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Part.3_Ep. 01 <Beauty Activism>Cosmetic companies taking a stance

>> Continued from Part.2

NH Kim: We have looked into various forms of beauty activism, but since we are a raw material company that mainly supplies preservatives, I think there is a lot to say about that. Last time, JH Park was concerned about the fact that “our raw materials are guaranteed for a certain period of time, but within that period, other factors may intervene in the distribution process or the finished product production process.” Since we cannot anticipate all such cases, at least what criteria do we use to guarantee the product?

JH Park: At first, when the initial production begins with the data provided by R&D center, we test the quality of the product over time from one week to one month. Second, we put it outside for 2 nights and 3 days to test the stability to see if there are any changes to the product when exposed to high temperatures and sunlight. Also, for the products we often ship out, we put them out in their packaging for up to two years and test whether there is any change in quality. After all these data are accumulated, we guarantee that it is ‘stable within a certain period of time’ by documenting it. We need as many tests as possible, until exporting one product.

NH Kim: Wow~ I didn't know you were doing it for 2 years. When it comes to packaging, do you mean the packaging we deliver?

JH Park: Yes, we are checking it by putting it in our sample room as it is, or putting it on the rooftop where it is exposed to light or rain and wind.

NH Kim: Then, have there been any claims that have been received within the guaranteed period so far?

JH Park: Usually, when a claim comes in within the warranty period, it is often because of a problem caused by incorrect storage conditions or insufficient management by the user. Moisture or impurities may enter during sampling, and then corrosion occurs inside the can, resulting in deterioration.

NH Kim: Did we make these tests ourselves? Or is there a common standard or law...?

JH Park: It is carried out in a way that the customer receives and inspects it. A room temperature test, a constant temperature test at 50 degrees, a warming test at 80 to 100 degrees, and a sunlight test are conducted.

JH Jeon: As far as I know, the stability of cosmetics is usually tested up to 50 degrees.

JH Park: We sell raw materials, so I know they are tested under harsher conditions.

NH Kim: Customers who purchased these raw materials can boil them and add them.

JH Park: That's right, because we don't know how the process will go. We don't know how they will be stored. If it is exported overseas, the process can be affected again. Even if only a small amount is used, the entire finished product may be deteriorated by our product, so we conduct several tests to ensure stability before sending it.

JH Jeon: Do you test the pH as well?

JH Park: yes. We are testing various items including pH. In particular, since the main thing to see is the smell, we do another odor test after the stability test. Smell is important in cosmetics.

NH Kim: This doesn't have to be the answer, but like I said last week, what do you think about cosmetics that don't contain preservatives and have a short shelf life?

JH Park: Well, wouldn't it be okay for consumers to use it within the expiration date?

JH Jeon: If the storage period is short, the number of purchases increases, and then the carbon footprint also increases, doesn't it? I don't think there's any reason to avoid it if it's a preservative with guaranteed safety, unless you have very sensitive skin. Rather, in my case, maybe it's because my skin isn't sensitive, so I just use it if my skin doesn't have any problems even after the expiration date.

NH Kim: And this naturalistic trend itself is a bit contradictory, I look for things that are good for people, don't test on animals, and are good for nature, but as I said before, if you don't use preservatives, the frequency of purchases increases, and then you'll use that much packaging, too. But do we make it at home? Yes, it is possible, in fact, there are people like this. Purchasing raw materials and blending as needed at that time... The customized cosmetics market is definitely growing, and there are subscription models. I've been looking for examples from overseas for a long time, and there is a line called Raw from the French brand Typology. There was a mask pack kit composed of various powders, so it was prepared and used according to the temperature, humidity, and skin condition of the day., But to do that, the user must have all the ingredients suitable for his or her skin condition...

Recently, when I went back to the website, the line seemed to have disappeared. I don't think it would have been easy to maintain.

Typology Website

JH Jeon: These days, as the personalization market grows, there are many services that diagnose skin and manufacture cosmetics suitable for consumers.

NH Kim: Yes, there is such a product that diagnoses and ships weekly based on that data as a subscription. It's good for individuals, but we can't ignore packaging waste and carbon emissions in the shipping process.

MD Kim: Do you also use a shampoo bar?

NH Kim: I haven't tried the bar type products. I think it's difficult to dry well so that it doesn't come loose after use. Even more so when traveling. I think we can try this only if we put up with some inconvenience.

MD Kim: After the first meeting, we all wrote down what we were going to say and cheated on it… I can't find the timing to say this.

NH Kim: Oh, I also have a notebook I've been organizing, but the words keep getting longer, so I don't know where to go. But direction doesn't matter! We're just chatting, and letting people know we're thinking about this.

MD Kim: This activism eventually goes hand in hand with ESG management. Of course, small companies also do it voluntarily. However, as global cosmetics companies declare ESG management, it seems that it has become a ‘must have’ flow by raising the standard for passing audits to suppliers who supply raw materials and subsidiary materials. A raw material company like us needs to develop raw materials that meet this requirement, but in some cases it takes 2-3 months to several years to develop cosmetic ingedients. In order to keep up with the latest trends, it is necessary to prepare at least several months in advance, but I think that the needs of clients are becoming more and more demanding in line with increasingly demanding consumers.

It is constantly being mentioned, but brand companies require 100% natural origin, and certification for this is also required. There are many customers who demand non-animal test, GMO-free, and microplastic-free certificates as well as ECOCERT, organic, and vegan certifications. From the standpoint of developing raw materials, ESG should be considered from the stage of selecting raw materials, such as what the origin of these raw materials is and whether GMO plants were not used, rather than simply selecting natural extracts and naturally derived raw materials.

NH Kim: Microplastic free? Vegan is certified by commissioned by the Vegan Certification Authority. Who certifies microplastic-free?

MD Kim: I don't know the details, but maybe there is a certification authority.

NH Kim: As we researched for the release of Activonol-WO, there was a lot of discussion about surfactants among consumers. I am also a mother raising a child, so I have experienced buying products because I was fascinated by the phrase surfactant-free and coconut-derived surfactant. I heard a lot of urban myth such as ‘The surfactant in shampoo is absorbed by the scalp and goes to the uterus in 5 minutes. When the lump on the uterus is removed in the operating room, it smells like shampoo.”

In fact, as far as I know, the irritation of a surfactant depends more on whether it is anionic/cationic or nonionic/amphoteric rather than natural or synthetic. What do you think of potentially hazardous substances that come with the word natural? How should we respond from the standpoint of making raw materials?

MD Kim: This is very difficult. Researchers at manufacturers ask for it because it appeals to consumers anyway, and from the point of view of developing raw materials, we have to make it natural somehow to meet the unit price as requested by the customer, and only use processes that meet the standards. I think it's too difficult. In order to match the unit price with natural origins with the same efficacy as synthetic.

NH Kim: Consumers’ choices would be a bit different if there was time to explain things that are all synthetic but turn out to be harmless, and that they are naturally derived but are toxic or harmful due to by-products generated in the process. I don't think it's just a comfortable approach to marketing.

<To be continued...> *This manuscript was also published on The K Beauty Science website.

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