If you love animals AND Korean Beauty products, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to give up either to get good cosmetics.

Korean Beauty brands are increasingly making the switch to animal-testing free and South Korea is already in the process of phasing out animal testing – completely – with a bill having entered into force in 2016 that will get rid of animal testing on all cosmetics in Korea by 2018.


Good question.


As many of you know, China has a requirement that products be tested on animals before they are used on people. Many are rightly concerned about Korean beauty companies that sell products in China.

However, there are several ways Korean beauty products make their way to China without necessarily having to be tested on animals:

First, many Korean brands don’t actually have stores in China.

Products often make their way into China through tourist stores in places like Myeong-dong, E-dae, Hongdae and Garosugil in Seoul, where tourists literally haul suitcases of products to ship them home (or back to customers).

There is an increasing trend of Chinese sellers who visit Korea every few months solely for the purpose of buying and sending products back to their Chinese-based customers.

The trend is so widespread you’ll find K-Beauty stores in places like Myeongdong offering customers free suitcases when they spend over a certain amount, just so they can cart their purchases over to the post office or back to the airport!

There are also many wholesale Chinese retailers of Korean cosmetics based out of Korea who cater solely to the Chinese market.

This means that even though the products make their way into China, many of the brands themselves don’t actually maintain an offline store there.

One of the other main ways products get through to China is online. There is no legal requirement in China about selling via e-commerce sites, meaning small orders by Chinese customers to Korean brands can get into China via post.

Similarly, many brands ship to Hong Kong (which has a separate legal regime from the mainland) and distribute their products through resellers, also without the need for them to be tested on animals.

Some brands simply have their products filled and packed in China, which are considered ‘domestic’ Chinese products that don’t need to be tested on animals.

China also established a list of ingredients that can be sold there without the need for animal testing.

This is how many companies (K-Beauty brands included) get around the animal testing requirement to sell in China.



We often get asked how brands are able to obtain cruelty-free certification when their products contain ingredients like snail mucin and bee venom.

The answer is simple: as these ingredients are the by-products produced by snails and bees (and not the animals themselves), as long as the method for collecting them does not harm the animal itself, these ingredients can also be cruelty-free.

Although the specific process used to collect snail mucin varies from breeder to breeder, in general it involves creating an environment that encourages the snails to excrete their mucin, like placing them in a dark room with a mesh. Similarly, bee venom is safely collected by placing a glass pane near the bee’s hive. The bees are inclined to try and sting the glass as it has a very mild electric current, which attracts them. When they sting it, the bees release their venom but their stingers don’t eject, meaning the bees aren’t at all harmed and they don’t die. Research has shown that there is no shortening of the bees’ lifespans when the venom is collected this way.

For more information on snail mucin and bee venom and their collection methods, see our blog posts here and here.


There are far more Korean beauty brands than you might think that don’t test on animals – Belif, Benton, Etude House*, Half Moon Eyes, Hera*, Innisfree*, IOPE*, Klairs, Leaders, Mizon, COSRX, B-Labs (I Am Sorry Just Cleansing), Pyungkang Yul, Thank You Farmer, RE:P, Neogen and ISNTree – just to name a few.

Shopping cruelty-free is important to a lot of you and so STYLE STORY stocks a wide range of brands that are cruelty-free.


Thank You Farmer is a cruelty-free beauty label from South Korea that is founded on the principle of honest, natural beauty. Being a farmer is an honest job and there are no shortcuts when working with nature.

Thank You Farmer makes cosmetics with the heart of a farmer.

In line with this promise, Thank You Farmer products are paraben, sulfate and toxin-free and are also not tested on animals.


Produced by B-LAB, an eco-friendly Korean Beauty company committed to researching and developing the products we need in our bathrooms, “I Am Sorry Just Cleansing” is a range of Korean Beauty cleansers that, in addition to being animal-experiment free, also contain natural ingredients and are ECOCERT approved and EWG Stability approved.


Developed by Korea’s renowned Pyunkang Oriental Medicine Clinic, Pyunkang Yul is a cruelty-free Korean beauty brand that focuses on ingredients from nature.

Based on their natural beauty philosophy, Pyunkang Yul rejects the notion of cosmetics as simply another “shopping” item, and instead carefully select each and every ingredient in their products to ensure they are gentle and safe for skin.

Pyunkang Yul is devoted to creating products that correct and maintain the right balance of oil and moisture in the skin, to ensure skin is optimally balanced.


Benton is a PETA-approved certified cruelty-free Korean beauty label.

In addition, Benton also uses ECOCERT approved ingredients and produces products that contain high percentages of active ingredients while avoiding parabens, mineral oil, alcohol, benzophenone, chemical preservatives and steroids.



If you’re worried about animals testing on your K-Beauty products, you’re not alone.

As the new South Korean legislation comes into force next year, the countdown is on to even more Cruelty-Free K-Beauty brands, and that’s good news for everyone!

STYLE STORY – Your Style, Your Story 


* While these brands have confirmed that all their products Made in Korea are cruelty free we have not been able to confirm the same is true for all products sold into China.