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Beauty Skincare

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Looking for glass skin? I’m guiding you through the thriving world of Korean skincare, unveiling a selection of standout vegan Korean skincare brands such as Pyunkang Yul and COSRX. I’ll help you understand what to look out for when choosing vegan skincare products.

Popular Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Before we dive in, I have some amazing Korean Skincare brands to share, but please read on to check the ingredients you need to watch out for as not all brands are exclusively vegan!

Leading the vegan charge with cruelty-free products are brands such as Klairs, Purito, and Benton, which have made strides in excluding all animal-derived ingredients from their lineups. With no comprehensive vegan certification in South Korea, these brands carve out their reputation through self-imposed standards and international recognition. These brands are pushing the envelope, making sure their vegan skincare products are packed with nature's finest ingredients, free from harmful chemicals, and perfect for sensitive skin types...

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands
Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Pyunkang Yul: For Skincare Serenity

Rooted in the ancient wisdom of Oriental medicine, Pyunkang Yul offers a minimalist approach to skincare with its hero vegan-friendly Essence Toner for healthy skin. Harnessing the properties of Milk Vetch Root Extract, this toner promises to invigorate and rehydrate the skin, restoring it to a state of serene balance post-cleansing. Born from the Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic, the brand embodies the synergy of herbal knowledge with modern skincare science. I also love their deep cleansing oil, and I must say, it looks beautiful on my skincare shelf.

Klairs: For Supercharging Clean Ingredients

Klairs has evolved to become committed to vegan Korean skincare, being the first to be approved by the Korea Agency of Vegan Certification and Services. There are still a few products under their brand on the market that are not vegan, like the Manuka Honey & Choco Body Soap; however, they are striving to eliminate non-vegan ingredients from their lineup completely. We’d recommend checking out their Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop for a combination of Vitamin C & Centella in one serum—amazing for dark circles!

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands
Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

COSRX: For Your Affordable Essential Ingredients

As a beacon of Korean beauty, COSRX leads with a keen focus on minimalist, effective, and affordable vegan skincare that steers clear of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. You’ll find this brand most readily available from retailers like Amazon, Ulta, and Sephora. Not all of COSRX's offerings are vegan, as some contain snail mucin, but their commitment to vegan options includes products like the COSRX - Low pH Good Morning Cleanser and COSRX - Centella Blemish Cream. This particular cleanser is my favourite for its gentle approach to purifying skin while preserving its delicate pH balance. I’d also highly recommend their Aloe Soothing Sunscreen SPF50 which is a calming cream and Acne Pimple Master Patch.

SMD Cosmetics: For Ultimate Luxury

Pure luxury. SMD Cosmetics prides itself on being an award-winning Korean beauty brand that fuses clean ingredients, natural herbal concoctions, and cruelty-free practices. Although nearly all their products are vegan, exceptions like the Saromae Snail Serum exist. With a price range from $82 to $220, they offer premium, herbal-enriched skincare. Once you’re past the dazzling packaging, you’ll find a wealth of nourishing, rich ingredients targeting skin aging. The Inhyunjin Eye Cream Reversing Miracle Eye Concentrate is just divine if you’re looking to plump fine lines around the eyes. 

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands
Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Purito: For Sensitive Skin Types

With a deep commitment to clean ingredients and simple skincare, Purito guarantees its products are devoid of harsh chemicals such as parabens and sulfates, considering only the purest of ingredients for this sensitive task. They’ve recently had a rebrand, so you may not instantly recognize their products, but they still highlight Centella as a wonderfully soothing ingredient, and I cannot get enough of their Avocado Cleansing Balm - heavenly! 

Benton: For The Elevated Basics

Recognized by PETA, Benton has carved a niche for itself within the world of K-beauty. The Fermentation Eye Cream, is one of the few eye creams that I truly notice a difference in my under eyes - as a real dark circle sufferer! Despite its PETA approval, you’ll need to avoid its Bee Venom products. I do love that they clearly label their vegan products and have an entire category on their website dedicated to the options without animal products.

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands
Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Beauty of Joseon: For Clean, Minimalist Skincare Routines

Beauty of Joseon is synonymous with fragrance-free and clean formulas. It draws on Hanbang, the traditional Korean herbal medicine, to infuse products like the Radiance Cleansing Balm and Ginseng Essence Water: two products I love in the summer months.

Thank You Farmer: For Nourishing Botanical Ingredients

Focused on pure, botanical extracts that work to repair and support your skin’s barrier, Thank You Farmer is a wonderful choice for straightforward, nourishing skincare. The Rice Pure The Real Scrub is like a spa treatment in a tub and I love their lightweight Sun Project Water Sun Cream SPF50.

What Korean Skincare Ingredients To Avoid to Ensure They’re Vegan

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

It's essential to know which ingredients to avoid, as many Korean beauty products incorporate non-vegan elements due to their reputed benefits for skin elasticity, hydration, and rejuvenation while still being labelled as clean ingredients. Non-vegan ingredients commonly found in Korean skincare include snail mucin, known for its healing properties; horse oil, which is moisturising; beeswax and honey, often used for their soothing abilities; and lanolin, a skin softener derived from sheep wool.

To help identify these products, here is a quick reference list of non-vegan ingredients to be mindful of when exploring Korean skincare and checking product labels:

  • Snail Extract (Snail Mucin): A common ingredient for its reparative properties.
  • Horse Oil: Moisturises and aids in skin healing.
  • Beeswax and Honey: Have soothing, antibacterial, and humectant characteristics.
  • Bee Venom & Bee Extracts: For skin plumping and collagen production.
  • Lanolin: A natural emollient coming from sheep wool.
  • Carmine: A red pigment originating from crushed cochineal insects, often used in color cosmetics.
  • Animal-based Glycerin: Derived from animal fats, used as a humectant.
  • Stearic Acid: Frequently derived from animal fats; used as an emulsifier.
  • Pig Collagen: Promoted for anti-aging and skin plumping effects.

Run checks on products: to be sure, copy and paste the ingredients from the product into an online checking tool like Double Check Vegan.

But fear not, one of the biggest selling points of Korean Skincare is their use of effective synthetic ingredients, botanical, organic ingredients and advanced formulations that you won’t be missing out without the animal based ingredients. For example, Hyaluronic acid does an incredible job of plumping and hydrating the skin!

Choosing the Right Vegan Korean Skincare Products

Vegan Korean Skincare Brands

Embracing vegan Korean skincare products is a thoughtful choice, not just for a radiant complexion but for the planet too. You’ll struggle to find brands as thoughtful with their ingredients as some of the Korean Skincare brands, with an array of natural and botanical ingredients that cater to sensitive and dry skin and plant-based formulations.

I’ve found that they typically fall into two camps: ingredient benefits focused or luxurious experience. You’ll find whichever you need at any price point, with Korean Skincare being some of the most affordable on the market. Whether you have combination skin, oily skin, or are simply seeking deep hydration to ward off premature aging, there's a vegan Korean skincare product out there that won't break the bank.

For Ingredient Focused Cruelty Free Brands I’d Recommend: 

For A Luxurious Experience I’d Recommend: 

Identifying Vegan-friendly Labels on Skincare Products

Labels can be tricky; they often boast 'natural ingredients' or 'cruelty-free' badges without being entirely vegan. Cruelty-free merely indicates that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals. That's why I’d always recommend checking the brand’s website as they often display a vegan label. Certain cruelty-free brands may not offer exclusively vegan products, it's important to delve into the specifics of each product.

You might also see synthetic ingredients that you’re not necessarily familiar with but it doesn’t mean that they’re not vegan.

Are All Korean Skincare Brands Cruelty-Free?

By default, no. However K-Beauty and Korean Skincare brands are some of the leaders in cruelty-free skincare and so it’s a great place to start if you’re concerned about animal welfare. Brands like Klairs, CosRX, Pyungkang Yul and Benton are amongst the Cruelty-Free leaders.

Korean skincare

Essential Vegan Korean Skincare Products For A Radiant Complexion

Vegan Korean skincare products form the cornerstone of a plant-based daily routine that nourishes the skin without the use of ingredients such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, and gelatin. 

Vegan Korean Cleansers

A sound skincare routine kicks off with the right cleanser, and vegan options like Klairs' Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser offers a gentle yet effective start, especially important if you have irritated skin. Providing a pH-balanced and moisturising cleanse without harsh chemicals, these cleansers prioritise skin health and environmental well-being. In the Korean skincare landscape, cleansers are not just about purifying the skin but also about honouring the skin's natural balance and vitality. The Pyungkang Yul’s Deep Cleansing oil is also an extremely effective cleansing oil for all skin types. 

Vegan Korean Toners 

Following a thorough cleanse, a vegan toner can redefine skin's texture and tone and re-establish the pH balance. These vegan toners are concocted with an abundance of plant-derived goodness that your skin will happily drink up to achieve a healthy complexion. Often formulated without synthetic fragrances or harsh alcohols, these toners are a winner for sensitive skin. COSRX's Centella Water Alcohol-Free Toner exemplifies this, offering soothing and healing effects, prepping the skin perfectly to absorb subsequent serums and treatments.

Vegan Korean Serums and Essences

Serums and essences are the heart of a vegan Korean skincare routine, offering a highly concentrated burst of active ingredients tailored to various skin concerns. Korean beauty brands have curated a range of vegan serums and essences that cater to hydration, brightening, and anti-aging needs without using animal derivatives. The Rovectin Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion melds the hydrating power of a toner with the revitalizing capabilities of an essence – all in a cruelty-free formula. Likewise, Superegg's Sound Renewal Moisturizer presents a vegan, egg-inspired essence that feeds the skin essential nutrients for a supple, healthy complexion. Ensure your serums contain hyaluronic acid to help hold onto the moisture from your moisturizer.

Vegan Korean Moisturisers

Moisturizers seal the deal. Vegan Korean skincare moisturizers such as Pyunkang Yul's Nutrition Cream harness the power of natural and refined ingredients for irritated skin to provide a fortification for the skin's barrier. These moisturizers deliver hydration without weighing on the conscience. I'm From's Vitamin Tree Water Gel is an example of a lightweight yet hydrating option that caters to all skin types seeking the right balance between nourishment and a non-greasy finish. This will help achieve a glowing complexion.

Vegan Korean Sunscreens

Now if I were to recommend that any one item out of your skincare routine is from a Korean brand, it’d be your SPF. They have some of the best formulations of SPF that are light on the skin, wear well under makeup, and have a high rating. I love the Aloe Soothing Sunscreen SPF50 by COSRX and the Thank You Farmer Skin Relief Sun Cream SPF50. Stick to your sunscreens for a youthful complexion.

Other Vegan Korean Skincare Products for a Complete Routine

To enrich the vegan skincare lineup further, products such as exfoliators, masks, and sunscreen play significant roles but be careful not to include too many exfoliators if you have irritated skin. Klairs' Youthful Glow Sugar Mask offers exfoliation with a dose of soothing care, keeping the vegan promise. Sunscreens such as Thank You Farmer's Sun Project Water Sun Cream provide broad-spectrum protection with a lightweight feel, ensuring that your skin is shielded from the sun's rays without any animal ingredients.

Tips for Targeting Specific Skin Concerns with Vegan Korean Skincare

Plant Based Skincare
  • Sensitive Skin: Opt for vegan products with natural ingredients and botanical extracts, avoiding irritants like fragrance, alcohol, AHAs, BHAs and sulfates. You might also want to look for soothing ingredients like Aloe Vera, Centella and Green tea extract. 
  • Irritated Skin: Like sensitive skin, focus on repairing the skin’s barrier with calming ingredients like Centella and Green tea extract. 
  • Dry Skin: Look for vegan formulations rich in plant-based oils and humectants that offer deep hydration and include Hyaluronic acid to help hold onto moisture.
  • Combination/Oily Skin: Choose lightweight vegan moisturizers and serums that provide balance without clogging pores. Gel based formulations are a great choice.
  • Aging Concerns: Seek out vegan products with antioxidants and plant-derived actives known to support skin elasticity and combat premature aging like Vitamin C. 
  • Dull skin: If you’re seeking that radiant complexion, you’ll need to ensure you’re exfoliating so look for products contain natural fruit AHAs, glycolic and lactic acids.
  • Dark Circles: You’ll need to look out for brightening ingredients like Vitamin C.

By incorporating these tailored tips into your vegan Korean skincare routine and staying vigilant about product ingredients, you can ensure your skincare practices not only fit your vegan lifestyle but are also highly effective for radiant skin.

Step-by-step Guide to a Vegan Korean Skincare Routine

Plant Based Skincare
  1. Cleansing: Start with a gentle, vegan cleanser like Klairs' Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser to remove impurities without stripping the skin of its natural oils for radiant skin.
  2. Toning: Apply a vegan toner such as COSRX's Centella Water Alcohol-Free Toner to balance the skin's pH and enhance absorption of following treatments while working on congested pores.
  3. Serums and Essences: Use targeted solutions like Rovectin Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion or Superegg's Sound Renewal Moisturizer for specific skincare needs, including Hyaluronic acid to hold moisture from the next step.
  4. Moisturizing: Seal in moisture and protect the skin barrier with a cream such as Pyunkang Yul's Nutrition Cream, providing deep hydration with clean ingredients.
  5. Sun Protection: Finish off with a vegan sunscreen like Thank You Farmer's Sun Project Water Sun Cream to shield skin from harmful UV rays.

Final Thoughts on Vegan Korean Skincare

Embracing vegan Korean skincare products is a wonderful way to blend innovative beauty rituals with ethical choices. From gentle cleansers and nourishing serums to hydrating masks and protective sunscreens, there's a vegan Korean skincare product to meet every need. By making these compassionate choices, you're not only caring for your skin but also supporting cruelty-free and sustainable practices. Here's to glowing skin and a kinder world!