Japanese cosmetics giant Kao was established in 1887 by Tomiro Nagase as a maker of quality facial soaps. Originally known as Nihon Yuki Company, the brand changed its name to Kao Soap Company in 1940 and eventually to Kao Corporation in 1985 after major business expansions and acquisitions. Kao means “face” in Japanese, alluding to the company’s roots as a facial soap manufacturer. The Japanese kanji characters for Kao (花王) mean the “king of flowers,” and its logo is a new moon symbolizing good luck.
Throughout the years, Kao has grown to become a global corporation, offering a versatile range of beauty, hygiene and household products via over 50 brands. Some of the most popular brands from the group include Biore and Curel for facial skin care; KATE, Kanebo, RMK, Sofina and est for makeup; Molton Brown and Jergens for body care; Goldwell, Liese, Essential and Asience for hair care; MegRhythm for steam masks; Laurier for sanitary pads; Merries for diapers; and Attack for laundry detergents.
Behind Kao’s success is the concept of yoki-monozukuri which emphasizes putting customers first. In Japanese, yoki means “excellent” while monozukuri means “product development and manufacturing.” Built on a solid philosophy of mutual respect, trust and social responsibility, Kao values customer satisfaction and predicts customers’ future needs through innovative research and development.
Skin care brand Biore focuses on pore care with its affordable skin care range. The brand name is a combination of “bio” meaning life and “ore” meaning gold. Starting out with a paste-type facial cleanser back in 1980, the brand develops its formulas according to the Japanese beauty philosophy of functionality and simplicity to deliver long-term results. Besides paste-type cleansers, Biore also offers Foaming Facial Washes and Marshmallow Whip Foams, which deep-cleanse with acne-fighting ingredients in rich, fine and hypoallergenic foam. Another bestseller, the Pore Pack removes blackheads through easy-to-use nose strips packed with sebum-absorbing powder.
Biore’s sunscreens are even more popular. A cult fave among beauty junkies, the award-winning UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is the perfect go-to for summer. The aqueous gel formulation forms an invisible waterproof shield on skin without feeling sticky or leaving any residue, while infused hyaluronic acid and royal jelly keep skin moisturized.
Seeing the increasing demand for men’s skin care, Biore has also launched a men’s line that focuses on sebum control, pore cleansing and tightening, soothing and deodorizing with charcoal and menthol ingredients.
Another original skin care brand from Kao, Curel was born in 1999 to provide medicated hypoallergenic skin care for dry and sensitive skin. The brand name was derived from the words “cure” and “well,” representing the brand’s commitment to finding effective solutions for those in need. Powering its wholesome range of products is ceramide, a substance found naturally in the human body that binds skin cells together and reinforces the skin barrier. Kao successfully developed the functional components of ceramide in 1987, and was one of the first beauty brands to incorporate it in skin care. A heaven-sent for sensitive skin, Curel’s Intensive Moisture Care Cream is formulated without alcohol, fragrances and colorings to ensure utmost safety.
Fusing advanced skin science, time-proven beauty traditions and Japanese sensibilities, cosmetics brand Kanebo is dedicated to promoting its “feel your beauty” philosophy and enriching people’s lives through its skin care, makeup and hair care range. Beginning as a cotton trading company in 1887, Kanebo released its first soap in 1936 and dived into the cosmetics industry one year later. It had already launched a bunch of subsidiary brands, including KATE, LUNASOL, RMK, SUQQU and freeplus, before it was acquired by Kao in 2006. 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.
Kanebo’s same-named main brand adapts 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. Makeup brand KATE is designed for daring city dwellers, using chic and eccentric makeup to stimulate experimentation and transcendence of style. LUNASOL specializes in colorful makeup and moisture-rich foundations, while freeplus uses Japanese and Chinese botanical extracts in its hypoallergenic skin care products. J-Beauty addicts should be quite familiar with the above brands, which are frequent winners of Japan’s @cosme Best Cosmetics Awards.
Kao debuted the groundbreaking MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask in 2007. It reformed people’s lifestyles by setting the trend of using steam eye masks during breaks, after work, while sleeping and even on the plane. Coming in various scents and an unscented version, the convenient self-heating masks relieve tired and puffy eyes while relaxing the mind and encouraging good rest. There are also masks for the face and neck, as well as thermal patches that can be stuck on the body and garments.
Hair care and styling brand Liese is most famous for its Creamy Bubble Hair Color, whose soft foaming formula evenly coats hair strands for uniformly glossy tresses. The hair coloring kit is infused with amino acid and royal jelly to prevent hair damage and prolong hair color. Liese offers hair products tailored for men.
The more you get to know Kao’s many brands and products, the more you’ll see how the Japanese cosmetics company has revolutionized the beauty industry – and how your life can benefit from its innovations. Take a closer look at Kao’s broad array of offerings at YesStyle!