【Japanese Beauty Vol.4】The Story Behind The Miracle -DECORTÉ “Moisture Liposome”

Every day, new cosmetics are brought to life in the world. How many of them are known as “cult classics”? Of course each person has different preferences and products to “work” but there are ones anyone would say they swear by; DECORTÉ’s “Moisture Liposome”.

“I don’t think anyone would have even guessed this product would represent the brand in the future.” “We have been together for 25 years.” “There isn’t a single day this product isn’t sold and makes us all proud.” Anyone and everyone we talked to were gleaming. Why is this product so loved? We introduce the story behind the essence in the purple bottle, the Moisture Liposome.

“This is our number one out of DECORTÉ”, says Sub Chief of Ginza Matsuya DECORTÉ, Eri Sakurai. By number one, she means the product with one of the highest repeat rate. “During Spring and Autumn, makeup products take over the top sellers but Moisture Liposome constantly remains in the TOP3 and there are customers that have been using this for 10 to 20 years. Every year we release a limited edition bottle for Moisture Liposome and customers rush to the counter to get their hands on them. We also have customers that buy in bulks to stock for one whole year.”

The fame of the Moisture Liposome is astonishing. “There are customers who have never purchased the Moisture Liposome but know of the product. We also have foreign customers that come just for this.” (Sakurai)

At the store, they make sure to give out enough samples for customers to try out twice a day; morning and night. “This essence shows its true powers with more use. So, we make sure to hand out testers to last more than three days.” There are many customers that “come back” after trying the testers to purchase the products.

“We hear voices from our customers that have been using Moisture Liposome that it is irreplaceable. This is also for me personally, but this is more than a skin care product. It balances the skin for women busy with work and children.”

Why users demand for this essence… This is because its true potential is obvious when customers stop use. “One of our customers visited the store and said her skin changed ever since she stopped using Moisture Liposome. You don’t realize the importance until it’s gone. Honestly, its existence is like a lover.”

Around 80% of customers that stopped using Moisture Liposome answered they would return to using the product again. As you can see, Moisture Liposome is essential to users.

Moisture Liposome users’ top skin problem is “dryness”. If your skin feels rough in the evening, it is evidence the water balance in the skin is decreasing and is losing moisture. “Moisture Liposome will retain moisture deeper and longer in the skin. We strongly recommend this to anyone dealing with dryness. We suggest using larger amounts of the product when your skin needs some extra care.” (Sakurai) She also taught us her usual skin care routine with Moisture Liposome.

“Usually we recommend two to three pushes of product but when my skin is struggling, I take a bit more than usual and blend this in my entire face. After this, I use emulsion and a lotion pack. This product also enhances the effects of later used cosmetics. We recommend the Moisture Liposome for any skin problems.”

Sakurai herself is a devoted user of this essence. “When I come home exhausted, I immediately go to bed but I never forget to use the Moisture Liposome.” (Sakurai)

DECORTÉ’s cult classic “Moisture Liposome”; this essence was brought to life by former Chief and current Executive Director at Kose, Noboru Naito. He is widely known in the beauty industry and is the key person to liposome.

The key to the birth of this essence was of course, “liposome”. “Liposome is in short, a multi layered capsule. Serum ingredients are trapped in a capsule of multiple layers (imagine an onion) and delivers them deep within the skin. In the medical field, products with liposome technology were common but were still not introduced in the beauty industry.” (Naito)

Naito’s first encounter with liposome was not exactly how we imagined. “Now that I think of it, I was extremely lucky. It was merely a coincidence. My ex-boss handed me a document about liposome. He meant to participate in a workshop on ‘ribosome’ but instead went to a workshop on ‘liposome’. ‘Ribosome’ is a cell of a living organism and ‘liposome’ is a microcapsule similar to the structure of a cell membrane. The workshops were completely different from his specializing field and handed me the documents because he didn’t need it. But this document ended up being very interesting. I was intrigued with the structure of the ‘onion’ like cell and started my research on liposome.”

If his ex-boss didn’t make a mistake, Naito wouldn’t have encountered liposome at all… He realized upon his research, liposome was still new in the medical field and was not introduced in the beauty industry. “I thought this was my chance. It was a mere coincidence but I didn’t think there was a single thing cosmetics couldn’t win over medication.” Naito hurriedly began his research but he immediately hits an obstacle!

“Cosmetics need to be safe for customers to use. To become a product, there were many strict quality checks. To combine liposome in cosmetics, it was mandatory for the formula to stay stable under room temperature for 3 years. To clear this goal, we asked a specialist of liposome that works in the medical field. He laughed that I was doing the impossible. Since liposome is a very fine capsule, the smallest impact would destroy the structure. It wouldn’t last a year, more or less three full years.” But Naito did not give up. “I didn’t think it was going to be this impossible but felt like it was a waste to give up now. I had to somehow find a stable formula.”

Kose Executive Director, Noboru Naito spent 8 years researching liposome. “To combine such fine liposome with multiple layers were not easy. Before I realized it, 8 years had gone by. Now that I think of it, I was extremely lucky.” (Naito)

Liposome and its multiple layers are made with “phospholipids”; also known as the skin’s component. Phospholipids have a high affinity with both oil and water and because each layer peels off one by one, serum ingredients can be delivered deep into the skin by trapping in the capsule. “If we could perfect the structure of phospholipids, I thought I could do the impossible; a cosmetic with the technology of liposome.” He began his selection of materials for his formulation.

Naito featured a “natural” phospholipid. “The size of the onion like capsule was also important. If the size was too big, it wouldn’t permeate deep within the skin so it was a constant battle to how small we could keep the delicate capsule. Also, phospholipids easily oxidize so we had to design for the stability of the capsule.” (Naito) With obstacle after obstacle, Naito was blessed with more luck!

“We tried everything for shrinking liposome, like implementing a ‘high pressure emulsifier’, a first in the beauty industry, increasing the purity of the phospholipid to strengthen the capsule, combining cholesterol to prevent the liposome from oxidizing… We were lucky to be able to experiment with different materials along the evolution of technology.” (Naito)

The final diameter of the completed liposome was 0.1 micrometer, 1/10,000 of 1 millimeter. These researches realize the high permeation of the Moisture Liposome.

“We completed the base of the essence in 3 years but we had more and more obstacles…this was a very demanding process.” (Naito) This is due to the fact products that claimed to be liposome began to circulate the market and the government suspected the safety and created guidelines for liposome cosmetics. “We were so close to our goal but it kept on getting further away. But I knew that if I gave up, all of our effort was down the drain. Never ending days of research to gather data to prove our product’s safety continued.” (Naito)

Gathering data was demanding and time consuming, but luck was on Naito’s side! He was able to find evidence the product was pure liposome. “I was delighted when I was able to photograph the multiple layered liposome through the Electron microscope. It’s considered a miracle and is even printed on the introduction package insert for Liposome.” (Naito)

After setting tasks to clear the remaining guidelines, Kose was finally able to label their product as “liposome”. “After 8 years with liposome, we were finally able to align with others cosmetics in the beauty industry.” (Naito)

Hiroko Ishii joined the task force to release a new essence from DECORTÉ with the research group. She is now in charge of product development exclusively for skin care products at DECORTÉ.

Moisture Liposome is now known as a long seller but when it was first introduced at the launch party, I was shocked.” (Ishii) Even for Ishii who has been in charge of product development for countless cosmetics, the release of Moisture Liposome was impressive.

“Back in the day, essences would have a rich, thick texture that felt dense and packed with serum ingredients but the research laboratory proposed a watery, smooth texture. Even within the same company, people who tried the samples doubted the texture of the essence.”

But the very same people started to notice the change in their skin, “Your skin doesn’t immediately get firm or glossy but instead it over all improves the skin and cancels dryness. I was genuinely surprised and I realized this was the characteristic of the brand, DECORTÉ. We don’t offer a drastic change but instead maintain your daily skin condition… We were proud of this essence and of course we still had doubts but there were no doubts women wouldn’t accept our product.” (Ishii)

Booster essences have been released from multiple brands but DECORTÉhas been introducing “an essence to use after face wash” even before there was a category for “booster”. “We recommended using face wash, emulsion, lotion, and then Moisture Liposome. But liposome also functions to normalize the pH balance in the skin. Since it also blends with the skin and enhances later used products, we started recommending use straight after face wash.” (Ishii)

The birth of the “booster” product was the outcome of blood, sweat and tears of dedication from gathering proper evidence!

Moisture Liposome was released in 1992. Ishii says, “This was my happiest moment ever since I started dealing with new products.” But little did she know, the customers and the beauty advisors at the stores weren’t impressed.

The beauty advisors and retailers doubted the smooth, watery texture of the Moisture Liposome. “So to persuade the workers at our company, we held workshops at stores all over the country.” (Ishii)

By directly having a conversation with our retailers and workers, they started to understand the value of Moisture Liposome. Gradually, Ishii was able to persuade and make obvious the true powers of the product. For 25 years from 1992, approximately 7 million bottles of the essence with the “perfect formula” were sold. DECORTÉ’s Moisture Liposome has now become a cult classic.

DECORTÉ Moisture Liposome
40mL 10,800 Yen
60mL 14,580 Yen

Immediately after the release of the essence, words of a “lotion” circulated the beauty industry. People wanted a liposome lotion and Kose workers felt the same. The research laboratory was already on the go.

“I think the biggest playing factor was our customers. Dedicated users of the essence would ask for a lotion.” (Akane Naito) “When I first joined Kose, the essence was the face of our brand and to implement the very same technology for a lotion most women in Japan would use was a massive responsibility.” (Naito)

Naito says, “The development for a lotion had already begun before I joined Kose.”

We also asked Ishii, working in the product development… “After the release for the essence, we were already developing a lotion and emulsion. We were close to a finalized product, but it was never released.” Why was that?

“We couldn’t find the exact characteristic of the lotion. We were going to use liposome, but we didn’t want people to think the lotion was just a diluted version of the essence and the phospholipids for the essence would have a sticky texture. At the time, globalization was in the picture and we were developing a texture any country in the world would accept.” (Naito)

What characteristics should the liposome lotion own? The product development team wiped the slate clean.

The researching team was also conflicted with the next step for liposome. The liposome for the essence was formulated for its stability and the quality of the capsule so to implement this for the lotion led to complications.

“When in contact with water, the particles of the liposome move around, hitting each other and resulting in breaking apart. So the thick film of the liposome that was perfect for an essence wasn’t appropriate for a lotion. At the time, the whole team was going through trial and error, desperately looking for a hint.” (Naito)

“We think a lotion is like ‘miso soup’. It’s full of nutrients and we never grow bored of it. But when we only have a bowl of rice, we crave for miso soup. Something just feels off… We want our lotion to be like that. For a comfortable texture that never stresses the skin.”

Naito and the team finally decided to take a step forward. They were to soften the film around liposome. “The onion like structured capsule was firm and offered high protection. So to soften this film…I thought it was reckless but this took us closer to completing the lotion.” (Naito)

They launched a development of a new liposome by combining the current phospholipid and a new phospholipid (activating phospholipid). By softening the film, the liposome structure in the lotion is stable and can be delivered to the skin. While maintaining the function to deliver nutrients to the stratum corneum, this new technology allowed a soft, comfortable touch to the skin; a technology only for the perfect lotion.

With the knowledge and experience of the essence, DECORTÉ was able to realize a lotion. In 2015, the “DECORTÉ Liposome Treatment Liquid” was released.

DECORTÉ Liposome Treatment Liquid
100mL 6,480 Yen
170mL 10,800 Yen

The completed lotion heightened Naito’s desire for research. “We don’t think we have yet discovered the possibilities and true value of liposome technology. We will continue to establish and unveil the power of liposome and evolve together.”

This year is Moisture Liposome’s 25th anniversary. Father of liposome, Naito claims, “I didn’t expect this essence would be loved and appreciated by so many people. Honestly I’m just happy. This essence will stay essential for women and their skin care. I’m so glad I didn’t give up.”

Moisture Liposome’s 25th anniversary website is opening on November 1st and is also holding a limited event. Expect the best for 30, 50 years in the future for the irreplaceable essence and more cosmetics to be released!

New limited large size launch from November 1st.
Limited packaging inspired by a kaleidoscope for its 25th anniversary!

DECORTÉ Moisture Liposome
85mL 16,200 Yen
2017/11/1 Limited amount.

【Noboru Naito】
Kose Executive Director and Doctor of Engineering. Joined Kose in 1977. Dedicated to the evolution of the beauty industry, tackling obstacles within researches and doing the impossible. Known as the father of “Moisture Liposome” and earns respect from beauty journalists and writers.

【Hiroko Ishii】
Works in product development at DECORTÉ. After working as DECORTÉ exclusive adviser and beauty advisor, transferred to product development in 1988. Exclusively working at DECORTÉ in product development from 1996. Her talents and dedicated research realizes the birth of multiple products with her abundant knowledge of DECORTÉ.

【Akane Naito】
Skin Care Product Research Kose Laboratory. Joined Kose in 2004. Assigned at base makeup product research laboratory. Transferred to skin care product research laboratory from 2006 and has been in product development. Was in charge of developing products other than “Liposome Treatment Liquid”, such as AQ MW, AQ Meliority, Prime Latte. A mother of 2 children and has flawless skin. Of course, is a dedicated user of Liposome.

【Eri Sakurai】
Sub Chief of DECORTÉ Matsuya Ginza Corner. Joined Kose in October, 2002. 15th year as a beauty advisor. In charge of sales at the DECORTÉdepartment store counter in Tokyo. Educated 9 members of the group as Sub Chief from 2009. “Since we often have customers visiting from outside Japan, I’m working on mastering foreign languages!”

Photograph / Daichi Saito
Interview・Text / Mayumi Hasegawa

※Our pages are translations of articles published on Japan's @cosme. All products introduced in the articles are sold in Japan.