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The rewards of constantly taking on challenges: discovering the relationship between subcutaneous tissue structure and skin sagging

Since joining the company in 2007, I have been conducting research on the mechanisms of skin aging, namely pigmentation spots, wrinkles and sagging. My current focus is sagging, one of the top age-related skin concerns. Loss of elasticity is considered to be one of the causes of skin sagging; however, there are still many unknown factors and we have yet to discover a way to delay or solve this problem. My research goal is to clarify the mechanisms underlying sagging by understanding age-related changes in the entire skin, including both the dermis (the lower layer of the skin) and the subcutaneous tissue below.
In my third year with the company, I was given the responsibility of kick-starting a new research project in the field of skin brightening. At the time, mainstream skin-brightening cosmetics were focused on deterring the development of pigmentation spots. We went for a new approach aimed at improvement rather than prevention, specifically by eliminating existing pigmentation spots, and identified the mechanism underlying pigmentation spots in the bottom layer of the skin. Our research findings were highly acclaimed and we received an award in 2012 from the international authority on pigment cell research, the PanAmerican Society for Pigment Cell Research. These findings were applied to create POLA’s ‘White Shot Clear Serum SX’, enabling many customers to experience the benefits of our findings.
Since then, I have expanded my research to investigate not only the dermis, but also the aging of the skin as a whole, including the subcutaneous tissue. Focusing on the thick fiber structure in the subcutaneous tissue, we showed for the first time that these fibers decrease in number with age, causing sagging. This research received the Award for Best Oral Presentation at the 23rd International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) Conference in 2015.
My current research topic is elucidating the mechanisms of aging in the entire skin, including the subcutaneous tissue. Subcutaneous tissue was a largely unexplored field. As such, it was a challenge for someone like me, who had previously specialized in research related to the dermis; however, it was also an opportunity to break new ground in a new area of research.
In order to fill the gaps in my knowledge at the start of the project, I read stacks of papers, interviewed experts and gathered as much data as I could. I discovered that subcutaneous tissue, which was previously believed to be mainly composed of fat, actually contains an extended net-like fibrous structure. I hypothesized that this structure might be strongly related to sagging.
There are no words to describe my excitement when we investigated this hypothesis in women over a wide range of age groups and found it to be true.
Fundamentally, I’m the kind of person who feels rewarded by trying new things and uncovering new knowledge, so my motto is, “Don’t be bound by stereotypes and always take on new challenges.” This approach has been successful in my current research–all of my results to date have been possible only because I was able to throw out the common assumption that ‘skin care’ targets ‘the dermis’ and establish a new research topic from scratch.
While this attitude also exposes me to many challenges and there are times when I am discouraged by failure, I have always been supported by those around me. I couldn’t have achieved this by myself.

There are still many unknown aspects in my current research and repeated trial and error lies ahead. However, that is also where the rewards lie in this job–in discovering new things. Receiving a top award at the 2015 IFSCC Conference, the “Olympics of the cosmetics world”, was a reward for all the struggles up to that point. My goal is to keep on working steadily to deliver products and beauty regimens that tackle the fundamental causes of sagging.
In order to discover the unknown, you need the courage and energy to face challenges and not be afraid of failure.
When I first set out with my research into sagging, I needed to find ways to visualize the internal structure of the subcutaneous tissue without damaging the skin and a technique for the quantitative evaluation of the skin. Through joint research projects, repeated trial and error and by applying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a non-invasive inspection technology, we came up with a new evaluation technique. The knowledge, skills and experience I gained through that process still serve as valuable assets to me today.
A sample bottle of the first product I ever developed is still carefully displayed on my desk. Whenever I look at that bottle, I remember the happiness and sense of achievement I felt when that product went on sale. Many months and years are needed to obtain results from basic research, so it is inevitable that you will run into challenges and feel like giving up. Looking at the bottle reminds me of that and it inspires me.

My ultimate goal is to make sure that no one in the world has to worry about wrinkles or sagging skin and to enable as many people as possible to lead fulfilling lives.
The face is an important element of human beauty and it is not uncommon for skin problems to prevent people from living their lives to the fullest. I believe that makeup has the power to change people on the inside by giving them a more optimistic outlook and encouraging them to go out and face the world. Cosmetics bring out both outer and inner beauty and help people to feel more positive in their daily lives. This is my calling. I want to lead the way for the cosmetics industry in the field of anti-aging, which has been my focus since joining the company.
Keeping my eyes on the horizon, I intend to continue taking on new challenges without settling for convention.


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