COSRX is a mainstay in the Korean Beauty scene and an increasingly popular global brand. But is it cruelty-free and vegan?

COSRX is cruelty-free but not 100% vegan, meaning some products contain animal-derived ingredients. It does not conduct animal testing on its products or distribute cosmetics where animal testing is required by law.
This skincare brand's best-selling line is filled with snail mucus.

Launched in 2013, COSRX combines the best cosmetics with prescriptive skincare (Rx) to help customers with individual skincare needs and concerns. They believe cosmetics are about more than what we see; it’s about confidence.

But before you get too excited about buying these innovative products – you need to understand what you’re buying into (and sorry if you're squeamish).
COSRX Cruelty-Free Beauty

COSRX's Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: Yes

Vegan: No (COSRX has vegan options)

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: Minimal efforts

Mica Mining Policy: Undetermined 

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Undetermined

COSRX is 100% Cruelty-Free

Test any of its products or ingredients on animals


Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain


Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.


AMOREPACIFIC, a company that is known to allow animal testing when required by law, bought a 38,4% stake in COSRX in 2021.

Does COSRX Test on Animals?

COSRX says very little publicly about their animal testing policies. It's opted to only sell in China online, which means it sidesteps the animal testing requirements.

What Is COSRX's Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?

It would be great if COSRX added an official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products to its website

We contacted them, and unfortunately, did not receive any response. 

OGX directs potential customers to this page by Johnson & Johnson, which states, "continue to advanced non-animal-testing methods and…eliminate testing on animals globally”. But it avoids speaking about choosing to sell in China.

COSRX Has No Cruelty-Free Certification.

Seeing a multi-million dollar brand that could easily be certified and claims to make “cruelty-free products” do so without any backing – we have to ask ourselves why?

Ideally, all brands that consider themselves cruelty-free should be Leaping Bunny certified.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn't hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations. Leaping Bunny certification is the gold standard to live up to.

Did you know that in the US, most animal testing is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (1966)? If you did know this, did you know that this act does not include birds, rats, and mice which make up 95% of animals used in research?

Is CORSX Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

COSRX does not distribute any of its products in brick-and-mortar stores in China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

COSRX have confirmed that they sell products to customers in China using the cross-border e-commerce site TMall. This bypasses the need for animal testing. 

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes.

Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

COSRX is Not Vegan

COSRX has very few vegan products from which to choose because most of their product ranges center on animal-based ingredients. 

Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that COSRX uses are honey, beeswax, propolis, snail mucin 

If you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading.

What COSRX Products Are Vegan?

COSRX seems obsessed with animal-based ingredients and only has two vegan products to choose from. 

Vegetarians fair better with COSRX, but it’s not great news if you’re vegan. Here are those two vegan options:

  • Balancium Comfort Ceramide Soft Cream Sheet Mask
  • Pure Fit Cica Low pH Cleansing Pad

Unfortunately, COSRX does not have a dedicated page for its vegan products. 

However, you can email customer service, and they will send you an extensive list of exactly what you want to know.

You can also scroll through COSRX’s website and see which vegan products once you've selected them. 

Vegan Alternatives to COSRX


price range

100% vegan


$5 - $15


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$20 - $50


Leaping Bunny

$4 - $24


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$5 - $70


Leaping Bunny

$15 - $30


Leaping Bunny

COSRX is Not Considered Natural, and Organic

COSRX isn’t considered natural or organic. 

Like many other K-Beauty brands, it does use many natural ingredients from organic sources. This is indicated on the products page once you click on it. 

COSRX prioritizes safe, simple, and clean ingredients. 

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas.

COSRX is no exception – but it does choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it means it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

A few naturally-derived ingredients COSRX uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Snail Mucin moisturizes skin, boosts tissue regeneration by promoting collagen production, and is suitable for all skin types.

    COSRX states that no snails are harmed in the manufacture of their products but doesn’t go into further detail to back that claims up.
  • Ceramides are lipids (or fats) found in skin cells. Ceramides ‘hold together’ the topmost layer of skin and keep any environmental nasties out.

    Including them in your skincare protects and repairs the skin barrier, which boosts hydration, speeds up healing, and improves texture.
  • Cica is also called tiger grass, gotu kola or pennywort and has anti-inflammatory benefits that soothe redness.

    Another K-Beauty favorite, cica is also said to boost skin regeneration and speed up healing. 

COSRX Has An 91% Allergen-Free Ranking

According to Skin Safe, COSRX has a 91% allergen-free ranking for each product.

COSRX’s products are free of allergens such as parabens, lanolin, coconut, topical antibiotics, MCI/MI, nickel, gluten, oil, dyes, and SLS. 

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because COSRX is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs. 

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

We don’t want to scare you, but you HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States. The reason why will shock you.

The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Luckily, COSRX sets a great example of what true clean beauty is meant to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.

With skincare, you want to avoid these ingredients:

  • Ethanolamine compounds (DEA, MEA, and TEA)
  • Ethoxylated ingredients (PEG, PPG, polysorbate)
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, aka teflon®)
  • Propylene glycol (pg) & butylene glycol
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Triclosan

COSRX Is Not Sustainable and Ethical

COSRX does not mention any sustainability and ethical initiatives on their website. We also checked their Instagram but only found a product giveaway in celebrating Earth Day. 

COSRX’s only sustainable and ethical efforts are being cruelty-free, although not certified. They also claim to source ingredients through non-harmful means but don’t have a membership to any third-party regulators that would confirm this. 

Final Thoughts

While CORX is one of the few K-beauty brands that is cruelty-free, its lack of certification and limited selection of vegan options is unimpressive. 

Without transparency about sustainability or ethics, it’s difficult to trust the brand as anything other than effective. 

From formulas to packaging, clarity of responsible sourcing to getting cruelty-free accreditation- there are so many improvements for COSRX to make. 

We didn’t hear back from COSRX about any of our queries. Hopefully, with the shift of consumers asking conscious questions and expecting more from brands, we’ll start to see that improvement.

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