Research & Development
Product Assurance Division, Evaluation Analysis Division, Chief
(joined the company as a mid-career employee in 2015)
He engaged in a research job for 13 years at a major cosmetics OEM company before he joined Mandom midway during 2015. Including the job for his previous employer, He had been engaged in safety evaluation research for a very long time. Utilizing his extensive experience, He helps develop products by performing tasks such as promoting research for new testing and evaluation methods for alternatives to animal testing.
- --First, please share your work history until now.
I worked at my previous employer, a cosmetics OEM manufacturer, for approximately 13 years. My work was in a basic research field where I mainly studied evaluations on the usefulness of cosmetics, as well as safety evaluations.
The reason why I entered the cosmetics industry in the first place was because I researched aging when I was in university. Back then, joint research with cosmetics manufacturers was being held, so I thought that I could utilize my experience and skill set through those opportunities.
- --13 years is a long time. Why did you decide to change jobs and come to Mandom?
The work I was doing for my previous employer was fun and extensive, but after getting married and having kids, and as my children grew older, I started reconsidering my future career. As I did that, I began to crave a higher level of work, one where I can face my research with an even fresher attitude than the one I had at that time.
The idea that I placed a lot of importance on when I changed jobs was to fully utilize the experience I had cultivated until then. The reason why I decided to join Mandom was due to the fact that it was actively holding academic conference presentations, and was also investing efforts into safety evaluation research.
- --What kind of work are you currently in charge of?
Safety evaluations. Just like my last job. I conduct safety evaluations on new raw materials, and even confirm the safety of formulations to see whether or not they carry risks by performing patch tests, stinging tests, etc. Required safety standards differ depending on each product such as skin care products, deodorants, hair wax, and cleaners, so there is a need to conduct thorough safety evaluations depending on each product's use scenario and intended use.
I also conduct use tests by assuming situations when consumers actually use the products. For example, a product with a strong refreshing sensation would have me thinking about ways to assign warning labels and appeal functions so the consumer will know that this product is geared towards people who like strong cooling sensations. Therefore, even though the same term "safety evaluation" is used for every product, the work that goes behind it is not always the same and there is a need to approach things from various different angles.
- --Are there any major characteristics in your line of work that you feel can only be achieved by a company like Mandom?
One of the things that I strongly felt when I moved to Mandom was the "Only One" attitude towards developing products.
Safety evaluations eliminate risk. In other words, there is a strong element of protection in my line of work. However, there also needs to be an aggressive aspect that seeks functionality in order to satisfy consumers. If you are able to achieve functionality and comfort after thoroughly confirming the safety of a product, then that product will be accepted in the market and help satisfy consumers. That's what we strive for when developing an "Only One" product. This is the strength of Mandom.
One product of that kind of unique research was the evaluation method used for skin sensory stimulation which paid attention to the irritant receptor "TRP (Transient Receptor Potential) channel." This allowed us to develop a deodorant product that balances both a strong cooling sensation and low stimulation.
- --Mandom is also very enthusiastic about researching alternatives to animal testing.
That's correct. The "TRP channel" I explained earlier is one example of that. In addition to that, the company is also researching an original testing method.
For example, I personally have given several presentations at The Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments. In 2016, I reported results regarding evaluations on skin stimulation by products containing mixtures of ethanol at The Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments. In 2017, I reported research results on alternative methods regarding evaluations on stimulation in the vaginal area for an international convention. Then in 2018, I gave a presentation on new skin sensitization test methods.
In this manner, although I am working on original research conducted at Mandom, there are also many cases when I simultaneously conduct joint research with other cosmetics manufacturers, universities, etc. For example, the report on new skin sensitization test methods which won the Poster Award at The Japanese Society for Alternatives to Animal Experiments in 2016 was a joint research initiative conducted with Konan University and the raw materials manufacturer Daicel Corporation. Everyone is joining hands and working together to develop the industry.
- --Even so, why is Mandom able to produce original research results that no one else can?
Once again, I think it's because the "Only One" mentality has disseminated to every nook and corner of the company. The researchers at Mandom all seem to enjoy the work they do.
There's great teamwork on-site at our research facilities, and everyone promotes and shows curiosity towards interesting ideas and proposals regardless of age and position within the company. I think this is what makes it easy to come up with original research results.
- --On the other end of the spectrum, aren't there any areas that you have difficulty with?
In my line of work, it's always necessary to carefully confirm the safety of products at every stage of development, including product design, raw materials, prescription (content) development, product commercialization, and even after it has been released for sale.
Of course, we employ objective testing methods and accumulate data from those methods to release products in accordance with strict safety standards. However, in order to prepare for unforeseen situations, we always pay attention and ask ourselves "are there no more issues regarding safety?" while simultaneously gathering the latest information from the academic society and dermatologists. That is why there is always a sense of anxiety paired with our line of work.
- --So what is it that motivates you to continue your research despite having to work under such pressure?
In the end, I want to create products that consumers will enjoy. No matter how difficult it may have been, the feeling of seeing a product that I was involved in evaluating on store shelves is simply uplifting, and if that product can satisfy consumers, then all of my effort was worth it. That's the real pleasure of research.
In that sense there's no point in "performing research for research." Seeing things from the consumer's perspective and performing research that grasps the concept of finding what's needed to satisfy consumers is what Mandom's Dedication to Service (Oyakudachi) is all about.
- --Finally, please share some of your ambitions for the future.
I want to continue shoring up the element of "protection" in my line of work in order to completely secure the safety of the products we develop, while at the same time also progressing even further by pioneering into the domain of functionality. When it comes to safety evaluation research, there are many things that can be applied to the field of functionality (or as I mentioned earlier, that "aggressive aspect") such as shedding light on the structures and mechanisms of the human body or even raw material development. I want to find a balance between this aggressive and defensive approach while continuing to help develop "Only One" products at Mandom.
(Information as of March 2019.)