The fresh ginseng sitting on a laboratory table at the Amorepacific research center in Osan, an hour outside Seoul, has the curious shape of a frilly, tentacled carrot—as if closer kin to a deep-sea creature than a root vegetable. In this tidy corner of the campus, staffed by Sulwhasoo scientists in white coats and cornflower-blue latex gloves, the medicinal plant gets pride of place. It lurks inside beakers on a WiseStir machine, the brackish liquid swirling in a counterclockwise spiral. Shriveled ginseng hangs out on drying racks, ready for an odyssey that might inform one of the brand’s products. Long before Tilda Swinton declared, “I am ginseng,” in her inaugural Sulwhasoo campaign this past spring (Oscar winner Youn Yuh Jung and pop star Rosé are also ambassadors), the Korean skin care company began a pioneering study of the ingredient, leading to a debut ginseng cream in 1966. That evolving know-how plays out with the updated First Care Activating Serum VI, shown to improve skin barrier health with help from fermented ginseng.
Scientific rigor applied to time-honored botanicals is a common thread in the season’s serums. Orveda, the biotech-driven brand led by Coty Inc. CEO Sue Y. Nabi, expands its lineup with the Omnipotent Concentrate, which taps schisandra to quiet the skin’s inflammatory activity and helps with cell regeneration. Dior Beauty, which has teamed up with longevity researchers, adds a new Prestige serum, Le Nectar Premier—the terroir of its signature rose linking back to Christian Dior’s origin story. Here is a primer on the latest, in time for the seasonal shift.
The heritage Korean beauty brand believes in continual renewal for the skin and for the company’s own formulas. The latest iteration of First Care Activating Serum VI (billed as a post-cleanse step) pairs plants like white lily and lotus with fermented ginseng—a new addition that aids barrier repair. Tilda Swinton, who recently joined as an ambassador, is a fan.
Known for its biotech-oriented approach to skin care, Orveda leans into healthy cellular function with the patent-pending (and loftily titled) Omnipotent Concentrate. Antioxidant-rich schisandra berry helps to calm the inflammatory response; the formula also supports hydration and collagen production.
Le Nectar Premier is the latest serum from the house’s Prestige line to deploy the fabled rose de Granville, hybridized with a cliff-dwelling varietal local to Christian Dior’s hometown. Here, a novel rosebud cryoextract bolsters the epidermis to cushiony effect and protects against cellular decline.