When it was founded in 1972, Exsymol, an independent family-run company specialized in the design and manufacturing of cosmetic actives, settled in an eight-storey industrial plant located in the heart of Monaco’s Fontvieille quarter. It now spreads across a surface of 5,300 square metres divided into four levels, right by the Mediterranean sea, where it produces almost 400 tons of cosmetic actives every year. Enough to make several hundreds of millions of beauty product units! And the site has just been certified to the EFfCI GMP guidelines.
This exceptional situation does have advantages, but also a few drawbacks, in particular as regards logistics. “Settling right in the city centre meant we had to meet stringent anti-pollution standards,” Christophe Paillet emphasizes. “As a result, we almost immediately used non-polluting extraction and synthesis processes and green chemistry. And today, we are perfectly in line with the market demand.” Last November, the company actually won the Monaco Eco Club Sustainable Development Trophy, beating 800 other companies. Among others, Exsymol was rewarded for the development of a new active based on the natural by-products made by the neighbouring Grasse perfumery industry.
“Customer expectations have considerably changed,” explains Christophe Paillet. “Efficacy requirements have strengthened and are now reinforced by strong environmental requirements. In addition, marketing needs actives to tell a special story.”
More than 40 patented molecules
In order to meet these demands, almost a quarter of the company’s employees have been working on research and development. As a result, Exsymol has registered hundreds of patents all around the world, covering over 40 molecules! “Most of them are new molecules or active families, and not mere composition patents,” Christophe Paillet specifies.
Innovation and scientific requirements lie at the core of the company’s DNA, as it started its business in the field of pharmaceutics. In the early 1980s, the discovery of a new family of organic silicon derivatives, silanols, helped Exsymol develop their expertise in glycation processes and intercellular communication. Then, the development of peptoids permanently confirmed their focus on the production of cosmetic actives, which managers had considered very early as a decisive factor in the development of the beauty industry.
Today, the company still mainly produces two categories of actives: silicon derivatives, skin structuring elements that normalize its metabolism, and peptide derivatives obtained after conducting in-depth research on the oxidation processes within the cells, which play a role in particular in the fight against glycation, and pave the way for innovations like neurocosmetics.
If its culture is definitely scientific-based, with a very strong focus on efficacy, the company knows how to take advantage of its environment by collaborating more and more with local players such as Grasse perfumers. Indeed, Exsymol has been developing an increasing number of natural actives for its core markets in skincare cosmetics: dermocosmetics and cosmeceutics.