‘Solving a hidden problem’: Laboratoires Expanscience sees opportunities in Asia’s intimate feminine care market

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Laboratoires Expanscience is targeting Japan, South Korea and China with its latest microbiome active that claims to solve intimate, often undisclosed, issues. [Getty Images]
Laboratoires Expanscience is targeting Japan, South Korea and China with its latest microbiome active that claims to solve intimate, often undisclosed, issues. [Getty Images]

Related tags: Feminine hygiene, Asia pacific, Skin care

French firm Laboratoires Expanscience is targeting Japan, South Korea and China with its latest microbiome active that claims to solve intimate, often undisclosed, issues like vaginal itching and pain from sexual intercourse.

Calybiota Bio is a polysaccharide-rich extract from the calyx of the red kapok tree flower, or Bomba Costatum​, a native of the savannas of West Africa.

Laboratoires Expanscience research showed that it was able to balance the microbiota and saw that it was beneficial to skin conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis, as well as work as a deodorant.

However, the firm has chosen to focus on the underserved intimate feminine care category. It found that the active’s prebiotic effect could soothe discomfort such as dryness, itching and redness around the vaginal area.

Since Calybiotia Bio launched at in-cosmetics Global in April, the firm has been pleasantly surprised by its reception in the European market.

“The market is small but it’s growing, and that’s interesting for us,”​ Armelle Le Péniec told CosmeticsDesign-Asia ​during this year’s in-cosmetics Korea.

“At first, we didn’t know what to expect because it’s a niche market. But people were very excited because the claim is quite innovative and we are solving a problem – a hidden problem that most women don’t want to speak about,”​ said the firm’s director of cosmetic active ingredients.

The prevalence of feminine hygiene issues and the lack of products and solutions that can solve them is why the company believes there is strong global potential for its new ingredient.

It is now working on launching in the Asia Pacific markets. It is already present in Japan, where it has observed high interest and positive feedback from customers. Next, it is targeting China and South Korea, and is in the midst of getting the ingredient approved for those two markets.

Intimate protection

Le Péniec highlighted that the company went beyond in vitro studies and performed a clinical study on real women, who suffered from various intimate discomfort, including pain from sexual intercourse.

One group that was studied were menopausal women, who experienced discomfort like dryness and fissures.

“During the study we were able to compare between two groups, and one was using a placebo. In the placebo group we saw the pH increase, whereas the active significantly decreased the active back to normal,” ​said Leo Liénard, product manager, nutraceuticals, Laboratoires Expanscience.

The company also studied women who suffer from chronic irritation as a result of conditions such as vaginosis and mycosis. It found that the active was able to mitigate the discomfort during the recovery phase.

In addition to this, the company worked with a gynaecologist to observe the effects the active had on women’s sexual wellness.

It found that it was able to reduce dyspareunia – pain felt during sexual intercourse – which can be caused by various conditions, including vaginal infections and dryness.

Through a self-report, subjects said dyspareunia was reduced by 83% and 81% of them reported an improvement in their sexual life.

“This really goes beyond intimate care and into women’s wellness,”​ said Liénard.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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