Top page > KASEI-JIN > File.6 Kazunori Kobayashi

Collaborative research and development with the international organic brand in the POLA ORBIS Group

At university, I majored in polymer interface chemistry. I wanted to get a job that would allow me to use the knowledge I gained during my studies to make everyday products, so I applied to a cosmetics company. Upon joining POLA in 2004, I was assigned to the department responsible for developing skin care product formulas (recipes). I was in charge of projects such as developing a milk-type formulation in a prestigious line, and new POLA brand products. That meant I also had to learn about interface chemistry and skin science, which are necessary for formula development.
In 2008, I was transferred to the Shizuoka lab on the premises of the Shizuoka plant in order to gain hands-on experience and improve my development skills with regard to cosmetic products. During my time there, I developed many skin care and makeup products and gained valuable practical experience.
I returned to the Yokohama R&D Center in 2012, in time for the start of a collaborative project with Jurlique and was involved in joint new product development. In 2013, I was dispatched to Jurlique in Australia to make sure that the joint development ended smoothly. Now that the joint development with POLA Chemical Industries has basically finished, my main jobs are to promote Jurlique’s unique new product development and coordinate joint basic research with POLA Chemical.
・Developing new products: From the time I joined the company to when I left Japan for Jurlique, I was involved in the development of around 150 new products. Among these, a luxury line of milk-type emulsions designed to improve skin suppleness and form-fitting facemasks designed to tighten the skin were particularly popular with customers.
・Developing new products at Jurlique: After being dispatched to Australia, I was in charge of the development of the Nutri-Define collection, an all-natural but powerful cleansing performance series (eye makeup remover, oil, gel, foaming cleanser), in collaboration with POLA Chemical. As Jurlique products can contain only natural ingredients, it was a challenge to create formulas that had the desired quality. However, thanks to the skills I acquired in Japan, we eventually succeeded in developing some outstanding products. I still struggle with communicating in English, but my time in Australia taught me that as long as you have the technical skills and ability, it is possible to do well overseas.
My most memorable experiences all comprise struggles encountered during formula development. In fact, I don’t remember one product development that went smoothly! Problems arise all of the time during formula development. You are always saying things like, “Not again!” and, “What is it this time?!”, so it is a constant battle to stay positive. Overcoming these issues to reach the final stage of a product release, I always felt a surge of pride with thoughts such as, “I did my best” and, “I think this product is going to do well” running through my mind.

The occasion that stands out the most for me was the development of milk-type formulation in POLA’s prestigious line. It was only my second year of working for the company. I didn’t know much about development and fumbled my way through it. No matter how many times I tried, the prototypes were unstable and didn’t result in any satisfactory textures when applied to the skin, and it ultimately took over 300 attempts to come up with something that worked. I remember thinking, “Wow, making cosmetics is really hard!” However, thanks to those struggles, the basics of development–how cosmetics are produced and which processes require extra attention–became automatic for me, and they still pay off in my work today. There is a Japanese saying: “You should be willing to go through struggles when you are young; they are worth every penny”; my experiences in product development have shown me how true that is.
・Have confidence: I often come up against a wall during the course of my work. When that happens, rather than deciding I can’t do something so I won’t even try, I make a point of believing that even if I can’t do it right now, I will eventually succeed if I continue to work at it. Sometimes, other people will give up on themselves, but I have to at least believe in myself.
・Be humble: I want to be the best. To achieve that, I have to take on board all of the positive qualities of the people around me. I need to let go of any misplaced sense of pride and biases, and be open to tackling everything that comes my way.
・Keep your word: I want to be able to trust and rely on my colleagues and I want them to think of me in the same way. That means I have to always keep my word. Regardless of how big or small a promise is, always keep your word. It’s tempting to make excuses, but in the end you are responsible for the promises you make. I always try to apologize without making excuses.

I am not always successful at implementing each of these mottos, but it is important to me to keep on trying to follow them.
It’s definitely not easy to create a product (story, texture, efficacy) that impresses the customer. It involves coming up with an attractive product story, selecting the right active ingredients, and creating a texture that makes the customer think, “I want to use it again!” The formula also has to have outstanding stability and safety and meet different countries’ standards. In the case of Jurlique, these goals have to be reached based on natural ingredients, which reduces the options and sets the bar extremely high. You always have to keep your eyes open for new information, and then study and experiment to find ways to utilize the data. Meanwhile, all of this has to be completed within a limited amount of time, so you are always under pressure. However, there is also nothing like the feeling you get when seeing a product you have developed being manufactured in the factory and displayed at the local department store, and hearing the favorable reviews from satisfied customers. My products are like my children. I feel proud when they do well internationally as well as in Japan.
In terms of behavior, I think people with the following traits are suited to product development.
(1) Active intellectual curiosity: “Wants to know about many different things; persistently seeks knowledge”.
(2) Tenacity: “Does not get discouraged, but keeps on going even when things don’t go well”.
(3) Optimism: “Finds the positive side of things and doesn’t get stressed even when things are going badly”.

In terms of practical ability, the following skills are required.
(1) Project design and management ability: “Can create a 5W1H scenario to show how to reach the goal and has the ability to follow that through”.
(2) Formula design ability: “Knowledge of interface chemistry and cosmetic ingredients; logical-thinking and analytical abilities for problem solving”.
(3) Communication ability to clearly convey messages: “In English and in Japanese”.
I have a bamboo paddle, made by myself, that is used to stir or mix emulsions when making prototype products at beaker scale. On joining the company, my first job in my new department was to make this paddle. In the 11 years since, it hasn’t left my side once, even for a moment, and together, we have overcome a multitude of problems. I even took it to Australia with me. It is like a part of my body; I can’t do without it.

I want even more customers to experience and feel satisfied with our POLA ORBIS Group products. I also want POLA employees to feel fulfilled. To achieve this, what I should do is develop and deliver products with high efficacy and texture that satisfies our customers.
My goals for the next few years are to raise the overall level of the R&D capabilities at Jurlique to world top-class and improve customer satisfaction. I’ve been working on achieving these goals every day.

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File.7 Makeup Products R&D, Products R&D Department / B.A Research Center
Ayako Seino


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