Saying that I am looking forward to in-cosmetics Global returning in person on 5-7 April is not to say anything very surprising.
It’s Paris in the springtime, this is the one big event in my year where the attendee base is not mainly middle-aged men in suits like, er, me, and it is always a good one for journalists because so many companies use it to launch and/or showcase new products. This is something of a rarity at industry events in the pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals markets, the other two major markets we cover in Speciality Chemicals Magazine.
Paris was the venue the first time I went to in-cosmetics Global in 2003. It was a significantly smaller show than it is now – and I had just come from a plastics industry title where the triennial European event took over all 17 halls of Messe Düsseldorf for nine days. The single large hall occupied by in-cosmetics seemed like a breeze by comparison.
All the same, there was a lot to do and quite a steep learning curve to climb, not least in learning the very different language and emphasis in the personal care sector by comparison with the industrial markets I had been covering. It was so much more driven by marketing, subjectivity and emotion.
Nonetheless, there was – and indeed is – plenty of good, old-fashioned chemistry at the heart of personal care formulation. And back then, there was a distinction between the chemical companies familiar to me from other markets, including most of the biggest in the world, who overlapped into personal care and the (generally) smaller specialists in natural products.
Unlike almost all of the other journalists who attended then, my interest was firmly with the former. Seaweed extracts, citrus oils, natural peptides, Bolivian yak butter (OK, so I made that one up) and the like were not on my radar screen in 2002, nor in most cases were they for the chemical companies.
Fast forward a bit and the world has changed a lot. The chemical companies now speak the language of personal care in exactly the same way as everyone else. They have moved into that space by a mixture of acquisition and organic expansion into new areas of expertise. At the same time, they are not afraid to say that what they do is chemistry.
And, while there are still a few brands who talk the language of ‘free from’ and ‘no artificial chemicals’, I think there is more of a general respect for the capabilities chemistry has brought to personal care. After three years without an in-cosmetics Global and now that I also wear another hat as editor of a specialist personal care magazine, I shall be very interested to see how the industry has changed. See you in Paris.