The popularity of Korean skin care has put the spotlight on hanbang or traditional Korean medicine, which uses special blends of herbal and fermented ingredients, including ginseng. Let me introduce you to the I’m from Ginseng Serum.
Panax ginseng is the star ingredient in I’m from’s Ginseng Serum, which contains 7.98% concentrated extract of red ginseng grown for six years in the Geumsan county of South Korea. Red ginseng is fresh ginseng that has been peeled, heated to steaming, and then dried. The serum also contains red ginseng water as well as betaine, glycerin, and herbal extracts such as Camellia sinensis leaf, licorice root, peony root, and angelica root, to name a few.
Ginsenosides are a form of chemical compounds called saponins that are proven by early studies to have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many ginseng-based products emphasize its anti-aging benefits in minimizing wrinkles and restoring elasticity and firmness, which are what this serum promises to deliver. I’m fortunate at my age that I don’t seem to have any visible wrinkles yet. Still, as they say, prevention is better than cure.
Retailing for US$23.90, the 30ml bottle of serum has a simple dropper cap design and label. I immediately noticed that the glass bottle is clear instead of tinted. This allows me to see the real color of the product, which is a warm golden brown similar to brown sugar. It’s also scented with an earthy-sweet fragrance, which I find rather strong and cloying. I have no idea what real ginseng actually smells like, but if you’re not a fan of heavy odors that take a while to dissipate, you may want to skip this.
I patch-tested the syrupy serum for three days while trying to decide how often I should use it. I applied it once during the day, which resulted in a minor breakout on my left cheek. At the time, it was still quite hot and humid here in Hong Kong, so I attributed the breakout to the weather and the serum’s rather heavy texture. I didn’t want a repeat so I opted to use the serum twice a week at night instead of during the day. A tiny drop on each of my four fingertips was enough to cover all the quadrants of my face. Even with such a small amount, I could feel a hint of warmth whenever I spread it on my skin. Ginseng is used in many tonics and beverages, in the belief that it boosts vitality.
The serum before and after application. Don’t worry – it dries clearly.
For the first two weeks, I enjoyed waking up to a less oily face. But on the fourth week, a few pimples appeared on my cheeks and chin. Since the serum is the only new product in my routine, I can only conclude that there was some ingredient in it that my skin didn’t like.
After a month of use, I found the I’m from Ginseng Serum to be a hit-and-miss for me. I wanted to see if ginseng-based products are effective at anti-aging but this product just ticked all the wrong boxes for me: heavy and artificial fragrance, thick texture, and my skin reacting badly to it. But I’m willing to give it another chance, especially now that the weather is cooler and less humid.
If you have sensitive or oil-prone skin like mine, please patch test this product thoroughly before using. But if your skin is normal and resilient, and if you don’t mind the strong scent, the Ginseng Serum may be worth your time and money.