Korean beauty products are well known for their unique ideas and ingredients as well as excellent quality. At the InterCHARM Beauty Expo Korea, a global cosmetics and beauty trade show that was held last month, many Korean cosmetic firms showed off their distinctive competitive edge. One of the companies is Celim Biotech, a manufacturer that incorporates fermentation technology into cosmetics products. Let’s meet with company president Kim Jun-wan.

My company produces cosmetics for sensitive skin. Our products focus on treating atopic dermatitis, pimples and sensitive skin. Those who are interested in those skin problems visit our booth. They wonder how natural products can treat skin troubles. They want to test them, saying that products like these are rare and they have found what they were looking for. We’re in the initial stage of exploring markets, so we are discussing with any companies overseas as long as they are interested in our products.

Celim Biotech drew a lot of visitors throughout the three-day expo, which started on November 23. The company was set up in 2015, but it has been dedicated to research on natural fermentation for more than 10 years.

It’s been less than three years since my company was created, but we started research and development ten years ago. Many children suffering from atopic dermatitis tend to scratch a lot and often hurt their skin. Pimples are an irritating skin condition that affects many teenagers, while those in their 30s and 40s worry about freckles and other skin problems. Our cosmetics products use herbs and natural ingredients that are shown in traditional medical books. Unlike cosmetics that contain chemical ingredients, microbes in our products ferment naturally, if aged at appropriate temperatures, to have a positive influence on the skin. We have figured it out gradually through countless tests. That’s our naturally fermented products.

People with atopic skin or acne often have difficulty in choosing cosmetics. They wonder what ingredients were used in the products, how they were manufactured and how many chemical ingredients they contain. Kim was well aware of the seriousness of skin problems and floated the idea of developing naturally fermented products. He wanted to produce cosmetics that would recover the power of the skin by using natural substances. In fermentation, substances become smaller in the decomposition process to produce a greater absorption effect, while organic acids increase nutritious elements for the skin and promote self-preservation. Due to these benefits, naturally fermented cosmetics can use as few synthetic fragrances, artificial colors and preservatives as possible. The substances created in the fermentation process deliver the full vitality of nature to help enhance self-regenerating power. But it takes a great amount of effort and time for natural fermentation and aging.

Our technology is called ERBA, which stands for extract, refining, blending and aging. We developed this technology using our own recipe, ratios and temperatures. In general, cosmetics are made only a few days after blending necessary ingredients. But we blend them for one or two months and age them as long as possible. Even the complete products, especially skin essence, are kept under refrigeration so they can age slowly.

In its unique fermentation process, the company does not boil natural ingredients, including royal jelly, but still extracts flavonoid. The ingredients then go through the refining, blending and aging process, which takes between three months and two years, depending on ingredients. Even after that, they undergo the blending and aging process every day for two to three months to become essence products. The company’s product obtained a patent last year.

Our essence product got a patent after a number of tests on active ingredients. The natural extracts are believed to help prevent and treat the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. In brief, our unique technology gained due recognition from the government.

In addition to essence, the company released lotion, cream and skin products as well last year, drawing a positive response from the market. The products with natural healing elements have spread by word of mouth and appealed greatly to health-and skin-conscious consumers. Foreign buyers are showing keen interest in the fact that natural ingredients are effective in treating sensitive skin.

We’re targeting the Chinese market. It takes about two years to get approval from the China Food and Drug Administration. Four of our six products have already got the green light, thanks to generous support from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups as well as the Small & Medium Business Corporation. We were able to export the goods to Russia this month through a consortium business supported by the Korea Federation of SMEs. I have met a number of Russian buyers recently, and they reacted very favorably to our goods. Buyers from Britain, Germany and Switzerland also watched our products carefully, saying that there were few alternatives other than medicines and those were the very products they had been looking for. They purchased samples and said that they would make contact with us again later.

Previously, fermentation was used mostly for preserving food, such as kimchi, soybean paste and yogurt. But these days, fermentation technology is used for a healthy life, amid growing interest in environmentally-friendly ingredients and manufacturing methods that would prove to be good for the body. Interest in natural fermentation goes beyond food, spreading to cosmetics. With its naturally fermented cosmetics that went through the long fermentation and aging process, Celim Biotech is taking a step closer to a fundamental improvement of skin health.