Cosmetics & Personal Care

Harnessing the natural vitality of the orient

By Aiden Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Sulwhasoo Science & Heritage Center at Amorepacific's R&D Unit

We speak to Aiden Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Sulwhasoo Science & Heritage Center at Amorepacific's R&D Unit,

We speak to Aiden Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Sulwhasoo Science & Heritage Center at Amorepacific’s R&D Unit, about how the company’s heritage guides its research and development activities in the beauty industry.
Amorepacific is a South Korean beauty and cosmetics conglomerate, operating over 20 health, beauty and personal care brands. Founded in 1945, it is the world’s 12th largest cosmetics company. Focusing on the ‘legacy of Asian beauty’, the company says it strives to share traditional chemistries, merged with cutting-edge technologies, with the world through its various brands. We caught up with Aiden Park, Senior Vice President and Head of Amorepacific’s Sulwhasoo Science & Heritage Center, to find out more.
Q: Amorepacific has a beautiful story of origin – can you share it with us?
Amorepacific’s pursuit of beauty began with the artisanal spirit of Yun Dok-jeong, the mother of Suh Sung-whan, the founder of the company. Yun sold high quality camellia oil at the Chang-seong store and gained wide customer loyalty. Yun instilled the value of using good ingredients to her son, who continued the legacy by establishing Amorepacific, previously named Pacific Chemical. This passion and commitment to vitality of nature is in the company’s DNA and provides a unique foundation that has helped the company lead the global beauty industry.
Q: How has this shaped the company’s R&D focus?
Amorepacific’s R&D focus is found in the innovative technologies and products developed from natural ingredients unique to Asia. At Sulwhasoo Heritage & Science Center, we study treasured botanicals such as ginseng and medicinal plants that have been used in Asia for centuries to gain insights into beauty. We also try to reinterpret and standardize ancient wisdom of these botanical ingredients with modern science and technology. We firmly believe that good products can only come from good ingredients, and our healthy beauty solutions are nature-based.
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Q: Which Asian botanicals are used in your products?
One of our key heritage ingredients is ginseng. Amorepacific started research into ginseng in earnest at the start of the 1960s, amounting to over 50 years of research. In the 2000s, our research on ginseng blossomed into what is called ‘bio-conversion’ technology. This technology uses enzymes to create a high concentration of rare saponin, which only exists in extremely low levels in Ginseng. Amorepacific used this technology to develop products containing rare active saponin, an ingredient found in ginseng with excellent anti-aging and brightening properties.

Amorepacific has since expanded the scope of its research, to studying the efficacy of different parts of ginseng such as the flower, seed, leaves and stem in addition to roots; the delivery mechanisms to the skin such as Ginsenisphere; large-quantity production of rare saponin using bio-conversion technology and its efficacy; studying ginseng cultivation environment and methods. Amorepacific named this technology as ‘Ginsenomics’ and has been able to develop a wide range of high-functioning, high-potency cosmetics products from it.

To this day, Amorepacific continues to deliver ginseng’s vitality and potency to customers worldwide through comprehensive research including: hydroponic cultivation and smart farms, explantation technology that enables consistent production and the creation of high-concentration of ginseng’s core ingredients throughout the year, and metabolomics research to identify ginseng’s singularity.

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Q: What are the benefits of Plum Blossom used by Amorepacific?
Plum blossoms embody the strength that endures the cold winter. After studying plum blossoms for more than 10 years, Amorepacific came up with a paper that substantiates anti-aging efficacies of a plum blossom. This was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, a well-known journal in the field of skin research (see here).

The results demonstrated the regenerative and antioxidant effects of the plum blossom flower, and its ability to overcome ‘skin exhaustion’ were influential enough to feature the cover of the journal. Plum blossom extracts can not only regenerate cell doubling rate but also get rid of ROS that accumulates in mitochondria, protecting collagen and stimulating its production. This ingredient is applied to Sulwhasoo’s Bloomstay Vitalizing line, which was launched in 2018.

Q: Your laboratory in Korea is said to have cutting-edge technology – can you tell us more about this?
Amorepacific was the first to build a cosmetics laboratory in Korea, in 1954. Our founder, Suh Sung-whan, firmly believed that “having a superiority in science and technology will make us a globally leading company.” This belief was the foundation of our success in developing unprecedented beauty categories such as boosting serums, sleeping masks and cushion compacts that have reshaped the global beauty industry in recent years. To develop such singular innovations, our R&D Center carries out a wide array of research, from primary to new material development, even to cultivating methods of our natural ingredients. To retain our strong expertise in Asian botanical research, Amorepacific operates the Sulwhasoo Heritage & Science Center to study ginseng as well as other treasured plants.

Q: What recent products have excited you most and why?
Sulwhasoo is Asia’s leading luxury beauty brand, which uses treasured Asian Botanicals to provide potent beauty solutions. There are two products from this brand that I think are particularly interesting.

  1. Concentrated ginseng Renewing Serum, which uses all of ginseng from leaf, stem, root and seeds. It contains a small and delicate capsule Ginsenisphere, developed by Sulwhasoo’s cutting-edge technology. This capsule effectively delivers precious ginseng seed oil to the skin by melting quickly as you spread it across your face.  
  2. Bloomstay Vitalizing Line, launched last year, had its product assortment developed based on global customers’ sensory preferences. Of these, the Bloomstay Vitalizing Serum is infused with rejuvenating and anti-oxidant energy of plum blossoms, as well as containing components from five germinated fruits and seeds to bring out a healthy glow.

Q: What inspires your R&D focus? How do you decide what to develop next?
Amorepacific has a very customer-centric philosophy. I also believe that all the answers to our questions come from our customers. As a researcher, I always try to think about what our customers would want, and to get inspired through providing new experiences to them, so as to ultimately develop products that are truly valuable.

Q: What does the future hold for Amorepacific?
We aim to reach the next level by expanding our research in biosciences, new material and technology development, as well as combining different technologies. By gaining insights from customer research and establishing that ‘brand singularity’, Amorepacific aims to proactively provide innovative beauty solutions. Furthermore, we aim to continue providing novel value to our customers by combining Asia’s latest expertise in beauty and health with the latest biosciences and digital technology.