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11 Cruelty-Free Korean Skincare Brands You’ll Surely Love

Cruelty-Free Korean Skincare

We can’t believe we’re STILL saying this…

But, yes, there are Korean skincare brands that still do animal testing in 2021.

All hope is not lost, though!

If you want to fight against this practice, we should shift our attention to more cruelty-free Korean skincare products.

Here is a list of all the BEST cruelty-free K-beauty products you’ll surely love:

Table of Contents

1. Purito


Is It Cruelty-Free?

Purito claims that its ingredients, formulations, and final products are NOT tested on animals.

Not only that, but this beauty brand also donates some of its profits to the Best Friend Animal Society.

Purito’s products are vegan, which means it does not use any animal products in its formulation. Its skin care products also have a fairly inexpensive price range.

All in all, it’s definitely a brand that you should look out for!

Top Products

Purito - Top Products

Deep Sea Pure Water Cream

If you struggle with dehydrated and dry skin, you may want to check this product out!

The Purito Deep Sea Pure Water Cream is made of deep-sea water, sodium hyaluronate, and niacinamide, all of which help you achieve that hydrated and radiant look!

Centella Unscented Serum

Do you have damaged skin? The Purito Centella line has got you covered.

This Purito Unscented Serum calms and improves irritated skin. Its star ingredients are Centella Asiatica, Ceramide NP, and Peptide.

Galacto Niacin 97 Power Essence

This skincare product uses Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Niacinamide, and Bifida Ferment Filtrate.

All of these combined serve to hydrate AND brighten your skin.

2. Benton


Is It Cruelty-Free?

Benton is certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) as a cruelty-free Korean skincare line.

The K beauty brand does not test animals on their ingredients and its final products. Unlike Purito, Benton’s products are not all vegan.

Top Products

Benton - Top Products

Snail Bee High Content Essence

This essence does a whole lot!

First, it can be used on oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.

It contains adenosine (which improves wrinkles) AND niacinamide (which brightens up the face)

ALSO, it has skin healing ingredients like snail mucin, snail secretion filtrate, and bee venom.

Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel

This gel has soothing and refreshing qualities as its main ingredient is the Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (which contains polysaccharides and Propolis Extract).

Did we mention it’s also suitable for sensitive skin?

3. Dear, Klairs

Dear, Klairs

Is it Cruelty-Free?

KARA (or the Korea Animal Rights Advocates) considers Klairs animal-friendly. This means the brand does not condone animal cruelty in any of its products.

Its skincare line is not completely vegan as some contain animal byproducts like beeswax and honey.

Top Products

Dear, Klairs - Top Products

Rich Moist Soothing Cream

One of our favorite products is this 100% vegan cream which uses shea butter, ceramide 3, and lipidure to soothe and moisturize.

Midnight Blue Calming Cream

Here’s another cream option for you from this Korean skincare brand!

Its star ingredient is Guaiazulene (which is extracted from camomile oil).  This ingredient helps calm and relax irritated and stressed skin.

Fun fact: Guaiazulene is also the reason why the color is blue!



Is it Cruelty-Free?

Like many K beauty brands, COSRX does not have any certification proving its products are not animal tested.

However, the skincare brand itself has expressed that it is cruelty-free.

It’s not 100% vegan though as some of its products contain snail mucin. Also, the price range of its products is highly affordable.

Top Products

COSRX - Products

Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Start the day right with the COSRX Good Morning Gel Cleanser which removes impurities and improves skin texture.

Good news: it’s also suitable for all skin types!

Acne Pimple Master Patch + COSRX Clear Fit Master Patch

Breaking out? Let COSRX save the day with the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch!

Its key ingredient is a hydrocolloid, which heals and flattens wounds and acne.

Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream

This cream is great if you’re looking for a nourishing and hydrating cream that is also safe for all skin types!

5. Sioris


Is It Cruelty-Free?

Sioris has confirmed it’s cruelty-free although it does not have any certifications to back it up.

A few of its products also contain organic beeswax, which means it isn’t a fully vegan K-beauty skincare line.

Top Products

Sioris - Top Products

Time is Running Out Natural Facial Oil Hydrating Mist

This Mist can be used on dehydrated and sensitive skin. Its core ingredients include macadamia seed oil, jojoba seed oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Cleanse Me Softly Milk Cleanser

This Milk Cleanser uses organic citric water to moisturize your skin. It also has plenty of Vitmain B, C, and Calcium.

6. Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe

Is It Cruelty-Free?

Glow Recipe is a cruelty-free Korean skincare brand, as certified by Leaping Bunny.

However, some of its skincare products do contain honey, so it’s not a 100% vegan brand.

Glow Recipe is known for having a variety of cosmetics from different categories that are formulated with high-quality natural ingredients.

Top Products

Glow Recipe - Top Products

Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask

This overnight or sleeping mask has many purposes that regular sheet masks won’t give you.

It exfoliates, brightens, AND hydrates skin as it is made with the best natural ingredients like watermelon, hyaluronic acid, and AHA.

Papaya Cleansing Balm

Glow Recipe also came up with the exfoliating Papaya Cleansing Balm, which improves your skin’s texture. Talk about great skin care!

7. Sweet Chef

Sweet Chef

Is It Cruelty-Free?

Sweet Chef is BOTH vegan and cruelty-free! They are also certified by Leaping Bunny as a brand that does not test its formulas on animals.

Side note: All its skincare products look good enough to eat! Maybe that’s why it’s called Sweet Chef.

Top Products

Sweet Chef - Top Products

Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot

This serum shot is packed with so many vitamin ingredients!

The ginger, vitamin C, and turmeric root extract give you a radiant glow while brightening your dark spots and relieving inflammation.

Turmeric + Vitamin C Booster Eye Cream

More turmeric and vitamin C? Yes, please!

This product is used specifically to help correct your eyes’ dark circles and puffiness.

8. Krave Beauty

Krave Beauty

Is It Cruelty-Free?

Krave Beauty has confirmed it does not conduct any test on animals.

This cruelty-free Korean brand is also 100% vegan! Because vegan products are made of natural ingredients, these may be suitable for sensitive skin types.

Top Products

Krave Beauty - Top Products

Great Barrier Relief

The Great Barrier Relief uses tamanu oil to improve damaged and irritated skin.

Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser

This cleanser is made of matcha and hemp seeds to give you a boost of hydration! It doesn’t irritate your skin and ensures your skin maintains a healthy pH level.

9. Peach & Lily

Peach and Lily

Is It Cruelty-Free?

We have another Leaping-Bunny-certified brand on our list today.

Peach & Lily is a great cruelty-free Korean beauty line, but take note not all products are vegan.

Top Products

Peach and Lily - Top Products

Glass Skin Refining Serum

K-beauty brands are popular for knowing the secret to flawless glass skin. This refining serum helps you achieve just that!

Get hydrated, smooth, and glowing skin from its ingredients: peach extract, niacinamide, East Asian mountain yam, madecassoside, peptides, and hyaluronic acid.

Jeju Botanical pH Balancing Cleanser

This cleanser removes dirt and makeup while brightening up the face.

One of its main ingredients is Jeju botanical complex extract, which can be found in the famous Jeju Island.

10. The Vegan Glow

The Vegan Glow

Is It Cruelty-Free?

This Korean skin care brand has been certified by PETA  so you know they don’t resort to any animal test.

With a name like The Vegan Glow, it’s only expected that all of its products are fully vegan.

Top Products

Top Products

Good Night Cream

This cream from The Vegan Glow does wonders for sensitive skin! It uses ingredients like Vitamin E and Adenosine, which moisturizes your skin and prevents wrinkles.

Mild Foam Cleanser

The Vegan Glow Mild Foam Cleanser is hypoallergenic and has a pH level of 5.5.

Using natural ingredients is crucial to this cruelty-free Korean skincare brand. This cleanser is formulated with coconut-derived surfactants, so you’re guaranteed it’s safe and healthy for your skin.

11. A-True


Is It Cruelty-Free?

A-True has claimed it does not support animal testing in the process of its product development, although it has not been certified.

Top Products

A-True - Top Products

Real Black Tea True Active Essence

This essence uses black tea extract due to its antioxidant properties.

Aside from black tea, it also has adenosine (which removes wrinkles) and green tea extract (which reduces redness).

Origin Pure Balancing Cleansing Oil

This product uses EIGHT natural oils to remove dirt and makeup from your face.

What About the Animal Testing Law in South Korea?

Yes, South Korea has a law that bans animal testing for cosmetics. This has been in effect since 2018.

So does that mean that ALL Korean skincare brands are 100% cruelty-free?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. And a big reason for that is due to China law.

In China, animal testing is legally required for the importation of cosmetics.

And so to address this, some K-beauty brands make two versions of one product: one that is cruelty-free and one that is not.

For these Korean skincare companies, they simply cannot ignore the huge potential in the Chinese market.

That’s why it’s important to know which companies distribute in China.

But take note though: Hong Kong is not a part of mainland China so it does not have the same animal testing laws. In short, cruelty-free Korean skincare brands can still sell in Hong Kong.

If you’re wondering, yes, all the brands that we’ve mentioned so far DO NOT sell in physical stores in China. These are not just cruelty-free in South Korea, but all over the world.

Doesn't Vegan Mean Cruelty-Free?

Vegan and Cruelty-Free

There are many instances where the labels cruelty-free and vegan get lumped together in makeup and skincare products. Because of this, some people think that these terms are interchangeable.

So let’s clear it up: cruelty-free and vegan DO NOT mean the same thing.

Generally, a product is cruelty-free if animals were not tested in the process of making it. On the other hand, when skincare products are vegan, it means NONE of its ingredients are animal products or animal by-products.

A few examples of non-vegan ingredients would be honey, snail mucin, beeswax, milk, and more.

So, yes, it’s right that skincare products can be both vegan AND cruelty-free. BUT it can also be only of these. This is where it gets a bit tricky.

Some may argue if products are not cruelty-free, they should also not be categorized as vegan.

One thing to note is both cruelty-free and vegan terms have very loose definitions (we’ll touch on this more later). People attach varying meanings for each.

As of now, the general idea is: products can be vegan even if these were tested on animals or aren’t cruelty-free. Given these definitions, let’s go back to our list above:

To be clear, all of the Korean skincare products we’ve mentioned are cruelty-free, but not all products are vegan.

Do K-Beauty Brands Need to Have Cruelty-Free Certification?

As you may have noticed, some Korean brands are certified cruelty-free while most are not.

So the question is: is it required to get certified to prove you’re a cruelty-free K beauty brand?

No, it’s not.

BUT Korean brands that are certified are definitely credited as more trusted and reliable by the public.

This trust factor is especially important since the term “cruelty-free” does not have any formally set definitions.

Let us explain.

For the regular consumer, you would think cruelty-free skin care means all of the following:

  • Its ingredients and finished products are NOT tested on animals
  • There are NO THIRD PARTIES or suppliers that do animal testing
  • It DOES NOT sell in countries that require animal testing

However, in reality, that’s not the case.

Because the term is ambiguous, it can also mean:

  • The cosmetics company did not test the final product on animals, but the ingredients have been tested
  • The company did not test on animals, but its suppliers and third parties did
  • The company conducted animal testing on a different version of the product (the ones being distributed to countries that require these tests)

Being Cruelty-Free Certified...

Some companies may take advantage of the vagueness of this term. They mislead buyers to think that they are cruelty-free even though they may not strictly be so.

That is why being cruelty-free CERTIFIED is very relevant. 

There are two reliable organizations when it comes to cruelty-free certifications: PETA and Leaping Bunny.

Both of these organizations require that companies do not conduct animal tests on ingredients or finished products.

Leaping Bunny also expects a certified company should not have suppliers or third-party manufacturers that test on animals.

On top of that, Leaping Bunny also conducts independent audits on those claiming to be cruelty-free K beauty brands.

To avoid any misinformation, the best-case scenario is Korean beauty brands that are truly cruelty-free will get certified.

List of Non-Cruelty-Free Korean Brands

List of Brands

Unfortunately, there are still a number of non-cruelty-free skincare brands in Korea. 

We enumerated a few of the most popular ones in this list:

  • Etude House
  • Innisfree
  • Laneige
  • Skinfood

Etude House, Innis Free, and Laneige are all under the same cosmetics parent company, which is AmorePacific.

As a company, AmorePacific is known not to be cruelty-free.

Interestingly, all four skincare lines (including Skinfood) have expressed they do not use animal testing in their ingredients or finished products. This may be the case regarding skin care products sold in Korea.

However, they also distribute their skincare and makeup items in mainland China, which requires animal testing. This means they are NOT 100% cruelty-free Korean beauty brands.

The four brands also do not hold any certifications (from PETA or Leaping Bunny).

Although the price range of these Korean beauty brands is relatively affordable, it may not be worth it if they conduct these tests.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

We admit there is some difficulty in knowing which Korean companies have cruelty-free skincare brands.

It does take a little more research than usual as companies are not as transparent as we would like them to be.

Also, because terms like vegan and cruelty-free don’t necessarily have one meaning across the board, it may seem confusing as to what a company really means.

We have to be willing to put in the effort and demand more accountability from these K beauty brands and cosmetics companies.

After all, the BEST brands are not just defined by its products’ quality, but also on whether or not these brands exemplify ethical character traits; hence, cruelty-free brands.

At the end of the day, we can also strive to make this world a better place one skincare product at a time.


August 16, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links

Paola Diaz
Paola Diaz

Hi, I'm Paola! A skin care enthusiast and nature lover. Creating content that promotes proper skin treatment and keeping a healthy glow is my way of sharing with the world how healthy skin can go a long way. I’m a firm believer of natural beauty that radiates inside all of us. All we need is the right kind of nourishment that inspires our wellness from inside out. So it’s really not about physical beauty alone – it’s the beautiful life we can create for ourselves when we connect with our own nature and see there is beauty that shines from every one of us.