What does your sun cream actually consist of? Why does your shampoo smell like coconuts? And do you know what makes your skin cream so smooth and white? More and more cosmetics customers are asking questions like these. They are no longer satisfied with the fact that their products are sweet-smelling and effective. They want to know exactly what ingredients they contain. And they know exactly which ingredients they don’t want. This is creating huge challenges for the producers of these products — and also huge opportunities. That’s because the demand for cosmetics that are as natural, sustainably produced, and healthy as possible is constantly growing. In Germany alone, sales of cosmetic products have doubled in the past decade from € 600 million to € 1.2 billion. As a supplier of specialty ingredients, Evonik is benefiting from this trend — and its researchers are sparing no effort to unlock the deepest secrets of our skin. For this issue, we visited these researchers at their labs from Marl to Berlin and from Hamburg to the Cosmetic Valley in France.

But research at Evonik also goes under the skin: Transporting medical active ingredients through the body and ensuring that they develop their maximum effectiveness exactly where they should is a very exacting science. Scientists have been working for 120 years to develop optimal chemical transport mechanisms for drugs. Nanotechnology is now opening up new opportunities. The researchers’ dream sounds fantastic: They would like to use targeted processes to kill cancer cells early on with molecular precision.

This fall Evonik will have an important anniversary to celebrate: Creavis, our unit for strategic innovation, will be 20 years old. In an interview, Professor Stefan Buchholz, the Managing Director of Creavis, explained to us how new ideas originate at his unit and are developed into successful businesses. We also took this anniversary as an opportunity to ask Professor Wendelin Stark from the University of Zürich to share with us his views about the future of innovation. Stark, a researcher at the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering, has a provocative and radical thesis: Upheavals such as those that have occurred in the music and media sectors could also turn the chemical industry, which has been so stable to date, upside down. The dinosaur companies are dying out, and the future belongs to agile startups and creative spinoffs! Are we now experiencing the beginning of the end?

Evonik’s magazine ELEMENTS is published in German and English, in a print version and digitally on the Internet. If you would like to continue reading ELEMENTS, you can order a subscription free of charge. I wish you pleasant and instructive reading, and I look forward to receiving your suggestions and comments at:

Matthias Ruch
Editor in Chief of ELEMENTS

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