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A Tour Made in France: The Cosmetic Valley
By: Jane Evison
Posted: December 3, 2009
Cosmetic Valley is an organization created with Silicon Valley in mind. Based in Chartres, France, literally across the street from the famous Chartres cathedral, Cosmetic Valley is all about the promotion of domestic cosmetics firms—which together comprise a significant part of France’s gross domestic product.
While not as geographically close as companies in Silicon Valley, members of Cosmetic Valley—and there are a few hundred—know that they are in a group that brings together a diverse range of companies ensconced in the beauty industry. Members vary from brand owners like Guerlain to spray mechanism and packaging specialists such as Valois to active ingredient providers such as Sederma.
For one week in September, GCI European representative Jane Evison trekked across western France, through Orleans and Paris, and came away with an update on technologies, markets and company initiatives to share with GCI magazine readers.
Sederma (Le Perray en Yvelines, France) was one of the first companies to join Cosmetic Valley. Founded in 1964 and purchased by Croda in 1997, the firm is known for active ingredients and fine chemicals. Even those who are familiar with the company might be surprised by the scope of Sederma’s labs and testing. Research facilities include in vitro and in vivo testing, with cell cultures harvested from humans and multiplied in the labs. And a “pool” of cells is always on hand. DNA array testing and RNA extraction is done internally and with the help of a partner. The testing allows Sederma staff to see which genes are activated or suppressed by a certain ingredient. Additionally, Sederma is currently researching animal test alternatives, has a wide-ranging antiaging project, and is even looking at cosmetotextiles.
Products from closure and pump spray specialist Valois (Le Neubourg, France) were spotted throughout the ensuing tours of Cosmetic Valley members. A very large and very clean manufacturing facility makes many standard products, and a design staff answers unique customer challenges—such as making a spray head in the form of a rough gem or an apple stem. Hot areas include mini-systems for samples and hidden tubes (optically practically invisible, matching the refractive index of the liquid). Company sources say about two-thirds of Valois’ business is foreign—their efforts in packaging help to truly deliver the much-desired “Made in France” monicker to products.