this thing's incredible

The ‘Royal’ Korean Beauty Elixir That Makes Me Feel Like a Glossier Model

The author, glowing.

As a person with perennially dry skin, central-heating season is one of my personal nightmares. There is no tiny humidifier or French face mist in the world that can actually prevent my skin from looking flushed after a few hours with the heat cranking. That was until I chanced upon this small skin miracle while stalking the Nordstrom Korean-beauty section, a K-beauty elixir that’s gotten me more compliments from friends and colleagues on my luminous skin than anything I’ve ever used, though somehow no one has heard of it before.

Whal Myung Skin Elixir
Whal Myung was made for the royal family of Korea.

And perhaps for good reason: Whal Myung calls itself a Korean royal secret. Dong Wha, the oldest pharmacy in Korea, crafted the original 11-herb formula “Whal Myung Su” in 1897 for the royal family as an herbal medicine ingested to stave off indigestion. (The name “Whal Myung Su” literally means “lifesaving water.”) For the product’s 120th anniversary this year, Dong Wha released the skin elixir as a topical treatment with five of the original Whal Myung Su herb extracts, plus shea butter and natural oils — including beauty favorites argan and squalane.

Conventional wisdom tells you that all-in-one products don’t work, but this hybrid product — a serum, toner, and oil — keeps my skin feeling refreshed and supple without looking like I just slathered my face in canola oil. Here’s how I use it: After swabbing my face with micellar water in the morning, I shake up the bottle to make sure the oils don’t separate, pour a dime-size amount into my palm, and massage it onto my face and neck. (The bottle comes with a spray nozzle that mists a light, but not overpowering, dusting on your skin, but I ditch the nozzle completely.) I’ll finish with a light layer of moisturizer on top, but some days, I’ll even skip moisturizer to look as radiant as a Glossier model. A little goes a long way — I’ve gone through one bottle after using it on and off for a few months.

The results speak for themselves. Co-workers will comment and question me. Friends want to know what I’m doing. While at a party recently, I was crammed onto a couch with two pals when one of them studied me at close range and commented, “Your skin looks really glowy today.” The other agreed and immediately asked me what I was using. After being complimented and asked, I’ve also spilled the secret to my roommate and a beauty editor friend. Now, you know, too.

Whal Myung Skin Elixir

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The K-Beauty Elixir That Makes Me Feel Like a Glossier Model