10 Jun 2018

Comparison Review: Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX vs. The History of Whoo Bichup Soon Hwan Essence

I am a fan of first serum or treatment essence. They are staples in my skincare routine and I always need to include at least one of them in my daily skincare steps. You can see my love for them in my reviews comparing over seven (7) first serums and 16 treatment essences! That shows how much I am in love with these skin boosters!

Among all first serums I used, two are from luxurious brands, namely Sulwhasoo and The History of Whoo. They are both premium Korean skincare products and can easily cost you over US$100. Many people who saw me posting about the products online asked me the differences between both, which is why I am writing this review to tell you guys the differences between these two. Read on to find out more about both products below:

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX (60ml) / KRW 90,000

Here comes our popular Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX! I think most people who have heard of Sulwhasoo would have heard of this serum. It is one of Sulwhasoo's all-time best sellers. People think about this first serum when they talk about Sulwhasoo. Just like what Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum means for Innisfree.

Basically, this is a pre-toner booster. You use it at the first step of your skincare routine, or second step if you are using a treatment essence too. Normally I won't use a first serum and a treatment essence together. I find it kinda expensive and unnecessary. I use a first serum is my skin feels extra dry and malnourished, and treatment essence if I want something hydrating with mild exfoliating benefits. Both products will boost the efficacy of your other skincare products.

It is made of Sulwhasoo's unique JAUM Balancing Complex™ to give you a glowing and healthier looking skin! The key here is balancing. Your skin will look naturally younger and vibrant when the oil and moisture contents in your skin is balanced. Sounds very much like the Chinese's yin and yang.

You cannot expect miracles from a skin tonic. The difference between this products and other skin boosters is kinda like drinking a coughing syrup vs. consuming herbal drinks that will soothe your lungs. The result is more on a long-term basis than short-term remedy. Over time, you'll notice that:

  • your skin is a lot smoother
  • it is silky to touch
  • your pores somehow smaller
  • there is a soft glow as if age has left your face
  • it is less prone to excessive sebum production, especially in the afternoon
  • your other skincare seems to absorb better
  • it drenches your skin's thirst deep within

The History of Whoo Bichup Soon Hwan Essence (85ml) / KRW 95,000

Just like Sulwhasoo First Serum, Soon Hwan Essence from The History of Whoo is also a pre-toner booster. You use it as the first step of your skincare routine to nourish, deeply hydrate and prep your skin. The difference being, this Soon Hwan Essence is actually less popular than its sibling the Ja Saeng Essence, whereas Sulwhasoo First Serum is actually more popular than other Sulwhasoo essences. 

The key about Soon Hwan Essence is better blood circulation. In fact, the name "soon hwan" means circulation. It is enriched with many Korean hanbang ingredients that will promote blood circulation and by doing so enhance the metabolism of your skin, giving you a dewier and younger complexion. The secret here is a technology called Gongjinbidan Complex, made of premium hanbang ingredients like deer antler, wild thyme, angelica gigas and so on. It also carries a little bit of the haeulhwan formula, which is the key ingredient in his RM 2,000-3,000 anti-aging skincare range. All these fancy sounding formulas are the reason why this is marketized as an effective anti-aging product.

Whoo said you can use this instead of toner. It is supposed to be richer and thicker than toner, and will leave behind an glowing, “invisible” layer on your skin. 


This is similar, but not exactly a dupe for Sulwhasoo First Serum. I do agree with some of its claims, like dewier skin but I find it more of an booster than toner. The results I have from using 4 bottles of the miniatures (15ml x 4) are:

  • nourished and more hydrated skin; non-sticky
  • skin looks more genki and less dull
  • give my skin a soft glow when apply a little more than usual


Now, onto the actual comparison. As you can see, Sulwhasoo comes in an amber liquid that is super lightweight and watery whereas Whoo is a light orange liquid that is slightly thicker and richer in consistency with little white capsules suspended.

Sulwhasoo spreads better and feels more watery on the skin whereas Whoo feels like moisturizing toner with thicker consistency.

Sulwhasoo actually absorbs better like water whereas Whoo takes some time to fully absorb the product.

It is quite obvious that I prefer Sulwhasoo over Whoo for its lighter consistency. Sulwhasoo is a real pre-toner booster whereas Whoo attempts to replace toner with its Soon Hwan Essence. As such, Sulwhasoo will work better for those with dehydrated, normal-to-oily skin whereas Whoo will work best for individuals with drier skin.

Results-wise, I also see a better results with Sulwhasoo compared to Whoo.

Both products are more or less similar in term of their pricing. Although Sulwhasoo costs KRW 90,000 for only 60ml, but you will get a lot of free gifts and discounts buying it from Korea and in great volume. Whoo gives out less free gifts but the price per volume is actually lower too.


There is a reason why I ended up buying the full size product of Sulwhasoo First Serum but not Whoo. I did not find it impressive despite finish using like 60ml of it. Having said that, check Sulwhasoo out if you prefer a lightweight first serum with skin balancing, long-term anti-aging properties. Whoo, on the other hand, will work best for those with poor blood circulation, dull and drier skin.

That's all for my review today. See you guys soon!

Extended Reading:

Comparison Review of 7 First Serum / Skin Booster: Sulwhasoo, Hanyul, Innisfree, Belif, Goodal and Mamonde

Review: The History of Whoo Bichup Royal Anti Aging Kit

Overall impression: ★★★★☆ (Sulwhasoo) | ★★★☆ (Whoo)
You can get this from: Testerkorea | Sulwhasoo Malaysia | Whoo Malaysia
[Disclaimer] Products are purchased with my own money. All copyright of contents and images in this article is strictly mine.

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