If you're one of the many people who has switched (or wants to switch) to an all natural beauty routine, you don't have to miss out on Korean beauty and skincare products. But finding natural Korean beauty products can take a bit of extra effort because labeling can be inconsistent and claims of "natural" ingredients or "cruelty-free" products don't have to be certified by an independent regulatory agency. (This, it should be noted, isn't a problem unique to Korean cosmetics, and labels like "cruelty-free" don't have legal definitions in the United States either, while "natural" can mean a whole bunch of things, depending on the brand. Generally, though, the "all-natural" term refers to products that don't use synthetic chemicals.)
Fortunately for those looking to make ethical and eco-friendly cosmetic purchases from Korea, there are big-name Korean brands that do not test their products on animals. In fact, one of country's largest cosmetics companies AmorePacific voluntarily suspended animal testing in 2008; the company's holdings include the popular brands Etude House, IOPE, and Mamonde.
The relative flexibility of words like "cruelty-free" and "natural" means it's important to do your research if you want to understand which companies and brands are just as committed to using all-natural ingredients and creating cruelty-free products as you are to using them. But if you're willing to put in the effort, you can definitely find some great all-natural beauty products from Korea. To get you started, here are seven K-beauty brands making that commitment to be natural.
Established in 2000, Innisfree calls itself Korea's first natural cosmetics brand, and many of its ingredients are inspired by the natural beauty and resources of Jeju Island like volcanic clay or green tea. Though many of the brand's flagship products use ingredients sourced from Jeju, like green tea grown on an organic farm, not all of them are vegan, so make sure you check the labels if that's important to you.
According to Peach And Lily, an online boutique that curates Korean cosmetics, Caolion "was the first brand in Korea to come out with products that did not have coloring, fragrances, or alcohol," and the brand continues to make packs and masks that are free of these additives and focus on all-natural ingredients.
Whamisa describes itself as an "organic fermentation cosmetic brand," and is perhaps best known for its mists and facial spray, neither of which include artificial fragrances or preservatives. Not only are the mists raved about, even being named the fanciest facial spray by Refinery 29, but they're also certified natural by the European trade organization BDIH.
Beyond has a whole eco-beauty philosophy outlined on its website, which includes a strong stance against animal testing and a commitment to using organic and natural ingredients. It makes everything from essences and serums to shampoos and conditioners, all with these guiding eco-friendly principles in mind.
RE:P stands for "Real Elemental Practice," and Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam raved about these toning pads on her blog for their ease of use and efficacy. However, she was even more excited to share the brand's commitment to using organic and natural materials and ingredients, and even "triple confirmed" with the brand that it does not test on animals. Easy-to-use and eco-friendly make a pretty winning combination.
According to the company's website, belif uses no animal origin ingredients and promises never to include dyes or artificial fragrances. Though it's not a super renowned brand, this gel-cream has something of a cult following, receiving pages of rave reviews on Sephora for its ability to quickly moisturize skin without leaving any stickiness or heaviness.
Aromatica is, in many ways, the gold standard for Korean organic and all-natural skincare products. In no small part because it is extremely transparent about its manufacturing practices, even posting proof of its ECOCERT certification on its website. As it explains on site, aromatica is also the only Korean brand to "earn EWG’s Skin-deep Champion Status, an accolade awarded to toxin-free beauty brands." Many of aromatica's products are vegan, and those that are will be clearly marked as such on the website.
You don't have to give up on your all-natural skincare and beauty routine to enjoy Korean beauty products, especially if you know which brands to look out for. If the success of these brands is any indication, we're probably going to see more all-natural Korean beauty products on shelves soon.
Images: thearomatica/Instagram; Courtesy Brands