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Research report

Research report

The researchers are dedicating themselves every day to research activities for customer satisfaction.
We asked them about their research outcomes.

Report file Vol.4
Acne research: giving women one less thing to worry about!

Q.How did you get started in acne research?


You often hear women who have problems with premenstrual acne saying things like “My skin condition always gets worse before my period” and “I get acne every month without fail”.
I used to suffer from acne myself and I can completely empathize with those who feel down when even just one pimple appears.
I got into this line of research because I wanted to help women who suffer month after month because of their acne.


Q.How many women are affected by premenstrual acne?

Fig. 1. Possible causes of acne

When we asked Caucasian and Asian women in their 20s to 40s “What do you think causes your acne?” the majority of them responded “My menstrual cycle” (Fig. 1). This shows that many women believe that the menstrual cycle is responsible for their acne and that the problem of premenstrual acne does not exist only in Asia, but is a common concern for women around the world, including in Europe and the United States.

Q.Do humans have any way to protect themselves from acne?

Fig. 2. hBD-3 suppresses the action of acne bacteria

Human skin has an innate defense mechanism that produces so-called ‘antimicrobial peptides’.
There are over 20 kinds of these peptides and they protect our bodies by destroying pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Hypothesizing that they suppress the action of acne bacteria responsible for acne, we investigated the activity of a typical antimicrobial peptide.
We showed for the first time that the antimicrobial peptide hBD-3 has antibacterial activity against acne bacteria. This suggests that hBD-3 usually prevents acne in humans from developing or getting worse (Fig. 2).

Q.Why does acne get worse before menstruation?

Fig. 3. Female hormones decrease hBD-3 levels Fig. 4. How premenstrual acne gets worse

The amount of female hormones produced within a woman’s body changes periodically. We investigated whether these changes affect the antimicrobial peptides in some way, contributing to worsening acne.
Before menstruation, a large amount of progesterone, one of the female hormones, is produced and released.
We discovered that progesterone decreases the expression of hBD-3, the antimicrobial peptide that protects the skin from acne bacteria (Fig. 3).
In other words, the skin is usually protected from acne bacteria by hBD-3; however, premenstrual progesterone decreases the amount of hBD-3 in the skin, allowing some of the acne bacteria to remain, which causes acne to get worse (Fig. 4).

Our research findings in this area earned us the top award at the 28th International Congress of the Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC), the world’s most prestigious cosmetic association.
We identified a plant extract that prevents the progesterone-related decrease of hBD-3 and have incorporated this ingredient in products that maintain the skin’s natural antibacterial ability to help prevent premenstrual acne from getting worse.

Q.Talk about where your research is going to go from here.


I plan to continue with research that is focused on consumers, is relevant to their daily lives, and provides practical solutions to their skin problems. I want our research findings to be applied to products that will benefit our customers.

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