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CORK FOR THE SKIN?

The Institut Català del Suro investigates the benefits of the active principle of cork for our skin

 

Catalonia and, above all, the province of Girona has historically been linked to the cork industry. They are currently created in Catalonia on 60% Sparkling Wine Stoppers and the 10% of wine corks worldwide.

In addition to the manufacture of corks, cork, which is the bark of the cork oak (Quercus Suber), it is also used in industry and architecture for its properties: it is a lot good insulating, light, non-slip, floats on water

From the R+D+i Department of theCatalan Institute of Cork (ICSuro) we constantly work on research projects in order to innovate and find new uses for this very special material.

 

 

NATURE AND SCIENCE

Suberin and its surface network structure play a very important role, as they provide elasticity to cork and make it a material with optimal conditions for different functions. Recently, some scientific studies have appeared that indicate that its active ingredient, suberin, may also have potential benefits for the skin.

It is for this reason that we are working in collaboration with the company Biogründl in a project entitled SUPERCHEM, and which consists, precisely, in obtaining one range of active principles with cosmetic utility and that have their origin in by-products of the Catalan cork industry. The other two objectives of the project are:

  • The search for a new compound extraction method of natural origin that is more efficient than current methods and that minimize the consumption of polluting products.
  • The characterization of cosmetic properties of cork by-product extracts.

 

ECOLOGICAL VALUE

Cork oaks have existed, according to studies, for approximately 60 million years. Natural and cultivated forests of these leafy evergreen trees are found in areas of the Mediterranean.

In the Spanish state they are mainly concentrated in Extremadura, Andalusia and Catalonia. The first peeling or cam of cork is done when the tree is about 25 years old. However, for cosmetic use, peeling is carried out even from an age of approximately 43 years, since the old cork has a higher content of nutrients. From this point, the peel occurs every nine years in the south of Spain and Portugal and every 12 in Catalonia. This guarantees a exceptional quality and the sustainability of the plantation.

 

A VERY SPECIAL ECOSYSTEM

Due to their renewable natural resources, cork oaks are of incalculable value not only for people. These forests represent a special ecosystem that serves as a habitat for many animal species. In addition, they constitute an essential lung for the Earth. In the midst of the fight against global warming, corks have one enormous CO2 absorption capacity.

one of the strategic objectives of the ICSuro is to help constantly improve the management of corks in an ecological way, protecting them sustainably and contributing to their maintenance.

The company Biogründl, born in Barcelona in 2002, has specialized in the search for active ingredients of natural origin, local and Mediterranean in nature. For this reason, the case of cork is certainly special for being endemic to the Mediterranean and for its characteristics socio-economic, historical and cultural implications that has with the Catalan territory.

The ultimate goal of this project is to give a new use for the by-product of the caper industry, in order to make the most of cork production and make it profitable in the context of the circular economy.

(Article published in Beauty Cluster Barcelona, 31 OCTOBER 2018)

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