Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring polyphenol derived from the gallnut, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years.
The company uses an excretion from the gallnut produced as a by-product from the larvae of gall insects such as the gall wasp. Historically this extract has been produced for Chinese medicines by cultivating it on oak trees.
Gallnuts from oak contain very high levels of tannins, of which the lighter coloured tannins can be used as both a skin lightening and an anti-ageing ingredient in skin care products.
Fenchem says its in vitro tests indicate that the ingredient’s efficacy is probably derived from its ability to inhibit the melanocytes and melanin synthesis.
Likewise, ellagic acid is thought to suppress melanogenesis without damaging cells, while also helping to prevent the formation of further sun spots and freckles, caused by exposure to UV rays thanks to its anti-oxidative properties.
Global market for skin lightening
The company says it is targeting growth for skin whitening products outside the key markets of Japan and the US with its Ellagic acid ingredient.
Market research from Mintel indicates that, although these two leading markets have traditionally dominated the skin lightening category, many other countries are now tapping into the trend, which in turn is rapidly turning it into a global phenomenon.
At the end of last year Fenchem said it will continue its expansion into cosmetics ingredients, having announced a 35 per cent increase in its annual revenue.
The industry-leading growth came off the back of its expansion into the cosemtics field this year, when the company stated it was building on cross-over ingredients for its food and nutritional division.
The company says that, in contrast with many companies in the manufacturing supply segment, it is currently in the process of expanding its production and personnel to help meet increased demand, which is also being fed by an expansion of its pet food ingredients.