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Behind the Beauty Scenes… ProTec Ingredia GmbH Proudly Presents: What a distributor of cosmetic ingredients does

This is a translation of my German blogpost Hinter den Beauty-Kulissen… ProTec Ingredia GmbH Proudly Presents: Was ein Distributeur von Kosmetikwirkstoffen macht. Enjoy!

ProTec Ingredia GmbH

In cooperation with ProTec Ingredia // „I’m looking for another active ingredient for our new face cream, ideally an algae. Do you have any suggestions?“ a cosmetics manufacturer asks Norbert Trage, Senior Sales Manager for Northern German and the Netherlands at ProTec Ingredia.

Together with the company’s Senior Sales Manager Birgit Gertchen-Ohligschläger who is responsible for Southern Germany and Switzerland, Norbert is answering any queries around the cosmetic ingredients developed by ProTec Ingredia’s four suppliers: Codif Technologie naturelle, Mibelle Biochemistry, Oat Cosmetics und Barnet Products.

For this instalment of our Beauty Soap I‘ve asked Birgit (on the very left of the picture above) and Norbert (third person from the right) why distributors of cosmetic ingredients are necessary, what a sales manager does and how the cooperation with a cosmetic ingredients manufacturer works.

Previously on Behind the Beauty Scenes: In the introduction of my Beauty Soap I’m explaining the concept behind the article series: I’ve developed a beauty serial story in cooperation with ProTec Ingredia. Our journey will lead us to the heart of the cosmetics industry – because without active ingredients there wouldn’t be any cosmetic products. My beauty adventure begins with a visit to an algae farmer in Brittany. In the second part I’m introducing the people behind ProTec Ingredia and in the third chapter we’re finding out more about how beauty innovations happen. However, sometimes it’s difficult to develop a new ingredient – will it be possible to distill the fascinating skin care properties of moss into a cream jar? While I’m finding out why algae and cosmetics are such a good match, Swiss manufacturer Mibelle Biochemistry is developing a moss-based ingredient by using innovative technologies. During a phone call with Codif I’ve learned that sometimes lunch-time is the best time to generate new ideas for active ingredients and I also toured Codif’s R&D department to find out how the company manufactures its cosmetics ingredients. During a video chat with UK oat ingredients manufacturer Oat Cosmetics I found out why this grain is so beneficial for dry and irritated skin. I spoke with Dr. Schilling from Germany’s Maxim Group about how an private label manufacturer selects its active ingredients and what key issues will be shaping the cosmetics industry in the future. I also interviewed Dr. Franziska Wandrey, Study & Research Manager at Mibelle Biochemistry and presented four innovative new cosmetic ingredients which we will hopefully see in new beauty products soon. Then I returned to Codif’s lab to find out more about how the effects of active ingredients are researched with the help of skin models (a fascinating and forward-looking technology) and learned more about the the activities of Swiss biodiversity foundation ProSpecieRara. I also interviewed the team of ProTec Ingredia to find out how the cosmetics industry is experiencing the pandemic. Then we looked at how Codif manages to achieve 360° sustainability, took a walk through the ingredients production facility of Mibelle Biochemistry and spoke with Dr Jan Riedel from BSB Innovation Award. I also attended a webinar on blue biotechnology for sustainable beauty, learned more about application technology and presented four cosmetic ingredients for more glow. Then we delved into the fascinating topic of how DNA analysis makes cosmetic ingredients safer and in the last chapter, I attended Mibelle Biochemistry’s 30th anniversary Cyber Celebration.

What is the function of a distributor?

Birgit Gertchen-Ohligschläger: Of course a manufacturer of active ingredients can sell its own products, but this is often a complex and time-consuming process. With a distributor by its side, the manufacturer can focus completely on developing new ingredients. As a distributor we handle everything to do with sales: we visit customers and present the ingredients; we know the market and the trends, attend trade fairs, send out samples and act as a point of information for any questions about the ingredients. At ProTec Ingredia we focus on the distribution of specialities which means that we offer unusual and novel ingredients that are not easily available elsewhere on the market.

What exactly do you do as a Sales Manager?

Norbert Trage: We look after our customer base, i.e. the manufacturers of cosmetic products – and this is more work than you might think. Our customers call when they need an ingredient for a new cosmetic product. Before the pandemic, we frequently visited our clients in their offices and hopefully, we’ll be able to do this again soon. As part of our job we also visit trade fairs and give lectures and presentations at conferences. A large part of our time is dedicated to further training: our suppliers inform us about newly launched ingredients or share recent study results. We need always to be up to date about the latest scientific findings and what’s happening in the industry, so we can offer our clients the best possible support for their projects.

And what does a typical project look like?

Birgit: When we’re talking about projects we mean the development of a new cosmetic product. First, the Research & Development department of a cosmetic manufacturer tells us their wishes and specifications for the active ingredient. This can be an ingredient designed for a specific age group or a special function in a hair care product. Of course, the available budget also plays an important role.

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important: Very often we receive requests for regional or vegan ingredients, for organic ingredients certified by NaTrue or Cosmos or even for preservative-free ingredients. The CO2 footprint associated with the manufacturing and its transport route as well as the biodegradability of active ingredients have become key criteria for many cosmetic manufacturers. Based on the ingredients we have in our portfolio we then make suggestions that might be suitable for a particular project.

Sometimes a cosmetic manufacturer might have seen one of our ingredients at a trade show, so they ask for more detailed documentation, study results and samples for a first test formulation.

Norbert: This kind of project – developing a product – takes a long time and can last from six months to three years. At this point, we definitely need to mention our Inside Sales Manager Regina Linden, who is a key support in our daily work: She drafts the offers, sends out samples, documentation or safety data sheets and responds to a lot of customer questions. As soon as a customer places an order for active ingredients, our colleague Marina Prinsen-Löbbering processes the order and dispatches it from our warehouse.

Birgit: We are really proud when we see the finished cosmetic product in a drugstore or perfumery – it is wonderful knowing that we were involved in realising this project!

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

Norbert: Around once a year I visit my customers together with our suppliers. That’s always amazing but also quite difficult to organise since not all contact persons are available at the same time.

Birgit: It’s a lot of work helping our customers to clarify and adapt their wishes and guidelines so we can offer them a tailor-made ingredient – there are many factors at play here, such as the desired product claim, the product type and formulation, regulatory issues, preferred raw ingredients and so on. And of course, I’m sometimes disappointed if projects don’t happen after we’ve already invested a lot of preparation time. This can have many reasons which we often have no influence over.

Your personal favourites from your ingredients portfolio?

Norbert: Oh, it’s so difficult to make a choice…I think the new Samphira Oil Bioactive from Codif is really interesting. It’s a CO2 extract derived from sea fennel which is also called ‚retinol of the sea‘.

The cosmetic ingredient Alpine Rose Active from MibelleBiochemistry comes from the Swiss alps and is very exciting: It’s a novel anti-ageing concept which eliminated senescent (aged) cells in the skin tissue.

Birgit: One of my favourites is MossCellTec™ No. 1 from MibelleBiochemistry. This resilient moss boosts cell kernel activity and is produced sustainably – a perfect match for today’s hectic lifestyle.

I am also really excited right now about the latest scientific study results for the active ingredient AvenaPlex from Oat Cosmetics: The study has shown that the ingredient is boosting ceramide synthesis inside the skin.

And I can’t do without the Early Boost from Codif anymore: This active ingredient is like an energy drink for the skin. The natural taurine from the sustainably cultivated algae Jania rubens is also ideal for genderless or unisex products, a major trend right now.

© Photo: ProTec Ingredia GmbH

Here’s the homepage of ProTec Ingredia, where you can find contact data and more information about the ingredients mentioned in this article, and the company.

The next chapter in our beauty serial story will be all about the sea: I’ll find out what art, science and coral reefs have to do with each other. Stay tuned!

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