September 07, 2013 00:00 By Bunlong Cheng
Like other Asian enterprises, the health and beauty industry is modernising, not only in Thailand, but also in other Asian countries, where investments in cosmetics are expected to create positive outcomes.
To respond to the need for updated technology in this market, Chemico Inter Corporation has joined with French company HelioScreen to bring its in vitro sunscreen-testing programme to Thailand.
“All people want to look good, so cosmetics never have negative growth,” said Waniop Chusattayanond, deputy managing director at Chemico Inter Corp.
In recent years, the cosmetics industry in Thailand has been growing dramatically, playing an important role in the country’s economic growth.
“We are the leader in Asean countries, with a double-digit growth rate. Our export value is about US$3 billion,” or Bt97 billion, said Ketmanee Lertkitcha, president of the Thai Cosmetic Manufacturers Association.
For decades, in vivo methods were employed to evaluate sun-protection solutions. This method simply monitored how long it took for a volunteer to suffer the effects of exposure to the sun with and without application of the protective cream.
Nonetheless, sun protection, which must now also shield people from ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, has become a top concern for most health authorities, and as in vivo testing has raised ethical challenges, there is a growing trend towards in vitro methods.
“People today are very concerned with health, and most of them are the ‘back to nature’ sort. Also in tropical countries like those in Asean, we like to have light skin,” Ketmanee said.
In vitro testing of sunscreen is not new for Thailand, where many laboratories
and agencies have attempted to use it, though with limited success so far. Therefore, it may become a potential market for HelioScreen, which has specialised in this technology for more than 10 years and won ISO (International Organisation of Standardisation) qualification.
“In vitro testing of sunscreen products is not standardised – the results vary from one lab to another,” Waniop said. “We decided that getting into the business of in vitro sunscreen testing could be very good not just in Thailand, but in Asean and other Asian countries as well.”
The new joint-venture company’s name will be HelioScreen Asia, and it will go into operation from October. The company will set up a laboratory in Bangkok that connects and works directly with labs in France. Though based in Thailand, this lab will serve the rest of Asean and other Asian countries.
“I would like to invest in Asia. Thailand belongs to Asian countries and Thailand is a very important country,” said Dr Dominique Lutz, chief executive officer and executive scientist manager at HelioScreen.
When the Asean Economic Community arrives in two years’ time, the cosmetics market will become more competitive, the doors will be open to people in all 10 countries. New technology is needed for Thai cosmetic companies to compete in Asean and the world.
“We have new technology and innovation and everything to compete with. That’s why I said it was important to all Thai industries, especially cosmetics, that we are up to the standard and can compete with the world,” Ketmanee said.