Tony Moly’s biggest appeal is its cute packaging and being an affordable Korean skincare brand in the west, but behind the cute aesthetic, its cruelty-free and vegan policies are a bit of a letdown.
Tony Moly 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.
They aren’t the most popular in Korea, but their seriously cute packaging and affordability have made them a real hit in the west.
But beyond all the cute colorful plastic packaging (that’s honestly bigger than the actual product itself), we have a brand that has barely dipped its toe into the sustainability and ethical department. There are lots left to do.
Tony Moly Ethical Overview
Tony Moly 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.
Tony Moly is cruelty-free and has the certification to prove it.
The brand is also not owned by big corporations with differing cruelty-free policies.
Does Tony Moly Test on Animals?
Tony Moly is clear that, currently, they do not test on animals in any stage of the manufacturing and distribution process.
They used to state that only products in the USA weren’t tested on animals (a bit concerning), but they’ve recently gotten certification from PETA and updated their statement, so they are now officially 100% cruelty-free.
What Is Tony Moly’s Cruelty-Free Status in 2023?
Here is a screenshot of Tony Moly’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:
Tony Moly is PETA Certified
PETA is a good first step, but certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal because it holds rigorous standards, and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.
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.
Leaping Bunny certification proves that:
Is Tony Moly Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?
Tony Moly does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.
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?
Tony Moly is Not Vegan
While Tony Moly is 100% cruelty-free, the brand is still not 100% vegan. They offer some vegan products, but you’ll have to look for them on their website.
Some of the most common animal-derived ingredients that Tony Moly uses are honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, and carmine
If you're interested in which products are vegan or finding vegan brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: Tony Moly vegan products.
What Tony Moly Products Are Vegan?
Tony Moly offers a couple of vegan products on their website to choose from, and they aren’t that difficult to find.
But to save you some time, here are some of Tony Moly’s most popular and award-winning products to choose from:
Vegan Alternatives to Tony Moly
$5 - $15
PETA, Leaping Bunny
$20 - $50
$20 - $50
PETA, Leaping Bunny
$10 - $50
$30 - $80
PETA, Leaping Bunny
Tony Moly is Not Considered Natural, and Organic
Tony Moly isn’t considered natural or organic.
You’ll find some natural ingredients infused in the products, but they’ve prioritized the aesthetic of the packaging and effectiveness of the product over having a high percentage of natural or organic ingredients.
All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. Tony Moly 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.
Tony Moly Has A 91% Allergen-Free Ranking
According to Skin Safe; Tony Moly has a 91% allergen-free ranking for each product.
Many of Tony Moly’s products are free of allergens such as gluten, nickel, top common allergy-causing preservatives, lanolin, parabens, topical antibiotic, MCI/MI, soy, oil, dye, and SLS.
Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Tony Moly 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, Tony Moly 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:
Tony Moly Is Not Sustainable, and Ethical
Tony Moly doesn’t currently support any ethical causes.
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.
When it comes to sustainability, Tony Moly hasn’t shared any initiatives or pledges to be more environmentally conscious. It’s safe to assume nothing is in the works in that department.
Anyone can appreciate a cute container shaped like animals and fruit. However, it’s still an unnecessary amount of additional virgin plastic going to the landfill at the end of the day.
Korean skincare is flooding the market, and Tony Moly is a popular brand riding that wave. With their cute packaging and affordable products that are cruelty-free, too, it’s easy to see why they’ve become so popular worldwide.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them the most sustainable or ethically aware brand on the market. They may have cruelty-free certification with PETA, but that’s only the first step, and honestly, it’s not enough.
It would be great to see a more transparent brand that is actively taking steps even just to be aware of the effect they have on the environment.
There’s only so much you can hide behind cute packaging. As consumers, we need to stand for what we believe in and make sure brands like Tony Moly know what we expect from them (even if it seems unlikely they will change anything).