Korean skincare is often associated with the use of plant-based, simplistic ingredients. Here are the best vegan k-beauty skincare brands and products to try.
In January, you may have decided to adopt new lifestyle and eating choices as part of Veganuary. For some of us, we will have decided to continue to live a vegan lifestyle more long-term. Whether you intend to upkeep a vegan lifestyle part-time or more strictly, you may be interested in making the switch to vegan skincare products. If there’s just one thing you identify K-beauty with, it is probably that Korean skincare is predominantly centered around plant-based, simplistic ingredients. Not all the time, but commonly, Korean brands who pride themselves on curating plant-based skincare will make vegan products.
Whilst there is an increasing number of skincare brands striving for a more ethical approach when formulating products, not all cruelty-free brands are necessarily vegan. Furthermore, vegan products may be range exclusive and therefore this doesn’t guarantee the brand is entirely vegan.
For clarification, I have divided this blog post into two sections: Korean brands which only produce vegan products and Korean brands which have some vegan products.
In 2020, this relatively new vegan, cruelty-free and clean beauty brand expanded their product range multiple times over. Barr’s products revolve around Centella Asiatica (Cica) – a herbaceous perennial plant commonly grown in parts of Asia. In skincare it is used as a source of antioxidants which bring skin calming effects and hydration; it also possesses a rich amino acid content.
The Barr Centella Calming Barrier Cream is a notable product for the colder months of the year, as it aims to restore the skin’s moisture barrier which can become compromised when exposed to cold weather conditions. Barr is recognised as a brand for sensitive skin types which are prone to breakouts and have an imbalance of moisture to sebum.
They may only have three products for the time being, but they are paving the way for vegan skincare brands who have been in search of a plant-derived ingredient an alternative to animal-sourced snail mucin. Snail secretion is one of those anti-aging ingredients which to people who aren’t overly familiar with oriental medicine, appears to be ‘strange’. Although if you’ve ever used skincare containing snail mucin, you will have recognised how it greatly improves skin elasticity.
For several years, some Korean beauty brands tried to ensure that the Snail Mucin they use is extracted through a method which isn’t cruel to the animal. On the other hand, other brands were more focused on discovering a non-synthetic and non-snail replacement ingredient which mimics the same sticky, skin firming texture and properties. Some brands are now using fermented Aubergine extracts as a plant-derived mucin, whereas Vegreen are using wild Yam to make their unique toner and serum.
Originally, The Vegan Glow started off as a skincare brand, but also now sell haircare. They believe we do not own animals and therefore do not use animal-derived ingredients in any of their products. Despite it not being a rating, which is officially recognised in accordance with guidelines enforced by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, The Vegan Glow like to clearly indicate that the ingredients they use do not exceed EWG (Environmental Working Group) ratings of 1~2 (low risk ingredients).
Even if EWG ratings as not entirely reputable, consumers do look to this information for guidance. This has led to The Vegan Glow’s good reputation as a brand that is not just vegan, but also a trustworthy clean beauty brand.
As a vegan-certified and natural/clean beauty brand, Sioris – named from the first letters of the words ‘simple’ and ‘original’ – in their own words say they ‘harness the freshness of nature’ in each and every product they produce. They harvest organic seasonal ingredients for their products, preserving and using the ingredients in the shortest time frame possible to conserve their nutrient value and freshness.
Sioris work hard to limit wastage of the produce they cultivate for their skincare products: using all major parts of the plants including the leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. The Sioris ‘Time is Running Out’ Facial Oil Mist is one of their most sold products. It contains a generous 78% of organic fruit water, which is mainly comprised of Green Plum or Yuzu depending on the season.
Despite its widespread popularity, a lot of people don’t realise Dear Klairs is Vegan-friendly. Perhaps this is because originally, they were a 100% vegetarian and cruelty-free brand that were only in the midst of becoming vegan. Dear Klairs have an extensive product line-up. Some honorable mentions are the Dear Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream, Supple Preparation Facial Toner and Midnight Blue Calming Cream. As of Spring 2020, they sold an excess of 1 million bottles of their beloved Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop (serum).
If you head to the ‘Vegan Beauty’ section of leading Asian beauty websites, products from COSRX, IUNIK and Benton dominate the results page. The majority of their products are vegan, with exceptions to their anti-aging and skin firming products which are formulated with honey, propolis, snail mucin, bee pollen, animal collagen/peptides, etc.
Pyunkang Yul, a famous Oriental Clinic in South Korea, for the most part produce commercial skincare that is vegan. However, some of their moisturising creams contain beeswax as a thickening/emollient agent.
All of these brands do a good job of indicating which of their products are vegan. Always refer to official brand websites and registered retailers appointed to give access to proof of vegan certification.
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