featuerd image


There are many good reasons to choose vegan skincare, even if you're not specifically trying to avoid animal products. If you're sensitive to parabens, alcohol, and perfumes, you may find that vegan products are less likely to contain irritating ingredients.

While most people would whole-heartedly agree that the need to be eco-friendly and animal-friendly is more important than ever, everyone has their own ideas as to what the best approach is. You might not want (or be able) to go all the way and swear off all animal products, but we can certainly strive to be greener and more animal-friendly in our skincare routines by choosing vegan and cruelty-free options. 

There are some good reasons to choose vegan skincare, even if you aren’t specifically trying to avoid animal products. If you’re sensitive to parabens, alcohol, and fragrances, you may find that vegan products are less likely to contain irritating ingredients. They also tend to be less processed, meaning the ingredients used are closer to their natural state, and have lost less nutrients. 

Worried about having to make major changes to your product lineup? You might be surprised to find that some of your favorite products may already be vegan, cruelty-free, or vegan-friendly. These options are becoming more and more accessible.

How can I be sure a product is vegan?

There are still some tricky waters to navigate. A product with vegan ingredients is not necessarily cruelty-free. Products labelled “natural” and “organic” may not be vegan either. Here are some guidelines and suggestions on how to ensure you are actually choosing a vegan/cruelty-free product:

  • For a product to truly be vegan, it must not contain any products from animals, or any products made by animals. This means things produced by animals, like lanolin, snail extract and bee products (honey, propolis, royal jelly, or beeswax) are not 100% vegan, even if the animal isn’t harmed in the process.
  • Some ingredients may or may not be vegan, depending on how they’ve been derived. Squalane is a commonly used skin conditioner and moisturizer, however it can be extracted from shark liver oil, or olives and wheat germ, depending on the product. 
  • Just because a brand isn’t certified vegan, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Certificates are notoriously costly, and have to be renewed every year. In fact, you likely won’t find any vegan certified K-beauty brands, because certified products must be made by companies in the United States, a US territory, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. 

How can I be sure a product is cruelty-free?

This is a relatively easy-to-answer question. In Korea, a bill was passed in 2016 that required all beauty brands to be cruelty-free in 2018, or face hefty fines. Therefore, you won’t have issues with any law-abiding brand. However, there is a major caveat: mainland China still requires animal testing on all imported cosmetics. Therefore, if your K-beauty product was purchased from a store in China, it isn’t cruelty-free. This doesn’t apply to Hong Kong (as a special administrative region), or to products directly mailed to a consumer for personal use. In short, a Korean product bought online and shipped to China to an individual can be cruelty-free; a Korean product bought in a brick-and-mortar store in China is not. 

Product suggestions, please!

Now that you know how to tell if a product is vegan and cruelty-free, here are some trusted brands and great products you can try!

Brand: E Nature - All their products are vegan, with the exception of the Cicaherb Multi-Balm, which contains beeswax. They are cruelty-free and don’t have any stores in China. 

1- E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping PackThis gel-textured sleeping pack is part of E Nature’s much-loved Birch Juice line. Birch tree sap is rich in nutrition, amino acids, and enzymes, which work to hydrate and protect skin. It also contains chamomile, a known skin-soother. Recommended for dry, normal, or sensitive skin, you can use this pack on top of your moisturizer as few or many days a week as you need. Rinse off in the morning to reveal softer, smoother feeling skin.

2- E Nature Birch Juice Hydro Serum Need a serum that does a little of everything? This formula is packed with 69% birch tree sap, which is both hydrating and balancing. It has an ideal pH of 5.6 and helps to maintain the skin barrier, which in turn helps the skin to retain moisture. Skin feels softer and is more elastic. Use after toning, before moisturizing.

Brand : Klairs - Almost all of their products are vegan, except for the Manuka Honey & Choco Body Soap, and their Midnight Blue Calming Cream. These two products use honey and beeswax, and therefore aren’t strictly vegan. However, they are all cruelty-free, and sell in China solely online, meaning they are exempt from animal testing there as well. 

1- Supple Preparation Unscented Toner - If you were worried about having to ditch your beloved toner, you need not fear! This unscented version of their original bestseller is excellent if you have a lot of sensitivities, as it omits the essential oils that can cause irritation. It’s also full of great things like sodium hyaluronate, centella, and licorice root, which moisturize, soothe, and brighten. (Note: The original Supple Preparation Facial Toner is vegan as well.)

2-Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing OilAs the name suggests, there are three featured “black” ingredients in this formula. The first is oils extracted from black beans, which help control oil production and soothe dry or irritated skin. The second is black sesame, which contains protective antioxidants. The last is blackcurrant seed, which is full of vitamins. This is a mild oil that can be used by those with sensitive skin as the first part of a double cleanse.

The following are some great products that are vegan, but don’t come from all-vegan brands:

1- Huxley Be Clean, Be Moist Cleansing Gel: This low pH cleanser uses Huxley’s signature prickly pear cactus oil to cleanse and moisturize. Citrus extracts are full of vitamins and will help your skin look bright and feel clean!

2- Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Green Tea Pads: Convenient and easy-to-use, these exfoliating pads use AHAs to chemically remove dead cells and dirt from your skin. The pads are quilted, and gently buff away debris, leaving skin smooth and soft.

3- Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich TonerWhamisa’s signature formula is full of fermented botanicals, which deliver a potent dose of balancing and anti-aging ingredients. It’s enriched with nourishing argan oil and based on aloe water, for an extra boost of hydration. Works especially well for those with dry skin. Use after cleansing.

4- Whamisa Organic Flower Lotion OriginalThis lotion uses shea butter, hazel seed, and fruit oils to moisturize and soften skin. It is 95% organic, and aloe water based (as opposed to water based). This is a great choice for people with oily or combination skin, as it contains fermented ingredients which absorb quickly and work efficiently, without heaviness.

5- Bon Air Smoother Face Oil A facial oil can be a really great way to boost tired or dry skin, without greasiness. This product is specifically made from blue tansy flower oil, which is full of antioxidants and helps to calm irritated skin. It also contains marula oil, which is nourishing and good for the skin barrier. Best of all, this is a quick-working oil that is 99.8% natural plant based!