Your Vegan K-Beauty Guide
How to get a plant-based beauty routine right
Vegan and plant-based skincare, makeup and even haircare is big in Korea.
“Koreans are very aware about the ingredients and quality of products they’re putting on their skin and hair and believe that plant-based and vegan products are more gentle to skin. This is why vegan products are more popular than ever,” says Jin Kwon, founder of TONIC15.
Finding beauty products that are just as effective as they are kind to skin is easy when it comes to K-beauty. Known for its emphasis on technology and innovation, the Korean beauty industry is at the forefront of vegan and plant-based beauty too. So, whether you want a routine to fit in with your vegan lifestyle or you simply want an animal-friendly skin, hair and makeup routine, there are a myriad of options to choose from.
Here, we share everything you need to know about vegan skincare, makeup and haircare and how to give your beauty routine a plant-based overhaul…
What is vegan beauty?
You don’t need to be a vegan to opt for vegan or plant-based beauty products. You can include vegan products in your skincare regime whatever your lifestyle choice. Simply put, vegan or plant-based beauty products don’t contain any animal ingredients or by-products - think milk, honey, beeswax, lanolin (from sheep’s wool) and gelatine for instance.
What’s the difference between vegan and cruelty-free products?
When you read that a brand is cruelty-free this means that it does not test any of its products on animals. On the other hand, if a brand claims to be vegan its products must not be formulated with any ingredient that comes from an animal. To ensure a vegan skincare product hasn’t undergone some form of animal-testing, check a reputable website (like Tonic15.com) or the specific brand website to read its product claims. Most brand will want to shout about being cruelty-free as well as being vegan. You can also look out for the Leaping Bunny logo, a certification that shows the product is cruelty-free.
What are the benefits of using vegan beauty products?
When using vegan beauty products, people often say they tend to have fewer skin sensitivities. This is because vegan products tend to contain fewer ingredients than their non-vegan counterparts. So, there’s less chance for your skin to be irritated. If you have problematic or overreactive skin, a vegan skincare regime is often a good choice. Same goes for sensitivities to makeup products – choosing vegan cosmetics could help minimise your skin’s reactions.
That’s not to say that vegan beauty products aren’t as effective as others. Advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering in the beauty space mean that ingredients like squalene and collagen can be created from other sources while still producing the same results as their animal-based versions.
What are the best vegan skincare ingredients?
Some of our favourite skincare ingredients are naturally vegan. Here we share our top 4…
• CENTELLA ASIATICA
This popular ingredient has long been used for its ability to truly calm skin, which is why it’s become a staple ingredient in modern K-beauty skincare products. It’s rich in triterpenoids saponins, the bioactive compounds of the plant that boast a myriad of skin benefits. For instance, Centella Asiatica works wonders to help calm and diminish redness while improving hydration by reducing water loss from the surface of the skin. It’s not just ideal for dry, red or stressed skin either. It has antibacterial properties so can heal and prevent blemishes while also helping to regulate the skin’s oil production.
is a traditional medicinal herb. It supports skin by increasing the production of proteins that help form the skin’s barrier. This leads to fewer ‘holes’ in the barrier, helping skin to retain water more effectively, which in turn reduces dryness, redness and irritation. Your skin will ultimately feel and look healthier. Mugwort is also an excellent antioxidant and is brilliant for acne-prone, mature, sensitive and dry skin.
• HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA
Also known as Heartleaf, this potent extract is great if you suffer from blemishes or breakouts because it offers anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. At the same time, it gently regulates sebum production. You’ll also get hydrating benefits so if you’ve got irritated, problematic skin, this extract will help to soothe and calm while preventing more spots from cropping up.
• TEA TREE OIL
is probably most well-known for effectively treating mild to moderate acne. It’s naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial so it works to decrease bacteria on the skin’s surface. But what’s most unique about it is that it’s also great at treating dry skin. Dry skin is often irritated and inflamed or the result of a compromised skin barrier and Tea Tree Oil works to both calm and soothe skin here.
What are the best vegan beauty brands?
There are so many vegan beauty brands on the market so here at TONIC15 we sort through the noise and choose the most effective, kind-to-skin products for you. A few of our favourites feature below…
makeup offers gorgeous vegan lip, eye and foundation formulas in shades that pack a punch.
packs its products with all vegan formulas that feature their signature ingredient of Green Coffee Bean Oil extract which is loaded with antioxidants.
offers vegan, cruelty-free and silicone-free hair solutions.
ISOI is a natural skincare brand that’s all about high-quality vegan ingredients cocktailed in the right way. This way you’re guaranteed formulas that are not only effective but work to heal, soothe and return skin to its natural lustre. It’s no wonder the brand boasts one of the best-selling serums in Korea!
offers single-ingredient vegan formulas featuring the highest-quality botanical ingredients to treat all types of skin types and concerns, including sensitive and irritated. What’s unique to the brand is how you can truly bespoke your own skincare regime using the potent extracts and serums.