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The Story of Kanebo
Tokyo-based cosmetic giant Kanebo owns a diverse portfolio of skin care and makeup brands, many of which have become household names for J-Beauty addicts and frequent winners of the reputable @cosme Best Cosmetics Awards. The company currently distributes its products through multiple channels to over 50 countries and regions across the world.
From Cotton to Cosmetics
Starting out as a cotton trading company in 1887, Kanebo later shifted to producing silk, which eventually inspired the company to launch its first skin care product – the silk-extract-infused Savon de Soie soap in 1936. Kanebo entered the cosmetics industry one year later by offering creams, lotions, pomades, face powders and shampoos.
From 1950 to 1990, Kanebo made multiple breakthroughs via its legendary products, which include Japan's first hydrophilic cold cream in 1951, first mildly acidic lotion in 1952, first anti-aging cream in 1960, and first beauty device in 1967. It also contributed to the use and development of oil-soluble Vitamin C in brightening products, water-soluble silk fibroin in cosmetics, and adiponectin to stimulate hyaluronic acid production in skin cells.
Kanebo then continued to launch numerous subsidiary brands, including its eponymous brand Kanebo alongside the notable brands SENSAI, KATE, LUNASOL and Freeplus. The mother company together with its subsidiaries were acquired by Kao in 2006, while its toiletries, pharmaceuticals and food divisions broke off to form the individual company Kracie.
Feel Your Beauty
Fusing advanced skin science, time-proven beauty traditions and Japanese sensibilities, Kanebo is dedicated to promoting its “feel your beauty” philosophy and enriching people’s lives through its skin care, makeup and hair care range. The company believes that a spirit awoken to beauty will set things in motion, and it's determined to create a joyful world by helping more and more people look and feel their best. In the effort to realize its mission, Kanebo rolled out a rebranding campaign in 2019, using the themes of “I hope” and “going beyond beauty” to encourage women to embrace their individual beauty. The campaign is anchored by a TV ad embracing gender inclusivity, and a range of makeup with greater flexibility in color and texture.
Kanebo’s same-named flagship brand adopts a “chrono beauty” concept by focusing on the natural rhythm of a woman’s skin changes over time and providing optimal care at the right time. The skin care and makeup brand is famous for its capsulated Refreshing Powder Wash containing protein and amino-acid-based cleansing ingredients to unclog pores. It's also known for its Softening Cleansing Cream, which removes makeup while nourishing skin with rosehip oil, and its Smoothing Serum which exfoliates skin with a single wipe.
Literally meaning "delicate" (繊細), luxury brand SENSAI combines Japanese "sense" and "science" to attain luminous, silky smooth skin. This is done by utilizing extracts from Japan's rare Koishimaru silk, which helps to stimulate the natural synthesis of hyaluronic acid in skin.
SENSAI's routine-oriented skin care, body care and makeup ranges take cue from Saho, a three-step ritual in Japanese tea ceremony to bring a moment of serenity to the mind and body. The routine involves double cleansing, double moisturizing and double application. Notable items from the brand include its first perfume SENSAI The Silk, Bronzing Gel, Glowing Base and Cellular Performance Cream as well as foundations and Total Lip Treatment from the Cellular Performance line.
Taking its name from the Japanese for “watercolor” (水彩), skin care brand Suisai uses pure ingredients that mirror the immaculate purity of water for flawless, luscious skin. With an avid user base in their 20s, the brand is deeply rooted in time-tested processes and age-old Japanese fermentation methods that restore and rehydrate skin, producing hit cleansers such as the capsulated, enzyme-activated Suisai Beauty Clear Powder Wash.
Living up to its motto "no more rules," makeup brand KATE is designed for daring city dwellers, using chic and eccentric makeup to stimulate experimentation and transcendence of style. Notable eye makeup from KATE include the Lash Maximizer, a mascara base that sets the premise of long-lasting curves, and the Super Sharp Liner which boasts a Spun Silk Technology Brush co-developed with Pentel. Also popular is its CC Lip Cream, a tinted lip balm fortified with hyaluronic acid and SPF 11 PA+ to protect lips.
LUNASOL specializes in colorful makeup and moisture-rich foundations. Covering a wide array of products spanning from face and nail makeup to tools and essential skin care, the brand takes pride in its innovative lightweight formulas and carefully curated makeup spectrum that accommodates all skin tones. The brand counts its Contrasting Color eye shadow palette among its bestsellers.
Freeplus uses time-honored Japanese and Chinese botanical extracts such as jujube, citrus peel, peach kernels, coix seeds, glycyrrhizin and cnidium rhizome in its hypoallergenic skin care products. The brand carries four lines: Cleansing, Moisturizing, Nourishing & Firming and Base Makeup. Like other brands from Kanebo, Freeplus is most celebrated for its cleansers, such as the slightly acidic Mild Soap creamy face wash. This soft foam cleanser is formulated without parabens, fragrances, colorings, alcohol or mineral oil.
Other brands by Kanebo
Kanebo's extensive portfolio doesn’t stop here. Makeup brand Coffret D’or – meaning a golden box – unleashes your playful side with fanciful base and point makeup. Skin care and base makeup brand Dew combines hyaluronic acid with shell ginger leaf extract to create highly moisturizing, quick absorbing and pleasantly scented products that make your daily skin care routine a pleasurable experience. Founded in 2000 for women in their 50s, EVITA challenges age constraints with its line-up of skin care, base makeup, hair dyes and hair styling products. L’EQUIL and LISSAGE are hair care brands, the former specializing in dandruff treatments and the latter offering quick solutions for a hectic lifestyle. Impress explores the importance of application methods via its anti-aging skin care range.
Other Kanebo brands include TWANY which carries multiple lines of skin care and makeup, ALLIE which is best known for its Extra UV Facial Gel, BLANCHIR which focuses on brightening products, Freshel which aims to refresh thirsty skin, the Renaissance-inspired Milano Collection which is famed for face powders, and CHICCA which promotes radiant, barely-there makeup looks. Driven by local creativity and expertise, Kanebo's portfolio will likely keep growing to cater to its diverse customer base.