This review contains PR samples° and affiliate links* Ginseng is a wonderful ingredient with a host of anti aging benefits, but alas, it is a pricey raw material, and products containing it usually cost a pretty penny. Enter the Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water!
Korean skincare brand Beauty of Joseon was a pretty obscure, niche K-beauty brand here in the West for a long time – that is, until K-beauty blogger of the earliest hour, Snow White and the Asian Pear, ordered their gloopily delicious cream and reviewed it favourably. This was back in 2015, when Korean skincare was only just beginning to conquer the Western market, and the impact of said review for the small brand was rather incredible: the cream became available on Amazon* and its global popularity increased pretty much overnight.
By now, Beauty of Joseon has become a household name as a surprisingly affordable hanbang-style K-beauty brand. Hanbang is Korean skincare that uses traditional medicinal herb extracts in their formulas and a skincare philosophy based on ancient Korean medicine (hanbang being the Korean term for said medicine). Two very famous hanbang skincare brands are Sulwhasoo* and The History of Whoo.* K-beauty vlogger extraordinaire Odile Monod has made a couple of great videos about hanbang that I highly recommend!
Ginseng is one of the key ingredients in most hanbang skincare, which is usually aimed at more mature skin showing signs of aging. The thing about ginseng is that it is a pretty pricey raw material, which in turn means that as a general rule, hanbang and other ginseng-containing K-beauty is usually more on the luxury side of the beauty market. Well, let’s have a look at the surprisingly affordable Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water!
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water – the Basics
Ginseng has been an important part of Korean culture for centuries – I would wager a guess and say probably even millennia, but I’m not well-researched enough to 100% confirm that, to be frank. This medicinal root has a whole host of amazing benefits: taken internally, it is said to boost the immune system, improve energy levels, and even help prolong your lifespan. You often see product placements of ginseng supplements in Korean dramas, where usually one character hands a stick of red ginseng paste to a tired-looking friend or colleague. Now, apparently ginseng isn’t for everyone, and some people react negatively to its warming and energy-increasing effects. Since I am somewhat sensitive to stimulants of any kind, I personally hesitate to try out ingesting ginseng.
The benefits of ginseng for the skin are just as varied: it supposedly improves blood circulation and skin vitality, giving it a youthful lustre. Ginseng root extract is also an anti-inflammatory, potent anti-oxidant and is said to reduce puffiness, which is why ginseng is often used in anti-aging eye products. In general, ginseng skincare ranges tend to target mature skin, since its prime function is improving the firmness and texture of ageing skin. High-quality ginseng extract is also said to boost collagen production in the skin, thus plumping up fine lines.
Now, usually those ginseng skincare lines are pretty pricey, since high quality ginseng extract (usually won from red or white ginseng – with red ginseng the priciest, but also most potent variety) is a pretty expensive raw ingredient: think Sulwhasoo or The History of Woo, those premium hanbang skincare brands with their stunning packaging and 300$ creams. I dream of the day I can afford those sexy little jars, but right now I am not quite there yet, and sadly also not on their PR list, sigh. But, guess what – Beauty of Joseon has made their Ginseng Essence Water super affordable, yet still manages to cram in all sorts of ginseng goodness!
Now, to be absolutely fair and transparent, I want to mention something rather important here that I just found out, courtesy of K-Beauty and hanbang research Queen Odile Monod (truly, make sure to subscribe to her excellent Youtube channel and blog!): apparently, Beauty of Joseon was just fined by the MFDS (the “Korean FDA”) for making misleading claims regarding the quality and potency of the ginseng extract used in their Ginseng + Snail Repair Serum.
You see, only when using certified medical-grade ginseng extract (won from red or white ginseng) can skincare brands make anti-aging claims regarding their ginseng products, and apparently the ginseng types used for the Beauty of Joseon serum were not of that quality. So, just bear that in mind. This doesn’t mean their ginseng-containing products are faulty or fully ineffective, it just means that we cannot expect the same high-potency quality that we would probably get from a 200$ Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Cream or similar, and the brand isn’t allowed to make claims regarding the collagen-boosting powers of medical-grade ginseng.
Here is the full list of ingredients for the Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water:
“Panax Ginseng Root Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Propanediol, Niacinamide, 1,2-Hexanediol, Water, Hydroxyacetophenone, Glyceryl Glucoside, Xanthna Gum, Panthenol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Allantoin, Adenosine, Panax Ginseng Callus Culture Extract, Theobroma Cacao(Cocoa) Extract, Dextrin, Glucose, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Panax Ginseng Berry Extract, Lactobacillus/Panax Ginseng Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ethylhexyglycerin, Disodium EDTA.”
The Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water contains a number of ginseng-based extract, including fermented ginseng extract. Niacinamide and licorice root extract add some brightening benefits, while glycerin and hyaluronic acid provide ample hydration. The essence is free from any alcohol or added fragrance, including being free from any added essential oils.
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water – How I Got on with the Product
I received the Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water back in autumn, and basically never stopped using it! Indeed, I am already more than halfway done with my bottle, since I use it pretty much every day. I tend to layer a number of toners and watery essences, mixing and matching them however I feel like depending on my skin’s needs that day.
The Ginseng Essence Water comes in a sturdy plastic bottle, which certainly isn’t as stunning as those crazy ornate The History of Whoo containers, but still has a certain minimalist elegance. The essence has a watery texture and a deep brown-amber colour. It only has a faint smell of ginseng, which maybe is an indication that the concentration is not as high as in more expensive, luxury hanbang skincare lines. However, I still feel the benefits of this toner-essence hybrid whenever I use it, and really do love the product overall.
The watery texture has a certain silky “slip” to it, gliding onto skin easily and smoothly when I apply the essence with my hands. It doesn’t weirdly foam up like other affordable essences sometimes do (yikes to that, as it can mean they contain surfactants that should better be washed off with water!), and absorbs fast. My skin feels and looks smoother, more toned and brighter when I use the ginseng essence water.
I think this is a wonderful toner or first step essence especially for maturing skin (30+), people who are looking to get into anti aging products, and anyone who wants to test out what hanbang can do without needing to splurge on luxury skincare. As I mentioned above, the Beauty of Joseon Essence Water may not be a top notch, medical-grade anti aging product, but it is a great anti-aging toner/essence that feels light on the skin but still has strong brightening, hydrating and smoothing powers.
Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water – the Bottom Line
Despite the current, um, “controversy” regarding the Beauty of Joseon Repair Serum – which, personally, I didn’t like as much as the essence! – I still give high marks overall to the Ginseng Essence Water. I have enjoyed this watery, silky-smooth ginseng product and will happily empty my bottle to its last drop!
If you are curious about hanbang but scared of the often extreme price tag, this can be a great gateway product to get to know traditional Korean herbalism in skincare.
The Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water is currently sold out at most shops due to its exploding popularity, but you can still find it at Yesstyle* with a bit of a delivery delay for roughly 19$ for the 150ml bottle, at Stylevana* for roughly 16$, or at Skinsider UK* for around 14£ – use my code “Ulrike15” to receive an extra 15% on your Skinsider order!
Let me know in the comments: Have you added ginseng to your skincare routine already?
Take care guys, and stay safe!
°PR Sample, kindly provided by a brand or shop – I am not obligated to write this blog article, was not paid for the article, and my opinions are entirely my own.
*Affiliate Links, meaning I earn a small commission if you decide to use the link to purchase an item. This does not raise the purchase price for you, and it helps me and my blog to grow – so, thank you for supporting me in this way!!!