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Beauty Research & Innovation

Ginseng Technology: Getting to the Root of this Potent Anti-Aging Herb

Ginseng, Asia’s most precious medicinal herb, has been renowned for centuries for its internal health benefits. But we wondered how to harness its power for external benefits.

In the 1960s, when Amorepacific started its research into ginseng, its primary concern was how its components could be extracted and added to cosmetics products. As the beneficial elements of ginseng cannot permeate through the skin when applied directly to it, we developed Ginsenomics, dedicated to researching ginseng’s beneficial properties, and how to get them to have an influence on the skin.

This research effort lead to the discovery that ginseng’s saponin is activated by the digestive process. Without passing through the intestines, saponin’s large molecular structure and soluble component cannot be absorbed in the skin consisting of lipids. However when activated, the saponin turns into two components that has smaller molecular weights and can be changed into fat soluble substances that can be absorbed into the skin. These components are Compound K, which yields amazing anti-aging adaptogens, and Ginsensoside F1, which delivers powerful brightening adaptogens as well as anti-aging properties that inhibit cell damage from UV rays. Amorepacific’s Researchers was the first in the world to discover this finding.

After discovering the potential cosmetic benefits activated by the human body’s digestive process, Amorepacific succeeded in 1973, separating saponin from ginseng and converted it into its active substances, Compound K and Ginsenoside F1. The company was also the first in the world to do this, but they faced another problem. Even though they could extract these elements, these active components were so rare that very little amount could be obtained from each 6-year-old ginseng root. Producing cosmetics ingredients from these components utilizing ordinary extraction methods was impossible.

Our aim at that point was to identify an enzyme that is used when ginseng is absorbed into the system and then reproduce it outside the body. Fortunately, through tireless innovation and dedication, Amorepacific was able to identify the enzyme, ginseng hydrolases. This remarkable discovery meant that the rare component, especially Compound K could be reproduced by saponin found in red ginseng, which is a much less elaborate process, and opened the door to mass production of Compound K .

To achieve our goal of bringing ginseng’s benefits to cosmetics, Amorepacific developed bio-conversion technology which produced the components in larger quantities. While previously, only 5-10 percent of the saponin in red ginseng was changed into active ingredients by the glucosidase enzyme used to decompose polysaccharides; when saponin reacts with ginseng hydrolases, 95% of the saponin was subsequently turned into active substances. Through this technology, Amorepacific was able to make superbly effective functional cosmetics based on the rare saponin. Moreover, this technology was developed using environmentally-friendly methods. Using only water and ethanol without using organic solvents in the enzyme treatment process of ginseng, the company developed enzyme-treated red ginseng saponin. This eco-friendly technology vividly exhibits what the technology of Amorepacific Asian herbal medicinal cosmetics aims to pursue.