mandom corp.

Research & Development

Researcher Interviews

Fundamental Research Institute, Physiological Analysis Section, Supervisor

(joined the company in 1995)

She joined the company in 1995. She has been involved in the basic research of skin care (dermatology) for over 15 years. She was a pioneer in the cosmetics industry starting research on men's skin and discovering unique approaches such as how skin makes an impression. She's also a working mother managing both her job as a researcher and as a mother parenting and doing housework.

--What kind of research have you conducted over the past 23 years since joining the company?

I've dedicated over 15 years of my business career to basic research, and during that time I've also been involved in skin care (dermatology) research. My research accumulates data that forms the basis for Mandom's products by conducting sensory evaluations measuring usability, etc. and using specialized machines to measure factors such as skin moisture, sebum, elasticity and brightness to evaluate efficacy and grasp the skin properties of our subjects. This is mainly the kind of work I've spent a long time on.

Mandom was particularly quick to start research on men's skin, so the company discovered many original results such as clarifying skin symptoms unique to men. This is the work that I have been involved in.

--So although your work has been on skin, it's safe to say that your research has specialized in men's skin, correct?

Yes, that's correct. About 20 years ago we started a full-scale study on men's skin. At that time, other companies had published various data and articles regarding women's skin, but hardly anyone was performing systematic research on men's skin. For example, we were able to determine the cause of shiny and glaring skin due to aging, and use that data to help us develop products in response to the state of that skin.

But that's not all. Men's awareness towards skin care is not as high as women's, so there are many hurdles when it comes to getting men to purchase and use our products. That's why Mandom also places efforts in researching new methods to encourage men to use its products.

--Researching new methods?

Yes. One example is research on how skin makes an impression. Until now, our approach has mainly been from a symptom-based or functional aspect such as "moisturizing skin because it's dry." However, Mandom is now conducting research that allows people to make a better impression with their skin, an angle completely different from our conventional way of thinking. Past research has already shown that skin brightness affects how young skin looks, and that knowledge is actually being applied to our products now.

"What should we do to convey the importance of skin care to men and encourage them to use our products?" I think the ideas and research created from searching for an answer to that question is truly something worthy of the name "Mandom."

--What are some things that are particularly difficult in skin care research which are different from hair and body odor?

Unlike hair styling products that allow you to change your hairstyle instantly, the effects of skin care products do not appear immediately. That is why it is important to keep using the products over a long period of time.

For that reason, one of the biggest factors we place a lot of effort and consideration on is usability. For example, men hate using sticky products, so the key is to design products that moisturize their skin while feeling fresh when used.

Also, there's the issue of how to convey the benefits received from using those products. Similar to the explanation I gave earlier about how skin makes an impression, there is a need to provide men with information in order to get them interested. In order to do that, we place a lot of effort into working with each of our departments such as product development, marketing, and public relations to come up with approaches that can be easily conveyed to consumers.

--What does Mandom's Dedication to Service (Oyakudachi) for consumers mean to you?

For a long time, I have specialized in consistently measuring data such as changes in skin conditions and sensory evaluations in the field of skin care. From my experience doing this, I am convinced that the measurements I take will help improve the reliability of our products to consumers.

For example, the ability to clearly propose that measured results have shown that this product effectively prevents the shine produced by oily skin will surely make it easier for the consumer to choose this product, convincing them that "this might solve my problem." This will also allow us to solve their problem as they use our product. In this manner, helping satisfy the consumer is my way of providing "Dedication to Service (Oyakudachi)" to them.

--Considering the historical background of the time when you first joined the company, wouldn't you say it has been difficult as a woman working for so long?

Indeed. When I joined the company more than 20 years ago, the prevailing trend was that many women were quitting their jobs due to marriage or giving birth. This was because the maternity leave and childcare leave systems in place back then were not as robust as they are today. However, the environment surrounding female employees changed considerably after that. The current ratio of male to female staff in our laboratory is 6:4 (including non-regular staff), and most of our female staff return to their jobs after getting married or giving birth.

I, too, have personally had children and continued working at the company while parenting for a very long time. It goes without saying that Mandom's leave system is very robust, and I have received a tremendous amount of support from my colleagues, both seniors and juniors alike. Especially when my children were small, my colleagues would always send me off without grinning or making unpleasant gestures when my children suddenly got sick in nursery school. They always covered for me at work. The kind support and understanding I received from everyone is the reason why I have been able to work for so long at the company. I'm truly grateful.

--I understand that you also instruct and train young researchers.

That's correct. Human resource development is an increasingly important role of mine. As a researcher at Mandom, it might be safe to say that it is important to have an "I will not lose!" attitude or a specific field of expertise.

Looking back to when I was young, my seniors always used to ask me, "What do you want to specialize in in the future?" I wasn't able to come up with an answer at first, but I gradually started answering them by saying, "I want to be the best at evaluating skin." Having a professional domain has really helped my confidence as a researcher.

However, this doesn't mean that it's okay to simply do the research that's in front of you. We need to hone our skills in our areas of expertise while obtaining information on a wide variety of developments such as consumer trends, market environments, and even pharmaceutical regulations. As researchers at Mandom, we need to employ a broad and professional perspective. Being able to balance and develop the two is an extremely important quality we need to possess.

--What kind of research do you want to work on in the future?

I want to develop products that push the front of research results from unraveling mechanisms regarding skin structure and function, something that has remained unclear until now, and searching for breakthrough raw materials. I want to realize dynamic basic research results at an unprecedented level. Of course this won't be an easy task, but I'm currently performing research while sowing seeds that I hope to reap benefits from in the near future.

(Information as of March 2019.)