Korean skincare is trending but is it cruelty free?

Korean skincare has arrived!   The terms glass skin, BB creams, snail mucin creams and the 10 step Korean skincare routine, are well and truly entrenched in our mainstream beauty vocab.  

For the uninitiated, navigating the Korean skincare market can be a daunting exercise when every brand name is unfamiliar.  The task is even more challenging for those of us that want cruelty free and vegan products.

Does cruelty-free Korean skincare exist?

While it is true that many Korean beauty brands do test on animals, a bill was passed in 2016 mandating a stop to all  kinds of animal testing on cosmetic and skincare brands by 2018.   

However, given China’s strict requirement for animal testing on imported product, it’s little wonder that compliance has been slow. However, there is good news.  

Although a little harder to find there are some great Korean brands that are cruelty-free, vegan or both.  Vegan products aren’t always a quick pick. 

Animal-derived ingredients such as snail mucin and marine collagen are marketed as having amazing benefits for the skin, which also explains its booming popularity among Korean beauty brands.

On the other hand, South Korea is also a country that believes in the wonders of medicinal herbs. In line with this, there are brands that are purely vegan, with their skincare technology relying solely on botanical ingredients.

The difference between cruelty-free and vegan skincare

While it’s quite common to see both of the terms ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ together on the same label, they are not the same at all. A cosmetic product can be cruelty-free but not vegan, and vice versa. To simplify their difference;

  • Cruelty-free –products do not conduct any form of animal testing throughout its course of production.
  • Vegan – products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Some of the common animal-derived ingredients found in cosmetics are beeswax, animal collagen, snail extract and egg.
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Korean skincare brands to check out

If you are currently on the hunt for guilt-free Korean skincare brands, we have listed some that you should definitely check out. While it’s already a given that they are cruelty-free, some of the products under these brands may not be entirely vegan.

Do keep in mind that the brand alone does not speak for the entirety of the product line in terms of it being vegan so it’s always safe to take a good look at the label and ingredients list of the product first.


COSRX is a K-Beauty cult-favourite and a cruelty-free brand. However, not all of the skincare products are purely vegan as some feature animal-derived products such as snail mucin. However, COSRX still carries a number of exceptional skincare products that are both cruelty-free and vegan. Their bestsellers include their extremely popular One Step Pimple Clear Pads and Low pH Good Morning Cleanser.


Whamisa takes pride in its line of skincare products featuring purely organic and fermented botanical ingredients. The brand has developed its signature ingredient fermentation process which they have continuously perfected in a span of over 10 years. Whamisa is also BDIH Certified and EWG Verified. The brand claims that most of its skincare products are vegan, with the Organic Flowers skincare line being one of the brand’s premiere cruelty-free and purely vegan products.


Klairs is a skincare brand that is considered part of the first wave of cruelty-free and vegan products in the Korean cosmetics scene. The brand’s concept is to simplify skincare by minimizing the ingredients and perfecting the basics. The Rich Moist Soothing Serum and Supple Preparation Facial Toner are a couple of the brand’s bestselling vegan products.


Neogen may not be a K-Beauty brand you hear often but technology-wise, it’s something worth noting. While it’s still slightly new to the scene, check the Bio Peel Gauze series.  It’s the brand’s biggest hit so far – thanks to this exfoliator’s multifunctional effects.

If you have a favourite Korean cruelty-free skincare brand, let us know, we would love to hear about it.  

  • Fizzi Lemon Peeling Gel | Moira
    Fizzi Lemon Peeling Gel | Moira
  • Rose Restore Peeling Gel | Moira
    Rose Restore Peeling Gel | Moira
  • Hydrogel Collagen Essence | Moira
    Hydrogel Collagen Essence | Moira

Korean skincare is trending but is it cruelty free?
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Korean skincare is trending but is it cruelty free?
Article showcases some cruelty free Korean skincare brands.
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Kind to Kin
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