Self proclaimed ‘Korean holistic skincare’, Sulwhasoo has been a pioneer in Ginseng research for over 50 years and applied what they learnt to the brand.

They have some loved holistic formulas but when it comes to their cruelty-free and vegan policies get ready to be disappointed.

Sulwhasoo is not 100% cruelty-free or vegan as its products are sold where animal testing is required by law. It also cannot be considered vegan as it is not cruelty-free.
Sulwhasoo’s products have been in development since 1966 but they officially launched in 1987. This luxury Korean skincare brand believes in their anti-aging ginseng products to give you all the moisture you could ever ask for.

They have the iconic 10-step Korean skincare routine products which will give you that dewy, glassy skin but is it actually worth the price tag or more importantly – their outdated cruelty-free and vegan policies?
Sulwhasoo cruelty-free shampoo

Sulwhasoo Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: No

Vegan: No (Sulwhasoo cannot be considered vegan if it is not cruelty-free)

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: Moderate efforts

Mica Mining Policy: No

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Yes (through parent company)

Sulwhasoo is Not 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.


Sulwhasoo is not a cruelty-free brand.

The brand is also owned by Amorepacific Corporation which similarly also allows animal testing when it is required by law – so also not cruelty-free.

Does Sulwhasoo Test on Animals?

Sulwhasoo has been around for a long time and have made no steps to consider stopping testing their products on animals.

As they’ve entered the international market they have tried to word their statements carefully. They state that finished products that are sold in North America specifically are not tested on animals.

Of course this means very little when they still allow animal testing in other countries when it’s required by law. They also lack any transparency when it comes to their ingredient suppliers.

What Is Sulwhasoo’s Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?

Here is a screenshot of Sulwhasoo’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:

Sulwhasoo cruelty-free website claim

Sulwhasoo Has No Cruelty-Free Certification

They will never get any certification either when they continue to allow animal testing with the distribution of their products to China.

If they ever decided to update their policies it would be ideal for Sulwhasoo to get 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.

Is Sulwhasoo Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

Yes, Sulwhasoo distributes its products in China, where animal testing on cosmetics is required as products arrive at the border.

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?

Sulwhasoo is Not Vegan

Sulwhasoo does not claim to have any vegan products. But even if they did, it’s hard to consider any of its products that are free of animal-derived ingredients as “vegan” because it’s not 100% cruelty-free.

One of the most common animal-derived ingredients that Sulwhasoo uses is honey. Some other common ingredients to look our for are:  beeswax, collagen, squalane, pearl, snail mucus.   

If you're interested in finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Sulwhasoo vegan products. 

Vegan Alternatives to OGX


price range

100% vegan


$5 - $20


Leaping Bunny

$20 - $50


Leaping Bunny

$20 - $50


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$15 - $40


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$20 - $60


Leaping Bunny

Sulwhasoo is Considered Natural and Organic

Sulwhasoo takes pride in their holistic approach to beauty with natural ingredients. Korean herbal medicinal ingredients play an important role in all of their products

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

Sulwhasoo 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 Sulwhasoo uses to enhance its cosmetics include:

  • Ginseng has become a popular skincare ingredient for its anti-aging properties.

    It will improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while nourishing and moisturising your skin, leaving it dewy and soft.
  • Korean red pine helps reduce moisture loss by strengthening the skin’s barrier. It is packed with antioxidants and has anti-aging properties.
  • Peony extract is very gentle and nourishing, it will soothe and moisturise the skin.

    With the help of its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties it’s great at treating inflammation and irritation.

Sulwhasoo Has A 91% Allergen-Free Ranking

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

Many of Sulwhasoo’s products are free of allergens such as gluten, coconut, nickel, top common allergy causing preservatives, lanolin, paraben, topical antibiotic, MCI/MI, soy, propylene glycol, irritant/acid, dye, and SLS.

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Sulwhasoo 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, Sulwhasoo 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 and cosmetics, 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

Sulwhasoo Is Moderately Sustainable and Ethical

Some of the ethical causes Sulwhasoo supports is cultural preservation and heritage pride.

Donated proceeds to local and global traditional culture preservation activities and donated to Act to Change.

It's no secret that the world has a huge waste problem, and cosmetic brands only make it worse by using unsustainable packaging and harmful ingredients.

Sulwhasoo takes environmental accountability by:

  • Developing formulas that are kinder to the environment.
  • Ensuring that the plastic containers they use are easier to recycle.
  • Reducing their use of virgin plastic and glass in their product and shipping packaging.
  • Using Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil (RSPO certified).
  • Using sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) to create its packaging.
  • Getting low carbon emission-certified for two products where both products reduced waste and carbon dioxide from the ingredients and packaging by 8.9% and 16.8%.
  • Developing some refillable, long-lasting packaging and reduced plastic refills.

Final Thoughts

Sulwhasoo has become a beloved brand since they began almost 40 years ago.

The brand is a luxury when it comes to skincare but some people will gladly hand over the money for their famous ginseng formulas.

Beyond their holistic approach to the popular products, Sulwhasoo could be doing more considering how high end and popular they are worldwide.

Many of the brands policies and initiatives are heavily connected to the parent company, Amorepacific.

It would be nice to see a more transparent and independent approach when it comes to their supply chain, packaging and distribution.

And of course we cannot forget that Sulwhasoo is not in any way cruelty-free or vegan.

They continue to ship to countries that require animal testing by law and there is no sign that they have any interest in stopping.

At this point it seems unlikely that any complaints from their customers will change their policies but we still need to try.

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