and skin recovery effects.

Now let’s move over to the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX Light.

Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Butylene Glycol, Water, Glycerin, Squalane, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Arachidyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Behenyl Alcohol, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/Root Extract, Lilium Candidum Bulb Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Honey, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins (Enzyme- Treated Red Ginseng Saponins), Panax Ginseng Flower Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Flower Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Phytosphingosine, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Methoxy Peg- 114/Polyepsilon Caprolactone, Dextrin, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Sodium Methyl Stearoyl Taurate, Sodium Polyaspartate, Arachidyl Glucoside, Triethylhexanoin, Polysorbate 20, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Edta, Fragrance

For me, the only difference between the two is mostly just the consistency. But I want to take a step further to examine whether or not there is a significant reduction in term of quality ingredients used in the lighter version of the ginseng cream. The case with the lighter version of a product is normally a significant reduction in skin benefiting ingredients, such as the case in Hanyul Rice Essential Softener and Balancing Softener, so I want to make sure that my readers are aware if there is a big chunk in the EX Light.

Main ingredient remains panax ginseng root extract, water, butylene glycol, glycerin, squalane, but surprisingly water is listed after the butylene glycol, and that cyclopentasiloxane, a slip agent normally added to enhance product penetration has a significant reduction in its shared portion here.

In term of skin-benefiting extracts, the EX Light retains some really good ones like licorice root extract, peony flower root extract, lotus extract, sealwort rhizome extract, lily extract, rehmannia root extract, honey, enzyme-treated red ginseng saponins, panax ginseng flower extract, beefsteak plant extract. It doesn’t carry the white meadowfoam oil originally present in the EX, and replaces it with safflower oil.

White meadowfoam oil is a very nourishing and emollient-rich oil that targets dry, sensitive and damaged skin. It carries vast anti-aging benefits and can diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. It also provides long-lasting moisturizing and protection for vulnerable and flaky skin, making it a great ingredient in a moisturizing cream. Safflower seed oil is nevertheless milder. It is a skin lubricant for dull and dry skin surface and can soften and smoothen skin texture. However, it has other skin benefits such as melanin synthesis inhibiting, skin brightening and sebum controlling so it is more suitable for combination to normal skin.

Other ingredients as mentioned such as licorice root extract, sealwort, lily, rehmannia, beefsteak leaf and so on are mainly Asian herbs with substantial research supporting its skincare benefits. Sealwort root extract can balance out the skin, nourish “yin” and provide decent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing benefits for the skin. All rehmannia, beefsteak plant and licorice root extract are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits. And since these are herbs, they possess the medical benefits of many herbal ingredients, and I find it better-off having these components absorbed by the skin and going into my blood stream. At least, they are much better than some potentially hormone-disrupting substances or synthetic chemicals, right?

The EX Light also removes many nourishing and moisturizing ingredients such as carnauba wax, soybean oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, sunflower seed oil, jojoba that were present in the EX.

In short, I think the EX Light is as good as the EX in term of skin-benefiting ingredients. It may look shorter and “lighter”, but many of those are nourishing ingredients that oilier or less-drier skin may not need.


The EX shares a lot of similarities with the original version. Both are runny oil cream (if you get the idea) that spreads beautifully over the skin. They may look runny but actually feel really rich when you smooth it across your skin. It gets absorbed easily and sinks in seamlessly, leaving a moist and tacky finish. Normally, I only apply this at night right before I sleep. You don’t need a sleeping mask after this. I don’t have a lot of issues with its consistency, but I find the scent rather weird. It smells floral and herbal with a very strong underlying ginseng scent. I don’t know, all these add up to something quite funky and unpleasant.

The EX Light is much better. It feels like a lightweight buttery cream. It is less runny, but also less rich and sticky when applied. I think this is due to the reduction in cyclopentasiloxane in the formulation. But I still find it much more cosmetically-appealing to use than the EX, and it has a much more pleasant floral and mild ginseng scent. I just like it a lot better than the EX.


Given their prices, has these done wonder to my skin? Yes and no. I have pretty well-maintained skin, with only freckles and sun damages. These ginseng creams, despite its claimed brightening benefits, do not reduce those stubborn hyperpigmentation on my skin. But that may not be the cream, it may just be the fact that I don’t use these often enough to see any long-term benefits. And I don’t see the need of using them every night either. However, it is not fair to say that they are obsolete. The ginseng cream feels really nourishing and can smooth and soothe my skin almost instantly. It is very helpful when my skin is feeling dry and sensitive. In addition, I always wake up looking dewy and healthy in the mirror whenever I am using this the night before. And since it uses quality ingredients, the long-term skincare implications of these herbal ingredients may be more far-reaching than you see in the next few days, or few weeks.


Having said all these, what is my final verdict?

Personally, I like the EX Light a lot better so if I were to repurchase, it will be the EX Light. But very dry and mature skin should definitely go for the EX.

But spending RM 800 on a cream definitely needs a lot of determination. If you really like these ginseng creams, but find it expensive, I would suggest that you get their special promotional set with the First Care Activating Serum EX and a smaller version of the Ginseng Cream. Or you can also buy the cream, and use it occasionally as and when needed for an extended 12 months period. This cream is good for use 12 months after opening so you can do that to save your wallet. Alternatively, you can also get these miniatures online from second-hand sellers who got this as a free gift and want to sell it. Some Korean outlets like Testerkorea, RoseRoseShop and Sweet Corea are selling miniatures so you can get from those as well. Even Hermo Malaysia sometimes carries these miniatures too!

As for me, I am doing well with my other products so I don’t find these ginseng cream necessary. But my mom who switched to Sulwhasoo after some mistreatment by a Belif Consultant (a new staff who doesn’t think she can afford Belif when she hovers over the products) somehow fell in love with the ginseng! She is now switching over to Sulwhasoo Cleansing Foam and Oil, and is using a Ginseng Cream EX Light miniature the Sulwhasoo Consultant gave her. I think she is gonna purchase the Ginseng Cream EX Light once she has done testing the Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule her friend gave her. She will still use the Belif Aqua Bomb and Peat Miracle Serum Concentrate but she now calls herself a Sulwhasoo fan lols.

If you have younger skin, want to try Sulwhasoo and cannot afford these premium ginseng cream, I would suggest that you go for the Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask. If you have oilier skin, and want to try out the same, then Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX is a great option.

I think these are so far my detailed and extended comments on these Sulwhasoo Ginseng goodies. I will update more in the future after I am done testing my other Sulwhasoo ginseng products and perhaps let you guys know the feedback of my mom who has more mature skin on these.

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream
packaging: ★★★★★
scent: ★★
texture: ★★
ingredients: ★★★★★
performance - moisturizing: ★★★★
performance - anti-aging: ★★★★☆
general impression: ★★★★

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX
packaging: ★★★★★
scent: ★★
texture: ★★
ingredients: ★★★★★
performance - moisturizing: ★★★★☆
performance - anti-aging: ★★★★☆
general impression: ★★★★ 

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX Light
packaging: ★★★★★
scent: ★★★★
texture: ★★★☆
ingredients: ★★★★★
performance - moisturizing: ★★★★☆
performance - anti-aging: ★★★★☆
general impression: ★★★★☆

You can get this from: Sulwhasoo Malaysia | Hermo
[Disclaimer] This is NOT a sponsored review. Products are purchased with my own money. All copy right of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.
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