Five centuries ago, a volcanic eruption left in its wake the most nutrient-rich soil imaginable on Jeju Island in the Pacific. Believed to be a gift from a goddess, this fertile soil gave birth to some of the best-quality green tea in Asia. Tales of the tea’s potency were legendary. Asian princesses, it was said, rubbed its leaves on their face to maintain their youth.
In 1945, after studying the remarkable benefits of the green tea and other botanicals to be found on Jeju, Suh Sung-whan founded South Korea’s Amorepacific Corporation. He made it his company’s mission to harness the antioxidant benefits of these plants to create natural skincare products.
“Asian botanicals are at the core of Amorepacific skincare,” says Eunsan Jeong, Director of Amorepacific Indonesia. “Believing that beauty secrets are found in nature, we unearth the wisdom of Asian botanicals and use these ingredients for our skincare products.
“Amorepacific uses the highest level of care in its cultivation process, presenting only the finest-quality ingredients to ensure purity and potency. Our products blend Asia’s most powerful age-defying and skin-renewing botanicals with advanced technology and science to accomplish the perfect synergy. All Amorepacific products are designed to be highly concentrated, time-release skincare treatments, formulated without water to achieve powerful, longer-lasting benefits.”
The company continues to spearhead research into Asian botanicals. “Today, we partner with world-renowned researchers like Dr. David Weitz’s Research Group at Harvard University to bring to life the most sophisticated technologies to our skincare formulas,” says Jeong. “We hold over 140 patents in skin-related research and technology, and we are relentless at pushing the boundaries while staying true to our core values of using Asian botanicals.”
In the company’s early days, Suh Sung-whan began by harvesting and handpicking his own green tea leaves, a practice Amorepacific – whose Chairman today is the founder’s son, Suh Kyung-bae – still follows. The leaves are the world’s only source of EGCG, one of the world’s most potent anti-oxidant polyphenols, which reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles and increases the skin’s radiance.
Located at the foot of Halla Mountain on Jeju, Amorepacific’s prized green-tea gardens are carefully guarded and protected. They are nourished by pure spring water and mineral-rich volcanic soil, the ideal conditions in which to grow the plants. Vital parts of the plants are picked, says the company, “at the peak of their optimal potency, and at specific times of the month, day and year, to ensure superior efficacy in skincare”.
Under the leadership of Suh Kyung-bae, who has placed No. 20 on Harvard Business Review’s annual worldwide Best-Performing CEOs List and has ranked highest among cosmetics industry bosses and second highest among Asian CEOs. Amorepacific has set itself the target of becoming “the Asian Beauty Creator”. Its goal is to provide global customers with a wide-ranging portfolio of beauty and health solutions through 30 brands spanning beauty, household and healthcare products.
Amorepacific aims to make its Sulwhasoo brand the number-one luxury cosmetics name in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. “Thankfully, our Indonesian customers love Sulwhasoo,” says Jeong. “There are not many brands that exceed US$1 billion in sales a year. As a representative brand of Amorepacific, Sulwhasoo delivers on the philosophy of Asian beauty.
“As we know, Asian countries have a different heritage than western countries. Our ancients knew how to use medicinal herbs. There is a well-known medical book from the Joseon dynasty, named Donguibogam. It has records of lots of medicinal herbs. The Amorepacific R&D centre tries to find all of its recorded medicinal herbs. Then we use the herbs in our products. We seek to follow our long wisdom with modern technology.”
Writing in his company’s latest annual report, Suh Kyung-bae says: “In 2017, Amorepacific focused on the expansion of its major brands in overseas markets…overseas business continued its steady growth supported by the notable achievements in the Asian and North American region. In establishing the framework to improve this year’s performance, Amorepacific will further accelerate its overseas expansion.
“We will focus on the diversification of our global business by entering new markets, including the Middle East, Australia, etc., as well as launching new brands within North America and the Asean market. In line with this, Amorepacific will also establish the foundations for sustainable growth by executing small yet specific customer-centred service.
“Amorepacific is committed to realising its vision as a Great Brand Company by making people all over the world more beautiful with our own beauty that hadn’t existed before. By focusing on these major initiatives, we will turn this vision into reality.
“Even in difficult conditions, Amorepacific has always created the history of the first and the best by focusing on our fundamental mission of changing the world with beauty. With the passion to start a new challenge this year, Amorepacific will continue to make customer-centered efforts in cooperation with beauty partners, clients and suppliers based on our ‘Act Now’ principle. In addition, we will do our best to enhance Amorepacific’s corporate and shareholders’ value.”
Suh Sung-whan opened his first research laboratory in 1954. It was also the first in the South Korean cosmetics industry. Today’s Amorepacific R&D centre is among the largest of any cosmetics company in the world, “and it has consistently been on the cutting edge of skincare technology,” says Jeong. “For over half a century Amorepacific has pioneered technological developments to meet the highest standards of health and beauty.”
Building upon its expertise in balancing tradition and modern science, the company operates a cutting-edge R&D centre. Amorepacific joined the UN Global Compact in 2007 in its pursuit of sustainable management that matches global standards. Thanks to its successes with ethical product development, environmental protection and social contributions, Amorepacific was the first company in its industry sector to be listed for two straight years on the worldwide Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
Under the slogan of “Beautiful People, Better Tomorrow”, Amorepacific has undertaken various corporate social responsibility initiatives, such as “Make Up Your Life”, “Pink Ribbon Campaign” and “Hope Store”, in a move to help women develop healthy and beautiful lifestyles. Since 2011, Make Up Your Life has been working with hospitals in China to assist female cancer patients to overcome depression and regain their inner beauty by offering beauty and make-up tips.
As well as green tea, Amorepacific’s products contain bamboo sap and red ginseng. Bamboo is one of the most resilient and dynamic plants on earth, growing over three feet a day. It’s known for its elegance, strength and ability to flourish in extreme environmental conditions. Bamboo water has long been considered one of the most precious drinks in the world. Korean doctors have long prescribed it for purification and well-being. The Japanese call it “divine water”, ingested to promote and maintain overall good health.
At the heart of the bamboo plant is the “sap”, which Amorepacific’s scientists pioneered ways to stabilise for use in the company’s skincare products. Extraction of Amorepacific Bamboo Sap is performed only during the months of May, June and July each year. Rich in minerals, sugars and amino acids, the sap’s primary value is its intensive hydrating benefits.
Red ginseng, meanwhile, contains high levels of saponin (a powerful anti-oxidant), which is maximised by Amorepacific’s harvesting methods during peak months in September and October. The saponin stimulates hyaluronic acid (HA) production. Used by cosmetic doctors and dermatologists, HA controls skin aging by increasing moisture retention and firming and strengthening the skin’s barrier.
The cultivation of red ginseng requires six years of natural organic farming methods. Korean ginseng is prized for its superior energising and stimulating benefits. Its nutrients result in increased skin energy and vitality.
“What we do is to combine the best of nature and science,” says Jeong. “Using green tea, bamboo sap and red ginseng, among other ingredients, to form our patented complexes, we nourish the skin on a deeper level. For achieving authentically beautiful skin, it’s the ultimate indulgence.”