The research is being conducted in conjunction with the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec) in Thailand, in an effort to evaluate the efficacy of various plant extracts, in response to a collaborative research agreement that was finalised at the beginning of this year.
The project will rely on the latest biotech technology to evaluate the active qualities using transfer technologies developed between the two groups. According to Thailand newspaper The Nation, both sides will initially study the potential uses of Thai herbs for a period of six months.
The project is a direct result of a visit by Thailand's Science and Technology Minister Korn Dabbaransi's visit to Shiseido's research centre in Japan last year, the newspaper report also said.
Shiseido said it was particularly interested in developing the use of a variety of herbs never before used for cosmetic applications, at the same time as saying that it was interested in developing one herb in particular, which it did not name.
Shiseido added that it was looking into herbs for skin care formulations, particularly those with whitening and anti-ageing properties.
Biotech said that in the long term it hoped the joint project would encourage the use of Thai herbs in cosmetic products across the globe.
A recent government funded project in Thailand has developed a way of using tumeric for cosmetic applications. The National Innovation Agency project discovered that tumeric has active compounds that are ideal for a variety of cosmetic applications, including skin whitening properties.
Thailand is already one of the world's leading suppliers of herbs to cosmetic companies. Some 10,000 varieties of herbs are currently grown in the country, giving the industry an estimated value of THB 30 billion (€593 million) a year. The market for herbal cosmetics is valued at THB 2 billion and is estimated to be growing at 30 per cent a year, with China and the US currently representing the biggest growth markets.