At-home skin care is evolving more than ever as facial creams are getting borderline therapeutic.

An increasing number of pharmaceutical firms are branching out into the cosmetics business, aiming to apply therapeutic science, such as stem cell, probiotics and microbiome, to help treat skin trouble and aging.

For biotechs, it is a way of making use of their factory production lines that can double as a cosmetics manufacturing site when operation rate is low and to secure cash flows during the long, costly and risky novel-drug development.

“Cosmetics have lower entry barrier in terms of regulations, compared to pharmaceuticals. As pharmaceuticals are difficult for immediate commercialization, many firms take to cosmeceuticals for more fluid cash flows,” the Korea Health Industry Development Institute’s pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals team leader Jeon Hwan-ju told The Korea Herald.

Leading this marriage of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, dubbed cosmeceutical, are DongKook Pharmaceutical, Il Dong Pharmaceutical, Tego Science, Hugel, Daewoong Pharmaceutical, to name a few. 

DongKook Pharmaceutical’s Centellian24 centella asiatica cream

DongKook Pharmaceutical’s Centellian24 centella asiatica cream

DongKook Pharmaceutical’s Centellian24 cream launched in 2015 and has sold over 8 million by 2019. The cream has 10,000 parts per million of centella asiatica that the company says can calm, nourish, and help stall aging.

Centellian24 is perhaps more referred to as “madeca cream,” after DongKook Pharmaceutical’s representative healing ointment Madecassol, which is a go-to household cure in Korea to help heal cuts and wounds.

Il Dong Pharmaceutical’s First Brand probiotics serum and mask

Il Dong Pharmaceutical’s First Brand probiotics serum and mask

Il Dong Pharmaceutical’s First Lab cosmeceutical brand uses probiotics in its serum.

This is only apt for the first Korean company that has developed probiotic pharmaceuticals. Il Dong has over 70 years of history in probiotics with more than 3,000 types of lactobacillus in its Ildong Culture Collection.

Il Dong’s First Lab’s main product is a probiotic serum that has 46,201 ppm of lactobacillus ferment solution.

In a clinical trial conducted on a modest number of 21 grown-ups, the serum could remove signs of freckles and pigmentation three times more effectively than average rate. Il Dong Pharmaceutical says it has used its Plus Some technology to the serum so that good probiotics can penetrate the skin barrier better.

Tego Science’s subsidiary Cutigen Laboratories’ stem cell skin care line Act I Scene V

Tego Science’s subsidiary Cutigen Laboratories’ stem cell skin care line Act I Scene V

Tego Science is first and foremost a stem cell therapy company that seeks to treat burn wounds with stem cells. The company uses both the patients’ autologous stem cell and allogenic stem cell bank for its treatment solutions.

Its unlisted subsidiary Cutigen Laboratories leverages the parent company’s expertise to its Act I Scene V skin care brand, using the same skin stem cell ingredient used for Tego Science’s burn wound treatment Kaloderm.

Hugel and Daewoong Pharmaceutical, botulinum toxin makers, have made forays into the market with their own accumulated know-how.

Hugel’s PR4 Cream MD

Hugel’s PR4 Cream MD

Hugel’s PR4 Cream MD, launched in August 2020, has high ambitions to become a pioneer in the therapeutic cosmetics market.

Its name — PR4 – stands for proven, prime, promotive and professional.

The speed at which a damaged skin repairs itself depends on the vivacity of the extra cellular matrix, according to Hugel.

The company developed its original H.ECMTM liposome for the PR4 Cream MD, which is comprised of the three main constituents of extra cellular matrix, the hyaluronic acid, collagen and proteoglycan.

The PR4 Cream MD falls under the category of wet-to-moist dressing for wounds. It can be used to treat extremely dry skin, and skin barrier damaged by atopic allergy. It has gained a second-grade medical device certification from the National Institute of Medical Device Safety Information.

Daewoong Group affiliate DN company’s DW-EGF cream

Daewoong Group affiliate DN company’s DW-EGF cream

Daewoong Group affiliate DN Company has a 2 million-seller DW-EGF cream, EGF being short for epidermal growth factor.

The EGF is a protein that builds up skin, and when applied to face, the protein helps create collagen and enhances elasticity.

The latest DW-EGF Pressome cream especially uses a liposome penetration technology called pressome, which enables 16.9 times more delivery of the beneficial elements to the deeper layer of the skin, according to DN company. Its EGF derma needle comes with a DW-EGF high concentrate ampoule and a micro-needle roller that lightly pricks invisible entry ways on the skin barrier for the ampoule to seep through. The micro-needle melts away after a number of rolls.

Genome&Company’s UIQ skin microbiome essence

Genome&Company’s UIQ skin microbiome essence

Genome&Company, a biotech established in 2015 in pursuit of microbiome therapies for immuno-oncology and cerebral illnesses, is also launching a skin care product.

Microbiomes are beneficial germs that enrich the human organs. While gut microbiomes are what is most commonly studied in this field of research, Genome&Company has applied skin microbiome to its UIQ powder-type essence.

Skin microbiome will help repair, balance and fortify the skin barrier, Genome&Company says.

The company claims that the UIQ powder lands light and pleasantly on the face and later liquefies for absorption in the skin. The unique formation of this essence is being patented.

With well-equipped newcomers making swift advances in the field of cosmetics, conventional behemoths are also gearing up to gain foothold in the market.

Not wanting to lose its edge, Amorepacific has been collaborating with genome analysis company Theragen Bio since 2016.

The result of this alliance is a personalized skin care service dubbed the Iope Lab Geno Index launched in May 2020.

A direct-to-consumer DNA test reveals each individual’s innate skin condition and how they will age as time unfolds.

Should a consumer have strong genetic tendency to develop early-age wrinkles, freckles, acnes or stretch marks, the service offers a personalized skin care regimen targeted at retaining their customers’ youthfulness for a while longer.

Theragen Bio’s direct-to-consumer DNA test can pick up 13 types of genetic information linked to the skin.

By Lim Jeong-yeo ([email protected])