Why You Need Ginseng In Your Skincare Routine & The Best Korean Products To Try

ginseng benefits for skin korean hanbang skincare products

Korean herbal ingredients that have played an important role in traditional Asian medicine since ancient times are being used more and more in Korean skincare products. One of these ingredients is ginseng – also known as ‘the root of immortality’ for it’s powerful anti-aging properties.

Ginseng has traditionally been consumed orally, however research has found that it also has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects on the skin when applied topically due to the many beneficial active constituents it contains.

In particular, scientific research has found that ginseng provides powerful anti-aging benefits to the skin by:

  1. Improving the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles (by suppression of collagen degradation) – this includes eye wrinkles
  2. Protecting against UV radiation-induced skin damage (known as photo-aging)
  3. Increasing hyaluronic acid generation (helping to keep skin hydrated and plump)

In addition, scientific studies have found that ginseng may also provide benefits for treating acne and fading hyperpigmentation.

What Is Hanbang?

Before I start diving into the benefits that ginseng has for your skin, I thought I need to explain what the Korean word hanbang (한방) means – since hanbang ingredients are a growing trend in Korean skincare.

Hanbang is the traditional herbal medicine of Korea that has been used for centuries to treat illnesses and keep the body and mind healthy. It was initially influenced by Chinese medicine, however over the centuries, Korean traditional medicine has developed on its own – featuring unique ingredients and preparation methods (such as a heavy emphasis on fermentation).

traditional korean herbal medicine hanbang ingredients hanbang skincare
Traditional Korean hanbang (한방) ingredients

Hanbang is still a very important part of Korean culture today – many people still visit traditional Korean doctors, regularly drink hanbang tea and visit hanbang-style spas.

Hanbang In Korean Skincare

Hanbang is also hugely popular in Korean skincare, since it’s been found that many hanbang ingredients also have benefits for our skin (in particular, anti-aging benefits).

The Cheongidan line is just one of many high end hanbang skincare lines available from the brand The History of Whoo

This is because hanbang ingredients are high in polyphenols (plant-derived compounds with strong antioxidant and prooxidant effects) that keep the skin looking young and healthy (you can read about the biological effects of polyphenols here if you’re a biochemistry nerd like me).

Hanbang Skincare Brands

There are entire brands devoted to incorporating hanbang ingredients and preparation methods into their skincare products.

Of course, hanbang skincare brands are better known and more widely used in Korea, but as I’ve mentioned, 2019 seems to be the year that hanbang is taking off in the West too.

Here’s a list of some Korean skincare brands considered hanbang (in alphabetical order):

  • Beauty Of Joseon
  • Donginbi
  • Hanyul
  • History of Whoo
  • Illi
  • Pyunkang Yul
  • Sooryehan
  • Sulwhasoo
  • Su:m37
korean hanbang skincare brands donginbi sulwhasoo history of whoo

Additionally, mainstream Korean skincare brands are also starting to develop hanbang skincare lines, notably the following:

  • Missha – Cho Gong Jin line
  • Missha – Geum Seul line

What Makes A Skincare Product Hanbang?

Hanbang skincare products contain traditional Korean herbal and floral ingredients (such as ginseng) that are usually of the highest quality and prepared using traditional hanbang methods (including fermentation). This is why you will notice that hanbang skincare products tend to be on the pricier side, compared to mainstream products.

Products will also often contain specific blends of hanbang ingredients. These combinations are often traditionally-inspired and are said to maximize the effect of each ingredient and therefore benefit the skin more.

Many hanbang skincare products are sold in containers that are the shape of the traditional Korean earthenware jars, called Onngi, and I’ve also noticed that hanbang skincare products often feature either gold or beautiful dark red, blue or purple colors in their packaging.

korean hanbang skincare the history of whoo ginseng
Oh my, how beautiful is this History of Whoo Jinyulhyang Jinyul Eye Cream with it’s royal red and gold?

I actually really like how beautiful these skincare products look and I can imagine that they would almost look like little treasures on my dressing table.

korean hanbang skincare products beauty of joseon dynasty cream ginseng
The Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream looks like something right out of an ancient era, in its Onngi-like jar.

Another characteristic of hanbang skincare products that sets them apart from other Korean skincare products is their distinctive herbal scents. I have heard that some people dislike the strong herbal scent of hanbang products, but I actually really like this smell and prefer it to any Western perfume (or skincare products that have a synthetic perfume or fragrance added to them). I really do love how earthy hanbang ingredients smell.

What Is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant with fleshy roots, and belongs to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae.

The word ginseng stems from the Chinese word rénshēn (Rén means person, while shēn means plant root). Interestingly too, the genus name Panax means “all-healing” in Greek (it was so named because because Carl Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine).

ginseng roots hanbang korean skincare products benefits of ginseng for skin
Harvested ginseng roots.

It’s been used in traditional medicine in eastern Asia for over 2000 years, where it is taken orally (mostly via tea and tinctures) to treat various diseases. It has also been used in topical applications to heal wounds and treat skin inflammation.

Today, ginseng is one of the most popular hanbang ingredients used in Korean skincare products. This is all thanks to the Korean skincare brand Sulwhasoo, which set the trend of including hanbang ingredients such as ginseng in skincare products in the 1960’s.

White Ginseng Vs. Red Ginseng

The ginseng used in traditional Korean medicine and Korean skincare products is 4-6 years of age (following cultivation) and can be divided into two types: white ginseng and red ginseng.

White ginseng is 4-6 year old ginseng root that has been peeled and dried without heating. The moisture content of white ginseng is typically below 12%.

Red ginseng on the other hand is 6 year old ginseng root that has been steamed first at 98-100 degrees Celsius for 2-3 hours and then dried (giving it a red color). The moisture content of red ginseng is typically less than 15%.

Both white and red ginseng have been shown to have immuno-modulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-atopic activities (see more about this in the section below). However, red ginseng has been found to have more potent pharmacological properties due to the chemical changes that occur during the steaming process (antioxidant-like substances are increased and catabolic enzymes are inactivated).

In other words, red ginseng is preferred over white ginseng since it appears to be more effective.

The Active Constituents Of Ginseng

So what actually makes ginseng such a powerful herb, leading to it’s widespread use in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine, and now, it’s use in skincare products too?

About 200 compounds have been isolated from the Korean species of ginseng (named Panax ginseng), including many biologically active ingredients including ginsenosides, polysaccharides, phytosterols, peptides, polyacetylenes, fatty acids, and polyacetylenic alcohols.

Out of these compounds, ginsenosides (steroid-like saponins) are believed to be the major biologically active components of ginseng (and the most widely studied). More than 100 ginsenosides are known to exist and a total of 38 ginsenosides have been isolated from Panax ginseng. Out of these, 3 are unique to red ginseng.

I would love to go into further detail about ginsenosides and their pharmacological effects, but the biochemistry would be way too advanced (and perhaps boring) for this article. Just know that these are most likely the compounds which are responsible for many of the benefits that ginseng has.

If you are interested to learn more about ginsenosides, I highly recommend that you read this scientific review here.

Although not as thoroughly researched, studies have shown that other major bioactive constituents of Panax ginseng (namely polysaccharides and phenolic compounds) have strong antioxidant effects.

The Benefits Of Ginseng For Your Skin

As discussed above, the active constituents of ginseng (in particular – ginsenosides) and their pharmacological effects on the body are well studied and research is also beginning to show that ginseng may have many benefits for our skin too – in particular – anti-aging benefits.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Ginseng

Several factors are involved in the aging of skin (such as genetics, environmental stress, hormonal alterations and metabolism). As we all know (and fear), as we age our skin becomes thin, dry and loses its elasticity and structural regularity (what we notice as wrinkles and sagging skin).

When researching for other articles on this website, I usually might find a handful of studies about a particular ingredient and it’s affects on the skin. However, in the case of ginseng (and the active constituents known as ginsenosides), there are what seems like endless studies. So many, that I don’t know where to start).

These studies have shown over and over again that the ginsenosides present in Panax ginseng are able to prevent the aging of skin – mainly by reducing wrinkles and preventing UV radiation-induced skin damage (also known as photo-aging).

The biochemical pathways by which ginsenosides achieve wrinkle reduction this are not yet fully understood. It appears that different ginsenosides may play different roles in the anti-aging process, including the suppression of collagen destruction (as opposed to increasing collagen production) and the up-regulation of hyaluronic acid generation.

benefits of ginseng for skin anti aging effects of ginseng korean hanbang skincare products

If you’d like to go down the rabbit hole of research focusing on the anti-aging effects of ginsenosides, then two good studies to start with are this one and this one. If you’re not as obsessed with biochemistry as I am, then all you need to know is that ginseng is an effective skincare ingredient for preventing skin aging – mainly by protecting the skin against UVB-induced damage (wrinkle formation and reduction in skin elasticity).

The Anti-Acne Properties Of Ginseng

Although most of the research surrounding ginseng is focused on the herb’s anti-aging benefits – there is some research emerging that it may also be beneficial for treating acne.

In particular, research published just this year has found that red ginseng shows the same or even better antimicrobial activity against acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) than benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid (you can read the study here). The study found that the compounds panaxynol and panaxydol are the active constituents of red ginseng responsible for its antimicrobial activity.

This recent finding of red ginseng’s anti-acne properties means that it may be the ideal skincare ingredient for people wishing to address skin aging and acne at the same time.

I have acne-prone skin and my skin is starting to show signs of aging (it’s my fault because I never wore sunscreen until now). Unfortunately though, lots of skincare products tend to break me out, making it hard to address my anti-aging skin concerns – so I’m really stuck between a rock and a hard place. But ginseng just might be my answer!

Ginseng May Be Beneficial In The Treatment Of Hyperpigmentation

One of my personal skin concerns is hyperpigmentation – thanks to many, many days spent in the Australian sun without a hat or sunscreen (resulting in sun spots), and being pregnant with my son (resulting in melasma).

I therefore write a lot about how to fade hyperpigmentation on this website (check out my main article on how to treat hyperpigmentation and my article on how to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). It’s no surprise then, that I had to find out if ginseng is an effective ingredient for fading hyperpigmentation.

how to fade hyperpigmentation korean skincare melasma sun spots pih
I was so hesitant to include a photo of my sun-damaged skin, but this is why I’m so motivated to write so much about fading hyperpigmentation on this website!

Luckily, I found a few recent studies that indicate that ginseng is in fact effective at treating hyperpigmentation, with one study in particular showing that red ginseng reduced the appearance of melasma in 91% of patients when administered orally over 24 weeks (you can read the study here).

There are many studies which have looked into how ginseng prevents hyperpigmentation. So far, the research shows that more than one constituent of ginseng prevents melanin production. For example, it has been determined that various compounds found in ginseng (including phenol compounds, ginsenosides and cinnamic acid) inhibit tyrosinase activity (the enzyme involved in melanin production) via many different molecular pathways.

There is also evidence that the ginsenosides found in red ginseng prevent melanin production through their anti-inflammatory activities on melanocyte (melanin-producing cell) physiology, however the biochemistry of this is way beyond the scope of this article.

Interestingly, it appears that the leaves and berries of the ginseng plant also have powerful inhibitory effects against melanin production. One study in particular (read it here), found that the leaves of Panax ginseng contain a compound called p-coumaric which was found to inhibit tyrosinase to a greater extent than kojic acid and arbutin.

Although that might all sound really confusing and complicated, the take home message is that lots and lots of research is showing that ginseng may be a very effective ingredient at preventing hyperpigmentation due to the many biologically active compounds it contains.

The Best Korean Ginseng Skincare Products

Now that you know what ginseng is and the amazing benefits it can provide for your skin, I bet you’re excited to try ginseng for yourself. So, I’ve found some amazing Korean skincare products containing ginseng. Just scroll down below and I’m sure you’ll find something for your skin.

1. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream

I mentioned above that Sulwhasoo is the brand that started incorporating ginseng into their skincare products. This brand is therefore a favorite choice for many people wanting to incorporate some hanbang into their skincare routine.

This is a great anti-aging eye cream if you’re looking for something very powerful. It contains a high concentration of hydroponically grown red ginseng (the leaf, root and stem).

Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream  best korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
The Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream, which contains ginseng, caffeine, squalane, licorice root, honey, and cocoa extract

It also contains a bunch of other beneficial hanbang herbal ingredients, as well as the following:

  • caffeine (a great ingredient for minimizing dark circles under the eyes, which I wrote about in this article)
  • squalane (a powerful hydrating and soothing ingredient)
  • licorice root extract (well known for its ability to fade hyperpigmentation)
  • honey
  • cocoa extract (a potent anti-inflammatory for the skin, with strong protective, soothing and skin-restoration properties)

This eye cream is sure to make the skin around your eyes look younger as it improves wrinkles, sagging skin and skin dryness. It also protects the skin around your eyes from damage (such as UV damage), making it a somewhat double anti-aging eye cream.

The Sulwhasoo website actually gives the results of a study where 22 women (aged 42-55 years old) used this eye cream. These are the results that were seen after using the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream for a period of about 7 weeks:

  • A 24% improvement of wrinkles under the eyes
  • A 20% improvement of wrinkles on the tail of the eyes
  • A 19% improvement of skin resilience around the eyes
  • A 38% improvement of skin texture under the eyes
  • A 31% improvement of skin texture on the eyelids (yes, this cream can be used on eyelids too)

I loved reading the reviews for this eye cream. Even though it is quite pricey (compared to some other Korean eye creams), you seem to get what you pay for – meaning that the results people see seem to be nothing less than amazing.

If you’d like to try this miracle-working eye cream, I found the cheapest prices on the Jolse website (which I use frequently to buy my Korean skincare products) and Amazon. Of course, you can also buy it direct from the Sulwhasoo website here. If you want to just try this eye cream first without spending so much money, you can buy sample sachets on Amazon too.

2. Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask

Why only use ginseng on your eye area when your whole face can benefit from this hanbang ingredient? You’re in luck because Sulwhasoo also have a ginseng overnight treatment mask available.

This mask is applied in the final step of your evening skincare routine (and washed off in the morning) – so all the powerful ingredients including ginseng do their work while you’re sleeping and you get to wake up with radiant looking skin.

Again, this Sulwhasoo skincare product contains many other hanbang ingredients, as well as:

  • Squalane
  • Walnut seed extract (an ingredient which has the ability to strengthen the skin’s barrier)
  • Honey
  • Cacao extract
  • Licorice root extract
Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask best korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
The Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask which contains ginseng, squalane, walnut seed extract, honey, cacao extract and licorice root extract.

This vitalizing cream has a very smooth texture, making it easy to spread onto your skin. The reviews I read talk about just how moisturizing this cream is and how amazingly smooth it made people’s skin feel in the morning. There are also lots of positive mentions about the wonderful hanbang scent that this cream has (which is the result of the natural hanbang ingredients and not fragrance).

You can purchase this overnight mask directly from the Sulwhasoo website, Jolse or Amazon. Just like with the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream, you can also buy sample-sized sachets on Amazon!

3. The History of Whoo Cheongidan Wild Ginseng Facial Oil

The History of Whoo is a premium Korean skincare brand focused on re-interpreting the traditional beauty formulas used by empresses from the Eastern Royal Courts using modern skincare science technology.

The brand’s goal is to make skincare and beauty products fit for a queen – and they really do look like something straight from an empress’ dressing table!

The History of Whoo Cheongidan Wild Ginseng Facial Oil korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng

The History of Whoo Cheongidan Wild Ginseng Facial Oil. This brand’s skincare products really do look so beautiful!

The Cheongidan line from The History of Whoo is made up of the brand’s finest skincare products – all containing pearl-shaped beads of wild Ginseng rootlets as well as deer antler powder. This line of anti-aging products is inspired by Empress Cixi’s beauty secrets .

*NOTE: There is no harm done to deer while harvesting the antler for any of the products that contain deer antler powder that I mention in this post.

the history of whoo cheongidan line korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng korean high end skincare
My words cannot describe how beautiful I think this skincare range from The History of Whoo looks and how much I want it in my life to save me from my years of sunscreen neglect.

The Cheongidan Wild Ginseng Facial Oil is a premium Eastern herbal facial oil containing 54% ginseng extract (from organic wild ginseng) and deer antler powder. It’s premium formulation is inspired by Empress Cixi’s beauty secrets (which comprises a specific formulation of 26 hanbang ingredients).

This lightweight oil isn’t applied the same way as you would apply other facial oils. Instead of applying it after serums and ampoules to lock in everything, it is to be applied after the Cheongidan Rejuvenating Balancer (comparable to a balancing toner) to lock in hydration and enhance the spread of the gold concentrate.

If you have very dull or dry skin, you will love this facial oil as it is sure to make even the driest skin glow. This is because this oil is formulated to protect the skin from the 6 elements of the environment – wind, sun, humidity, heat, dryness, and coldness – in any season.

Also, The History of Whoo states on their website, that even people with oily skin can benefit greatly from using this facial oil (they only need to use a smaller quantity on their skin).

The History of Whoo is still much more popular in Korea (and in other parts of Asia such as Singapore), although I have seen people from parts of the Western world become increasingly interested in this high end brand.

If you’d love to give this beautiful ginseng facial oil a try, I found that it’s available from Jolse’s online shop here.

4. The History of Whoo Bichup Ja Saeng Essence

The Bichup line from The History of Whoo is actually their signature line – with these products providing one-stop answers to all kinds of skin concerns. I found out that the products from this line can be combined with any products from the brand’s other lines.

The Bichup Ja Saeng Essence (also known as the Self Generating Anti-Aging Essence) combines three secret royal court beauty formulas (Gongjin bidan, Gyeong ok bidan, and cheongsim bidan).

Of course, this essence contains ginseng, although I couldn’t find any information about the concentration. I’ve read reviews about how lovely this essence smells and I did find that it contains cinammon for fragrance.

The History of Whoo Bichup Ja Saeng Essence korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng

The History of Whoo Bichup Ja Saeng Essence contains 3 secret royal court beauty formulas – and it smells like cinammon.

This essence hydrates even the driest skin – giving it a healthy glow, while improving the elasticity of the skin and helping to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

I found that Jolse and Yesstyle stock this premium essence.

5. Missha Geum Sul Overnight Cream

As I’ve mentioned already, Missha is a mainstream Korean skincare brand that features two hanbang skincare lines: the Cho Gong Jin line and the Geum Sul line. In terms of quality and affordability, I think that Missha sits in between high end brands (such as The History of Whoo and Sulwhasoo) and the more affordable mainstream brands (such as COSRX, Innisfree, Etude House and Klairs).

I also think that Missha products (especially their hanbang lines) are aimed at women in their late 20’s and 30’s.

I really like the Geum Sul line in particular. The products all contain traditional hanbang ingredients and the packaging is absolutely beautiful – in a traditional oriental style with the signature Geum Sul flower.

Missha Geum Sul Overnight Cream korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
The Missha Geum Sul Overnight Cream, which contains ginseng, Reishi mushroom extract and deer antler.

One of the most-loved product from the Missha Geum Sul line is the Overnight Cream. This is a premium multi-functional night cream packed full of traditional herbal ingredients (including ginseng, Reishi mushroom extract and deer antler). And to top it off, this cream also contains pure gold.

The brand Missha promises that their overnight cream:

  • Provides intense moisture and nourishment (making it perfect for dry skin, especially during the winter months)
  • Brightens the skin
  • Firms the skin and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles

The jar is quite a generous size and I think it would last anyone quite a long time. The cream is nice and thick and is intended to be a night mask, however I think it could even be applied during the day (in a light layer) in very dry and cold weather. It also has a pleasant ginseng scent, which isn’t overpowering.

The Missha Geum Sul Overnight Cream is available at Yesstyle and Jolse.

6. Missha Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream

This beautiful eye cream is by far the most popular product from the Missha Geum Sul line, and is perfect for people in the 30’s or older looking to include an eye cream in their routine with strong anti-aging properties.

It’s also specially formulated with lots of hanbang ingredients, including ginseng water, wild ginseng extract, deer antler extract and Reishi mushroom extract.

It also contains arbutin, licorice root extract, pure gold, cacao extract, and saccharomyces ferment filtrate.

The premium formulation of this eye cream means it’s perfect for:

  • Treating deepening/worsening fine lines and wrinkles
  • Firming sagging skin and improving elasticity around the eyes
  • Brightening dull skin tones and minimizing dark circles under the eyes
  • Nourishing and hydrating the delicate skin under the eyes
Missha Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream korean skincare products with ginseng
The Missha Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream is full of hanbang ingredients as well as arbutin, licorice root extract, pure gold, cacao extract, and saccharomyces ferment filtrate

I found the Missha Geum Sul Vitalizing Eye Cream available at Yesstyle and SokoGlam.

7. Beauty Of Joseon Dynasty Cream

Just as the name suggests, products from the brand Beauty of Joseon are inspired by the aesthetic preferences of Korean women during the Joseon Dynasty, who focused heavily on taking care of their skin.

Beauty Of Joseon Dynasty Cream korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
I’m now reading about the Joseon Dynasty. I really love the way the brand has decided to market their skincare products.

All the products from the Beauty of Joseon brand feature hanbang ingredients, and the packaging is also so gorgeous (although quite simple compared to some of the other products I mention in this article).

Beauty of Joseon skincare products actually used to quite difficult to source not that long ago (requiring a buying service if you didn’t live in Korea). However, this brand has become hugely popular in the West and is therefore available from most online stores selling Korean skincare products.

So back to the Dynasty Cream. I actually went down a rabbit hole for about an hour just now, reading so many positive reviews. I haven’t tried this cream myself yet, but I’m definitely looking at buying myself a jar now as my introduction to hanbang skincare.

This sounds like the most luxurious cream! Not only does it contain ginseng, but one of my favorite skincare ingredients: orchid extract – as well as niacinamide (read my article on the benefits of niacinamide here), Centella asiatica (read my article on the benefits of Centella here), Calendula flower extract, hyaluronic acid, ceramide 3 and honey extract.

These ingredients make this cream not only incredibly moisturizing and nourishing, but brightening too. It’s also said to improve the skin’s moisture barrier and improve the skin’s elasticity.

The Beauty Of Joseon Dynasty Cream korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
The Beauty Of Joseon Dynasty Cream contains ginseng, orchid extract, niacinamide, Centella asiatica, Calendula flower extract, hyaluronic acid, ceramide 3 and honey extract – giving it anti-aging, brightening, moisturizing and nourishing properties

This cream has a unique texture. It’s slightly stringy or tacky – although not sticky (I’d say it’s sort of comparable to snail mucin) and absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it feeling hydrated and plump for hours.

This cream is definitely next on my list of Korean skincare products to try (I’ve only just placed an order for some other products that are now on their way). If you’d like to try this beautiful hanbang cream, you can find it at Yesstyle, SokoGlam and Jolse.

8. Erborian Ginseng Infusion Total Eye Cream

If you’re in love with French skincare, then you’ll love this eye cream.

Erborian is a skincare brand founded by French skincare expert Katalin Berenyi and Korean scientist Hojung Lee, who met while working together at another skincare company.

The formulas for Erborian skincare products are developed in a laboratory based in Seoul and combine traditional Korean herbs and new skincare technology.

The Ginseng Infusion Total Eye Cream from Erborian is available exclusively at SokoGlam.

As the name suggests, it contains ginseng (in the form of tiny ginseng beads), as well as five moisturizing botanical oils, shea butter, Centella asiatica, licorice root extract, green tea, chamomile, and panthenol.

In other words, this is an extremely moisturizing eye cream that also provides anti-aging, brightening and soothing effects. It also works great at making tired (or jet-lagged) eyes look much brighter and well, not so tired.

Erborian Ginseng Infusion Total Eye Cream korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
Korean skincare with a touch of French. This eye cream from the Korean/French brand Erborian contains ginseng, five moisturizing botanical oils, shea butter, Centella asiatica, licorice root extract, green tea, chamomile, and panthenol – making it hydrating and soothing while making your skin look younger too

If you’re looking to start incorporating hanbang ingredients into your skincare routine, then I think this is a great product to start with.

9. I’m From Ginseng Serum

One brand that I’ve been eyeing off a lot lately is the fast-emerging Korean skincare brand – I’m From.

The products from this brand are inspired by ingredients straight from nature including ginseng, sea buckthorn (known as the vitamin tree in Korea), honey and propolis, rice, mugwort, and volcanic rocks.

I’m From only uses the purest and highest quality ingredients sourced from natural environments in South Korea such as Jeju Island, Jiri Mountain (the highest peak in South Korea), Taebaek Mountain and Geum River (where the finest ginseng of South Korea is grown).

In fact, the name of the brand – I’m From – refers to where the ingredients come from in nature.

As mentioned above, the I’m From Ginseng Serum contains red ginseng (7.98% to be precise) grown in the Geum River region. The village of Geum-san has a long history with ginseng – where it has been grown for more than 1,500 years.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this serum also contains licorice root extract and hyaluronic acid. Together, these ingredients (with red ginseng) work to smooth, brighten and moisturize your skin while giving it an instant healthy glow.

I'm From Ginseng Serum korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
An affordable, yet beautiful ginseng serum. It contains 7.98% red ginseng, as well as licorice root extract and hyaluronic acid

The pricing is also quite affordable (in line with serums from brands such as iUNIK, Innisfree, COSRX and PURITO) and a little goes a long way as you really only need 3 drops for your face (plus it absorbs really well and isn’t sticky).

I think this ginseng serum would be a great start for anyone in their early 20’s to mid 30’s looking to add some anti-aging ingredients into their routine and minimize the beginnings of fine lines and wrinkles. You can find it at Yesstyle and Amazon.

10. I’m From Ginseng Mask

One of the reasons why people are flocking to I’m From skincare products is for their amazing masks, including the Ginseng Mask.

This wash-off mask contains 3.97% red ginseng extract (also from the Geum River region). This red ginseng is at least 6 years old and has been found to contain at least 30 ginsenosides (the main active constituents of ginseng).

Similar to the I’m From Ginseng Serum, it also contains licorice root extract and hyaluronic acid.

When you rub this mask onto your face, it warms up gently (a natural sensation caused by the ginseng), which helps to increase blood flow – helping your skin to absorb nutrients and improving your complexion instantly.

I'm From Ginseng Mask korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
This is one of the marketing images from I’m From for their Ginseng Mask. It almost looks good enough to eat! It contains 3.97% red ginseng extract as well as licorice root extract and hyaluronic acid.

Again, I like how affordable the products from I’m From are. I’m also a big fan of skincare brands that focus on natural ingredients (and shorter ingredient lists). I like the natural and simple look of the packaging too.

You can also buy this mask at Yesstyle.

11. Donginbi 1899 Signature Oil

Donginbi is a luxury brand well known in Korea for their premium anti-aging ginseng skincare range. Donginbi products are so loved in Korea that people often gift them to each other.

Donginbi use only the most mature type of ginseng in their products (6 year old red ginseng), which is considered the most effective type when it comes to anti-aging.

It actually wasn’t that easy to find information about Donginbi, since I don’t speak Korean and the brand isn’t as popular in the West as Sulwhasoo or The History of Whoo (not yet anyway, but I suspect this will change as hanbang takes off in the West).

I did find out thought that Donginbi is owned by the Korean Ginseng Corp (called Cheong-Kwan-Jang in South Korea) – the official red ginseng trading company of South Korea.

donginbi korean high end skincare products ginseng hanbang
The Donginbi 10-step skincare routine (a guide from the Korean Ginseng Corp website)

One of the most popular Donginbi skincare products is the Donginbi 1899 Signature Oil (so called because Cheong-Kwan-Jang was founded by the Korean government in 1899.

I actually really, really, really want this oil in my life right now (I sound like my two-year old son wanting MORE on the swing).

It contains the highest concentration of red ginseng (in the form of red ginseng oil) out of all the Donginbi skincare products. The Donginbi website says that one ginseng root goes into one drop of this oil! And apart from containing a few high quality natural oils high in essential fatty acids (Omega 6 and Omega 3 oils), it really doesn’t contain much else!

Here’s the ingredient’s list from the Donginbi website:

Panax Ginseng Root Oil, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Squalane, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Coco-Caprylate/ Caprate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Domestica Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance.

Donginbi 1899 Signature Oil korean hanbang skincare products with ginseng
The 1899 Signature Oil from the high end Korean skincare brand – Donginbi. I love this formulation! It’s got the highest concentration of any other Donginbi ginseng products and it contains Omega 6 and Omega 3 oils, making it beneficial for people with acne prone skin.

This lightweight oil is said to make skin feel instantly hydrated, smoother and supple, while looking luminous and younger. It’s powerful formula diminishes fine lines and wrinkles and it’s even suitable for acne-prone skin due to the Omega 6 and Omega 3 oils it contains (please tell me there are other people in this world struggling with aging AND acne-prone skin?

And let’s talk about the packaging! The glass bottle looks like it’s come straight from the year 1899. I love the deep red color and it also comes packaged in a little wooden box.

If you’d like to try the Donginbi 1899 Signature Oil – you can find it (and other Donginbi products) at Yesstyle.


Hanbang (the traditional herbal medicine of Korea) is finding it’s way into Korean skincare products more and more – with entire brands dedicating themselves to providing skincare products with quality hanbang ingredients and formulations (often based on ancient recipes).

Historically, ginseng is one of the most widely used hanbang ingredients, and there is therefore no surprise that this herb is the star feature in many hanbang skincare products.

The active constituents of ginseng and their benefits for the skin have been widely studied, especially in relation to anti-aging. The main active compounds of ginseng are ginsenocides, with over 100 having been identified.

Products containing ginseng have multiple benefits for the skin. In particular, ginseng is highly effective at improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and preventing UV radiation-induced skin damage (which is believed to occur through the suppression of collagen destruction and up-regulation of hyaluronic acid generation.

Research is also showing promising evidence that ginseng is an effective ingredient for treating acne and fading hyperpigmentation.

There are many Korean skincare products with ginseng available to choose from. Your skin can benefit from ginseng no matter what your age or budget, with the choice ranging from high end luxury products to more affordable mainstream products.

I hope this article has been useful for you. It really turned out so much longer than I had intended it to be (I won’t tell you how many hours I spent working on it). Let me know in the comments if you have tried any Korean skincare products containing ginseng, or if you plan to after reading this article. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more and more ginseng (as well as other hanbang ingredients) in Korean skincare products in the future!