Part 2: The Shiseido Factory in Kakegawa, Japan
Recap: last November, I was invited to visit the Shiseido Factory in Kakegawa, Japan. The first part involved a visit to the test facility for raw materials - I saw how Shiseido is currently studying how best to produce their own ingredients. They've built a self-contained unit where they can design the most beneficial environment to grow plants, and hopefully branch out to farming them in bulk in the near future!
We've seen their plans, but this time I'll give you a general view of what they currently make and how they make it in the Kakegawa factory. I don't have a lot of pictures since some areas are naturally restricted, but I figured I can still tell you what I saw.
After the tour of the test facility, Jen (the brand manager of Shiseido Philippines) and I were ushered into a lecture room. Here, two kind ladies gave us a presentation about the factory. They also did some demos on how foundation is made!
So how does Shiseido come up with its awesome beauty products? First, they research and develop new technologies. What do the customers need? How can they better improve on what they already make? Once that's been determined and formulated in their dedicated research centers, the products are tested by a team of experts. Shiseido, as far as I know, does not do animal testing unless required by law. Most if not all products and ingredients are evaluated on human skin.
Once the products pass a rigorous testing system, they are manufactured in the factories and then shipped out to stores. Foundation, powder, lipstick, and eyeshadow are just some of the cosmetics produced in Kakegawa.
I think foundation is one of the main products here. The diagram above shows how it's produced - by mixing the powder and liquid binder, placing the mixture in the compact, and then pressing it down with a heavy metal object (I didn't catch the name!).
Here's how it looks like:
The mixture and metal mold
The press - this stuff is super heavy!
More molds, this time for compact powders
We went on a tour of the factory premises, where we were taken to the production floor of foundations. Before entering, all employees must wear special antibacterial suits and then take an "air shower" in a room (think of those sci-fi movies where people wearing hazmat suits are decontaminated). Everything was well-organized - the floor has strict lines on where one can walk and place their materials/tools.
The factory (at least the areas I got to visit) was also silent. Here in the Philippines, people talk and joke at work, but apparently in Japan everyone is laser-focused on the task at hand. It's in this instance when I realized the vast difference between our culture and theirs.
Another important factoid: Shiseido keeps a batch of their newer products in a special facility. These products are then evaluated periodically, for up to five years, to see if their consistency, texture, etc. has changed. This is a way to know how their products change and age over time, as well as a way to reference any customer complaints they might receive. Once the evaluation period is over, each batch is stored in a massive archive of all Shiseido products that ever existed (located in the neighboring Museum, photo above). That archive goes as far back as 140 years!
If the info above doesn't impress on you just how dedicated Shiseido is to sanitation and quality, I don't know what will!
Moving on! Here are some of the things that are manufactured in Kakegawa. ^_^
This is the Tokyo Skytree Parfum. It was released in 2012 in honor of the completion of the Tokyo Skytree. It's Y63,400 (or roughly P30,000) and only produced in limited quanities - 634 to be exact as the new tower is 634 meters.
Clé de Peau, the most luxurious brand in Shiseido's portfolio. I was able to experience CdP in the Shiseido Flagship Store in Ginza and was thoroughly sticker-shocked. Haha. Well, I'm only half-joking. I remember the concealer costing a little over P3,000. It's not impossibly expensive.
What a gorgeous Clé de Peau compact
One of the most beautiful packaging I ever saw. Euthrixine is one of Shiseido's first products, first released in 1916.
Shiseido actually releases one special scent to commemorate each year. Sadly not available locally!
And here's a bit of important news: Maquillage, one of Shiseido's high-end brands, will be coming to the Philippines this year. The core Shiseido family is almost complete! There's ZA Cosmetics, then Majolica Majorca, Shiseido the brand, and now Maquillage. I wonder if Clé de Peau will ever arrive here? Maybe one day, when the market is ready for it. ^_^
That concludes my Shiseido factory visit. Hope you found it interesting and enlightening! As usual, would love to know what you think.