A Guide to Vegan and Cruelty Free Korean Beauty Products

A Guide to Vegan and Cruelty Free Korean Beauty Products


A Guide To Vegan and Cruelty Free Korean Beauty Products.  

The very essence of Korean beauty products is to be found in the natural, gentle and nurturing care that they offer. It should come as no surprise then, that there are plenty of vegan-friendly and cruelty free K-Beauty products on the market. From Purito and COSRX to Klavuu, well-established Korean beauty brands have been quick to realise the importance of creating premium quality formulas and serums that are also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. 

In the past few years tremendous leaps have been made toward ensuring the ethical production of Korean beauty products. In 2016 a bill that proposed an end to the testing of beauty products on animals was passed in Korea, and by 2018 it was mandatory that all Korean companies become cruelty-free. 

As for here in the UK, the RSPCA clarifies that ‘since March 2013, it has...been illegal to sell cosmetics products within the EU which have been, or which contain ingredients, newly tested on animals’. At the time of writing, EU law, across all policy areas, is currently still applicable to and in the UK. This means that even with Brexit, it remains true that absolutely no products sold on this website have been newly tested on animals.

Does that also mean all our products are cruelty free and vegan friendly? Let’s start with a couple of definitions: 

A couple of definitions:  

Cruelty Free - ‘produced without involving any cruelty to animals in the development or manufacturing process’ (Oxford English Dictionary).

For a product to be classified as cruelty free means that it has not been tested on animals at any point during its production; suppliers of ingredients are not involved with the testing of raw ingredients on animals; no third-party groups test the products on animals, and no products are sold to regions in which products would be tested on animals.

Korean beauty brands such as COSRX and Benton, which have been certified by official bodies as being cruelty free, have never tested their products or ingredients on animals, nor have they sold their products to countries that would. You can 100% guarantee you are buying cruelty free products when you buy from them. It is worth remembering however, that many blossoming Korean brands are yet to embark upon the same gruelling and expensive process of certification, while still meeting the definition of cruelty free. 

In order to ensure they meet the definition of cruelty free, brands such as COSRX not only avoid all types of animal testing, they also do not sell to areas such as mainland China, where animal testing has a long history of taking place. 

An attractive and expansive market that up until recently enforced mandatory animal testing, China has always posed a problem to brands meeting the full definition of cruelty free. By selling to China, a company cannot claim to be entirely cruelty free and that is why not all brands can be awarded the same title. Though efforts by those such as The Humane Society International (HSI) meant that in March 2019, China’s Gansu Province National medical products Association announced that post-market testing for imported cosmetics in China will not include animal testing, there is still more to be done.  

To make a truly informed decision, it is worth bearing in mind that while no products can be tested on animals in Korea or the UK, some Korean beauty brands may not quite meet the definition of cruelty free because of sales to countries like China.

Amore Pacific, a large South Korea cooperation, that owns many popular Korean beauty brands including Laneige, Innisfree and Etude House, state that they, only sell products in mainland China that are not required to be tested on animals. The ingredients used in those products are on China’s “whitelist”.   However, it’s important to note that while it is unlikely, in some instances those products could be subject to post-market testing. 

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And what about vegan friendly?

Vegan Friendly -  ‘made or manufactured without the use of animal products, so as to be suitable for vegans’ (Oxford English Dictionary).

The high demand for all things vegan has taken the K-Beauty industry by storm, from formulas that nourish your skin to hair care products that rejuvenate thirsty tresses into silky strands with their hydrating formulas, Korean cosmetics have taken notice of what consumers demand. Companies such as Benton are not only cruelty free, they have taken steps to ensure that many of their products are vegan friendly. Other brands creating vegan friendly products include COSRX, Laneige and Some By Mi. 


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Going #crueltyfree and #vegan is trending and with the continued support of the K-Beauty brands above it will remain a transformative influence on the global beauty industry. While there may still be more to do, gone are the days where your choice of beauty products was extremely limited by the small number of cruelty-free brands and products. So many fabulous K-Beauty products meet the definitions of cruelty free and vegan friendly.





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