A screenshot of Pierre Fabre’s official website. [Photo/pierre-fabre.com/fr]

Pierre Fabre, a French dermo-cosmetics company, plans to raise its investment in China’s skin care market, one of its senior executives said.

China, she said, is expected to surpass France to become the group’s largest market in three years.

Avene, Pierre Fabre’s dermo-cosmetics brand, made its debut in the Chinese market in 2003, when demand for sensitive skin care management rose in the country.

Kyungae Choe, managing director of Pierre-Fabre Dermo-Cosmetique China, the local unit of the parent company, said China is not only one of the group’s fastest-growing markets but also presents the greatest growth potential.

In the coming five years, the parent plans to cooperate closely with its China unit to introduce more skin care products for the benefit of Chinese consumers.

More than 50 years ago, Pierre Fabre invented dermo-cosmetics, an industry branch that integrates health and beauty.

She said during the COVID-19 pandemic period, the company had experienced production challenges.

For instance, one of Avene’s bestsellers in China, namely Thermal Spring Water, could not get access to its original spring source in France during the pandemic. To guarantee the quality and quantity of its products supplied to China, Pierre-Fabre developed a new water purification technology.

“We are optimistic about the Chinese market. In the future, we will further dig into the market, so that Chinese consumers are able to have healthy skin in the long run,” Choe said.

On Jan 3, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, adopted a new version of China’s cosmetics supervision and administration regulations. It will take effect on Jan 1 next year, and will facilitate the import of cosmetics into China.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior research and development director from an international cosmetics company said that in the past, China only offered a “positive list” that identified raw materials that can be imported into China for making cosmetics.

This crimped the scope for cooperation between Chinese and foreign companies in the past as there was no other country with a similar positive list.

In the long run, the different standards adopted by China and other countries and regions could have led to a situation that distinguished cosmetic products as either Chinese or foreign cosmetics. That could have even held back China’s progress in the sector, he said.

But, thankfully, the new regulations will offer more autonomy in raw material import, thereby presenting potential opportunities for more cooperation deals between domestic and foreign companies in the future.

The new regulations will allow imported cosmetics to use Chinese labels, or append a Chinese label to the original one, on condition that the new label should conform to the content and look of the original label.

Mao Zhenbin, a senior official at the Department of Science, Technology and International Cooperation of the National Medical Products Administration, said: “The new regulations encourage the import of safe and effective cosmetics into China, and offer clearer guidance to MNCs. In this way, new industries and new business modes are expected to emerge.”

He also said his department is now working on effective implementation of the new system that aims to evaluate makeup and skin care products with the simplest and most practical method.

On Dec 3, the National Clinical Research Center for Dermatologic and Immunologic Diseases and Pierre Fabre jointly launched a collaborative innovation lab.

Aiming to boost cooperation between China and France in skin care, the lab not only explores daily skin care but also focuses on diseases like skin cancer.

Liu Yucun, Party chief of Peking University Health Science Center, said: “The ultimate goal of research is that the results can be applied to clinical practice. Extensive cooperation and complementing each other’s advantages are essential to successful clinical research.

“The establishment of the lab explores win-win development both in China and France. It’s also the only way of boosting collaboration among industry, universities and research labs.”