Interview: The trend of Chinese cosmetic ingredients from Ashland perspective

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Win in efficacy, welcome the future. On September 22, The 5th CHAILEEDO Conference on China’s Cosmetic Trends hosted by CHAILEEDO was held in Hangzhou.

Ashland is a leading global specialty materials company. We invited Mr. Ling Feng, Director, Asia Pacific Business Development, Functional Ingredients, Personal Care, to discuss the market trend of efficacy products in China with us.

Q: First of all, you also mentioned in your speech that emotional beauty is the future trend in cosmetics, what do you think are the characteristics of consumers in this trend?

A: First of all, consumers must have a very strong resonance and their understanding of cosmetics is not limited to moisturizing or whitening or the visible effects. It prefers to use cosmetics, especially efficacy cosmetics, as emotionally related to this content. He wants to see cosmetics, especially efficacious cosmetics, as an emotionally relevant content. This is not a new trend. But we observe that as the science improves and there are more and more things support, it will be a real breaking point. In the past, the factors that many consumers actually bought or keep buying a cosmetics are attracted by its color, smell or touch. That factors of repurchase comes from his use.

Cosmetics needs to be used for 28 days before the efficacy can be seen. But few people sum it up that my liking for the fragrance is related to my emotions. But if there are newer or better scientific means to discern, for example, there are some fragrance companies who use brain wave testers. When I see this skincare product, when I see its color and packaging appearance, my brain waves are in an excited, active or optimistic state. Then we will start from this improvement of emotions to make a relevant judgment. I believe that as technology gets deeper and deeper and consumers are able to communicate and be educated.

We are all putting effort into improving (the degree of consumer education). Let the emotional beauty or efficacy real. And the combination should be visible then more and more consumers will like it.

Q: What do you think will be the characteristics of cosmetic research and development under this trend?

A: I think innovation requires perseverance, sensitivity and love for research, especially for original and start-up brands.

As the originality of ingredients you mentioned, we know that Ashland has also developed some ingredients in recent years. Can you give us a look (how did Ashland develop the ingredients?)

The first one is whether there is a clear mechanism. The second is how do I extract what I need in a green and sustainable way and get a stable output. The third part is, what means do I use to verify its effectiveness. Finally it completes a good scientific communication with consumers, or communication. These three are actually indispensable for us.

Q: What advantages do you think artificial intelligence can offer in the development of cosmetic ingredients?

A: Time saving and clearer understanding. AI in the design of efficacy ingredients is actually taking 90% of the experiments done by humans and using computer AI to simulate them through big data retrieval. It has done most of the predictive work. Human only need to spend the last 10% to do the efficacy verification or in vitro or human testing. So he can greatly save our time and the speed of R&D can be increased. Secondly, through artificial intelligence, we can often find a mutation or hidden characteristic in the process of upgrading the dimensionality from micro to macro.

It is very difficult to construct a mutation or hidden characteristic only by human drawing or brain. But we can make full use of such an evolving science. From the combination of big data science, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, it can help us explore new active ingredients or efficacy ingredients faster and better.

Q: We also understand that Ashland’s headquarters is now located in Shanghai and has set up two R&D centers. What are the opportunities and challenges that Ashland is facing with the trend of localization?

A: As an international company, Ashland is still very optimistic about the Chinese market. Because we have smooth communication with Chinese consumers. In addition, Chinese consumers are the strongest and fastest in accepting new ideas, high-tech science communication, or receiving new things in the world. So we are very optimistic about the Chinese market.

In addition to our R&D center, in addition to making Shanghai the center of the whole Asia Pacific region, we will also set up a new biofunctional ingredients factory in China except our existing factory in Nanjing. This move is probably the first of its kind among raw material manufacturers. From R&D to production, we will use Chinese herbal and plant resources to provide more and better and unique solutions to our customers in China and even in Asia Pacific.



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