Personal Care & Aroma: a world of innovation

Harnessing in-house expertise and forging partnerships to develop innovative personal care ingredients

Personal care ingredients that respond to constantly changing needs

Innovation at DSM is defined by our core value of sustainability and underpinned by our main strengths: outstanding scientific expertise, state-of-the-art technology, global marketing and sales networks, and global regulatory experience.  So as well as delivering the broad range of innovative and sustainable personal care ingredients our customers expect, we provide a comprehensive package of support.

Our R&D competences encompass synthetic peptides, aroma chemicals, UV-filters, biotechnology and skin active ingredients for natural beauty, vitamins for personal care, and polymer technology.  We also gain early access to new ideas by engaging in external innovation with academia, start-ups and other partners.

Through collaboration and licensing products with best- in -class partners, DSM is entering the new and upcoming market for skin microbiome beauty products and expanding its polymer activities to increase its presence in the hair care, body care and make up markets.

Consumer-led UV filters and sun care solutions developed by our formulation experts

By combining 40 years of experience in producing, selecting and blending UV filters with established science and original thinking, DSM works constantly to develop innovative and more sustainable sun care solutions. Our activities are supported by a new UV task force – a team of experts committed to bringing you the facts about the sun care market, regulatory developments, current environmental and safety concerns, and our products.

We offer our customers a complete package of expertise. It starts with our consumer insights capabilities – from proprietary surveys to social media listening – to give customers the information they need to understand current trends, concerns and aspirations around sunscreen products. Next come our formulation and testing know-how, our scientific expertise, and our extensive portfolio of UVA and UVB filters, emulsifiers, skin care actives to support UV protection, and sensory modifiers. Our panel of sensory experts carries out qualitative and quantitative assessments to optimize the sensory properties of sunscreen products. We also offer a free online Sunscreen Optimizer™ tool to help customers develop and fine-tune sunscreen formulations before they begin the SPF testing process.

Beyond our material solutions, our experienced and dedicated team of regulatory experts ensures that products satisfy local registration, quality and safety requirements. We also engage actively with authorities such as the FDA to seek approval for our products and filters. Drawing on all these strengths enables us to innovate and formulate sun care solutions that are fit for the future – and that people can trust.


Synthetic peptides take bioactive ingredients to a new level

DSM has been a player in the synthetic peptides field since the 1950s and 60s. Our original focus was on pharmaceutical applications but in the early 2000s we became one of the first companies to explore the potential of synthetic peptides for cosmetic applications.  Our SYN®-Peptides range of skin care active ingredients launched in 2005 and is proven to be particularly effective at addressing commons signs of skin ageing.

To identify potential structural features that could be responsible for a molecule’s biological activity our scientists use molecular modelling – a tool new to cosmetics. Initially, molecules are modeled virtually to identify the most promising lead compounds. Based on these in silico results, a library of active compounds is then synthesized and tested to narrow the selection to those which are most effective. This technique reduces costs and development time. It also enables us to understand how products perform at molecular level and how our skin actives bind in their biological target within the skin.

DSM owns every aspect of the supply chain for its synthetic peptides which are manufactured at our multi-purpose facility at Village-Neuf in France. This plant has been operating to the highest quality and safety standards since 1972 and its capacities have enabled us to scale up our production of new and existing peptides while ensuring quality and flexibility over the whole production process.

Long standing expertise in vitamins for cosmetic ingredients

DSM is the longest-standing producer of vitamins in the world. We were the first company to explore their beauty potential for cosmetic ingredients and we remain committed to exploring this potential further across the whole spectrum of beauty products.  Our superior production capabilities support us in this goal and enable us to lead the way on technology and cost competitiveness. Our comprehensive portfolio boasts both the full range of 13 vitamins and the most demanded forms for cosmetics, including retinol GS 50, the most sustainable form of vitamin E available, and niacinamide PC with the lowest Nicotinic acid content.


Beyond a high-quality material supply, our customers benefit from our multi-industry expertise and oversight in the world of vitamins. Our package covers consumer insights, scientific expertise, and support with ingredient coding, formulation, and regulatory matters.

At DSM, we review our vitamin production for sustainability on an ongoing basis and our Quality for Life™ seal reflects our commitment to the environment and society. More broadly our Quali® brand is also our promise of vitamins that meet the highest expectations for quality, reliability and traceability.

Organic, sustainable and a fair trade skin actives derived from nature

When it comes to extracting natural beauty actives DSM has considerable expertise.  Our wide-ranging portfolio of nature-inspired, bioactive ingredients originate from edible vegetables, herbs, natural oils, silk and milk, yeast and fermentation, and marine plants and algae.  In addition to extracting actives from natural botanical sources we also produce many ingredients sustainably, using biotechnology or in accordance with green chemistry principles.


Our commitment to natural beauty products is about much more than our expertise in developing extracts though.  Sustainability throughout the supply chain is also a cornerstone of our naturals philosophy. Our flagship and pioneering ALPAFLOR® range, for example, uses socially and environmentally responsible production methods all along its supply chain. So much so that as well as being organic- certified all ingredients in the portfolio produced at our site in the Swiss Valais have received Fair Trade certification according to the Fair for Life standard.

Helping you see skincare differently

At DSM we know customers want us to show (not just tell) how our bright science works when it comes to our ingredients. More and more, consumers too are paying attention: Over 50% of Canadian BPC users are researching ingredients to better understand a product’s effectiveness1. That’s why we’re so excited about our new holotomography microscope. This powerful tool goes beyond traditional fluorescent microscopy to monitor cells continuously during application of our ingredients (rather than at the static ends). With this capability we can visualize ingredient efficacy at a cellular level and offer a new level of claim substantiation. Watch the video to see how it all comes together.

1 Kantar Profiles/Mintel, September 2021, August 2021

Open innovation in pursuit of microbiome skin care ingredients

The skin microbiome refers to the billions of micro-organisms or ‘microbiota’ living on the surface of our skin.  There has been extensive research into the gut microbiome and its role in human health and now we are seeing a shift to all things skin related.  The skin microbiome is complex and still to be fully understood, but it has been proven to affect skin appearance opening a new wave of advanced technologies for skin and hair actives. It also offers vast potential for wider cosmetic application to explore.

As a key player in microbiome gut health solutions and a recognized industry leader in epidermal and skin barrier science - home of the microbiome - DSM is uniquely positioned to draw on its expertise in both fields to develop new microbiome skin care ingredients. 

Our scientists have already made encouraging findings about the beneficial effects that current ingredients have on the skin microbiome and in the mid to long term we hope to develop novel approaches and innovative products such as pre- and pro-biotics.

We plan to bring real, consumer relevant solutions to the market as soon as possible through collaboration with external partners already active in this field and investment in skin microbiome companies such as S-Biomedic.

Academia - the natural home of basic research

Universities have capacities for pure research that even a global company like DSM cannot match. But we can and do collaborate with universities across Europe and Asia in many areas of interest to both pure and applied science in skin biology.

In South Africa we joined forces with Sefako Makgatho University to investigate whether different ethnic groups have differing skin care needs. We discovered that not only are the facial skin hydration and skin barrier properties of Chinese, Caucasian, Indian and Black African female subjects immensely complex but that remarkable skin hydration and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) gradients exist within short distances on different areas of the same face.

These findings have already been published and are now being translated into novel, customized solutions for ethnically differentiated hydration and anti-aging care.