Su:m37° Secret Essence

the claim

Enriched with fermented extracts from over 80 plants, the Su:m37° Secret Essence transforms skin to give it a smooth, baby-like softness. It is said to hydrate, tone, soothe and leave skin feeling revitalised and glowing.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 

the science

It’s not exactly a short ingredient list although not unexpected given the product boasts over 80 fermented botanical extracts. I counted 115 ingredients in total.

Fermentation increases the potency of ingredients by breaking them down into a smaller molecular size for easier absorption into the skin. Fermentation adds microorganisms that release enzymes to achieve this. It also introduces amino acids, organic acids and antioxidants to optimise product benefits and nutrition. Furthermore, as fermentation neutralises any toxins that may exist within the raw ingredients, it also reduces the risk of skin irritation.

Extracts are individually fermented in cedar barrels in a controlled, consistent environment at the optimum humidity and temperature of 37˚C (hence the 37˚ in the brand name) for 365 days. The formula contains an exclusively patented Ferulic Acid which helps activate the star ingredient, Cytosis®, made of these 80+ fermented botanical extracts. Cytosis® is able to rebuild the foundation of good skin and strengthen it against external pollutants and aggressors through its enriched antioxidant properties. Ferulic Acid is a potent antioxidant which makes it extremely helpful against ageing.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 
So, let’s have a look at a few other ingredients in the formulation. Firstly, water would make up the vast majority of the volume, particularly noted since the fourth ingredient on the list Meadowsweet Extract has a recommended concentration of between 5-10% in skin care products. This ingredient is a soothing herb, useful for treating irritated skin due to its anti-inflammatory, toning and astringent properties. Represented at significant concentrations are Dipropylene Glycol, a humectant that helps to draw moisture to the skin while recognised as an emollient and helping to retain moisture is Glycereth-26.

There are a few humectants (Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Betaine) added for hydration and way down past all the botanical extracts you’ll also find Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lipids, Cetearyl Alcohol and Ceramides. As great as these may be, their concentrations are very low and unlikely to have much impact on the skin. Rounding off the formulation are essential oils added for fragrance and preservative function to increase the shelf life of the product, all of which have the potential to be sensitizing.
 

the ingredients

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycereth-26, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Ferulic Acid, Lactobacillus/Pear Juice Ferment Filtrate, Saccharomyces/Barley Seed Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Wasabia Japonica Root Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Water Hyacinth Ferment, Lactobacillus/Ginseng Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Rye Flour Ferment Filtrate, Monascus Purpureus/Fermented Rice, Saccharomyces/Potato Extract Ferment Filtrate, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Saccharomyces/Grape Ferment Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Diospyros Kaki Fruit Extract, Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) Extract, Actinidia Polygama Fruit Extract, Senna Seed Extract, Sweet Potato Extract, Trichosanthes Kirilowii Root Extract, Lycium Chinense Fruit Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Honeysuckle Flower Extract, Millet Seed Extract, Ground Ivy Extract, Platycodon Grandiflorum Root Extract, Acer Palmatum Leaf Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Codonopsis Lanceolata Root Extract, Camellia Japonica Leaf Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Lemon Balm Extract, Lippia Citriodora Leaf Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Garlic Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Chaenomeles Sinensis Fruit Extract, Radish Extract, Fig Fruit Extract, Musa Sapientum (Banana) Fruit Extract, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf Extract, Monarda Didyma Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Beet Root Extract, Eriobotrya Japonica Leaf Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Morus Bombycis Leaf Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract, Ginger Root Extract, Dandelion leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Salvia Officinalis/ Sage Leaf Extract, Equisetum Arvense Extract, Watermelon Fruit Extract, Brassica Rapa (Turnip) Leaf Extract, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract, Artemisia Princeps Leaf Extract, Brassica Oleracea Capitata (Cabbage) Leaf Extract, Allium Cepa (Onion) Bulb Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Schefflera veitchii Extract, Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Cucumis sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Plantago Major Seed Extract, Hemerocallis Fulva Flower Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, Akebia quinata Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Crataegus Cuneata Fruit Extract, Grifola Frondosa Fruiting Body Extract, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Perilla Frutescens Leaf Extract, Geranium Robertianum Extract, Anemarrhena Asphodeloides Root Extract, Rehmannia Chinensis Root Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Acorus Calamus Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Phaseolus Angularis Seed Extract, Peppermint Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Lentinus edodes Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Schizonepeta Tenuifolia Extract, Safflower Flower Extract, Cichorium Intybus (Chicory) Root Extract, Vanilla Tahitensis Fruit Extract, Poloxamer 234, Betaine, Glycosphingolipids, Phospholipids, Niacinamide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide 3, Polyquaternium-51, Lauryl Dimethicone/Polyglycerin-3 Crosspolymer, Cholesterol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cetearyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Tromethamine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Camomile) Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Lime Oil
 

the packaging

The Su:m37° Secret Essence comes in a heavy frosted glass bottle with controlled dropper dispenser opening and screw top plastic lid.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence Packaging
 

the analysis

Both the CosDNA and EWG assessments produce a mild hazard rating for the Su:m37° Secret Essence due to typical potential allergens.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence CosDNA Analysis
 

the application

After using toner, take a few drops of essence and smooth over the face. Lightly pat for more than 10 seconds for thorough absorption and effect.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 

the scent

The Su:m37° Secret Essence has a citrus scent that dissipates quickly after application.
 

the cost

The Su:m37° Secret Essence costs approximately AUD$120 for a 100ml bottle.
 

the availability

This product is widely available from Korean skincare boutiques. I purchased mine from Style Korean.
 

the performance

The most popular, highest selling signature product for the brand, the Su:m37° Secret Essence is more than famous in the Korean skincare world. It is iconic. Due to the high concentration of fermented extracts, it is often compared to luxurious Asian products such as the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. Does is live up to the hype?
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence Claims
 
Firstly, the presentation is luxe, synonymous with the high end brand. The heavy bottle with its sleek appearance, elegant labeling and red jewel topped gold lid ooze sophistication. The frosted glass finish implies the product is not light sensitive. It is simply a pleasure to have this essence sitting on the bathroom counter. The dropper mechanism works well, dispensing the required few drops per application easily and with low risk of contamination.

The liquid is very lightweight but more viscous than water. It is quite a typical texture for a product of its nature. It has a distinct herb-like citrus fragrance which is not unexpected given the high number of botanical extracts and the several citrus essential oils. The scent certainly dissipates with absorption which is fast. Once applied to the skin, the essence simply sinks in without any trace of residue, stickiness or tackiness. Only one layer is required and as directed, should be patted in gently for at least 10 seconds. It’s quite extraordinary how satisfying it is to pat into the skin because of its slight cooling sensation and its lightweight viscosity.

In trialing this product, I chose to use it as intended, after toner. After a few weeks of twice daily use, I observed some improvement in my skin texture, although it was not dramatic. I get a much more rapid improvement in softness and smoothness from a propolis product like the Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis or LJH Vita-Propolis Ampoule. My skin is certainly somewhat softer and smoother after continued use however, the texture impact took me a few weeks to truly appreciate.

The hydration effect on the other hand was far more obvious and plumpness quickly observed. I used this in place of my regular hydrating essences to gauge its ability to return and retain moisture to the skin. The only other hydrating element in my routine was my toner, at which time I was using Leegeehaam Grow Hyal B5. The Su:m37° Secret Essence was able to hydrate my skin very effectively. As such, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this for hydration purposes alone.

Finally, with respect to the price… well, after some consideration, I believe it is worth every cent. A good essence costs upwards of US$30 for a 30ml bottle. Using this arithmetic, US$100 for 100ml seems acceptable and even at the more affordable end of hydrating essences. This considered a luxury item makes it a bargain! So, I would absolutely suggest that this is well worth the seemingly hefty price tag. The only unfortunate thing is that you commit to 100ml without any certainty that you’ll like it. Smaller volume options that I’m aware of come in special Su:m37° sets which often include a trial sized (30ml) bottle. The advantage with these is that they additionally give you the opportunity to try several other items from the brand.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 
Due to its lightweight consistency and high absorbancy, I would suggest that the Su:m37° Secret Essence is suitable for all skin types. All need hydrating and this will achieve that in a sophisticated way. Of course, those sensitive to botanical derivatives need to be overly cautious since the formula boasts over 80 natural extracts as well as several essential oils.
 

the conclusion

This essence provided me a boost in hydration while also adding a softening and smoothing effect to my skin. It is a luxurious step in my routine that I thoroughly enjoy. The 100ml bottle will last many months so the initial outlay for the large volume is more than justified. Those into Korean beauty who haven’t tried it, really should. It retains an iconic status because of its efficacy and elegance.
 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 

the summary

Pros Cons
Lightweight viscosity Only available online for Australians
No residue or tackiness Expensive investment if it turns out you don’t like it
Provides a solid hydration boost Includes potentially sensitizing essential oils
Improves skin smoothness and softness
Suitable for all skin types
Easy, fast absorption
Sophisticated, hygienic packaging

 
Su:m37° Secret Essence
 

the references

Su:m37° website
Why Korean Women Love this Skin Care Brand with Fermented Ingredients Tina Cho
Does this Korean essence live up to its amazing claims? Kristen Juliet Soh
Meadowsweet Extract Making Cosmetics
Meadowsweet Extract Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary
Dipropylene Glycol Truth In Aging

 


the disclaimer

Please read in context with my disclaimer.
 


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