Cosmetic cotton is now widely available, but it was born in Hiroshima. The man behind it was Yukio Ideshita, and he created it out of compassion.
However, he did not succeed overnight.
It all began at the sales company.
It all began at the Shiseido sales company in Hiroshima on one cold morning in 1961.
Yukio Ideshita, the managing director at the Shiseido sales company in Hiroshima arrived the office to find Beauty Consultants already busy at work. Their breath was white from the chill, and they were massaging their cold hands between tearing and cutting sheets of cotton.
Ideshita wondered what they were doing and asked. “Why are you cutting the cotton?” One Beauty Consultant looked up and replied without stopping her hands.
“These are for customers to try deLuxe. They may not feel comfortable us touching their skin directly. Besides, it’s easier to show the dosage on a piece of cotton.”
Ideshita agreed, because it would feel more pleasant to try deLuxe.
But cutting sheets of cotton every day is a time-consuming burden to them. It bothered him for some time.
He wanted to do something about this extra work.
Then, one day, he was inspired.
“Let me make cosmetic cotton.”
And so it began.
Excited Ideshita proceeded right away.
He consulted an outside director to look for a company that can manufacture cosmetic cotton.He shared how Beauty Consultants spent their morning every day and that he wanted them to focus on serving customers instead.
The Outside Director smiled and said he would speak with the cotton manufacturer he knew.
By late afternoon, Ideshita was speaking with Sanyo Cotton Industry (now Sanyo Corporation), a local manufacturer of cotton for bedding and medical use.The next day, he visited the factory director to request in person, and he did not hesitate to oblige.
On his way back to the office, Ideshita was feeling positive and confident.
Everything was going great!
Little did he know he was about to face challenges.
A prototype was made,
“Here’s the prototype. What do you think?”
The factory director himself drove a tricycle truck and brought it to Ideshita. He and Beauty Consultants took some lotion on to the cotton. It absorbed it instantly. They excitedly put it against their skin, but…
It felt awful. Perhaps the fiber was too hard.
They continued to glide it against the cheeks and neck.
Ideshita was shocked, because it would not release the lotion into the skin.
Everyone was disappointed.
It would not serve as cosmetic cotton if it could not deliver the lotion to the skin.
Unlike cotton for other uses, cosmetic cotton needed more than good absorption.
The first prototype was a complete failure.
As they went through more prototypes, Beauty Consultants also made many requests and suggestions.
Ideshita was almost ready to give up, but the factory director remained confident.
“I promise we’ll make it happen. Let’s just keep trying.”
After numerous prototypes,
The factory at Sanyo Cotton Industry was in operation day and night. The six workers including the factory director were wiping sweat off their face as they worked on another prototype. They had made countless trips to the sales company to discuss with Beauty Consultants.
“It’s too thin, the lotion seeps through to the other side.” “It’s difficult to hold it between fingers.” They carefully listened to every comment, looked for a solution, and delivered. There was no precedent to research or study. However, they were determined to make the cosmetic cotton that could satisfy everyone. It was a matter of the factory’s pride.
The factory director was moved by Ideshita’s enthusiasm from the very first time they met. As an engineer, he wanted to craft a masterpiece for him. From that day, all he could think of was cosmetic cotton.
“How can we achieve the texture they’re looking for?” “How can we get both excellent absorption and release?” As he studied the prototypes and feedback, he realized one thing. It was the fiber. He had been using thick, short fiber. How about a thinner, longer one…?
He stood up and called his staff. “Bring as many types of raw cotton as you can!” He might fail again, but his determination was stronger than ever.
Please, give it a try.”
Ideshita and Beauty Consultants had already lost count how many prototypes they had gone through. They reached out. The cotton felt soft, and gentle to the touch. It released the lotion beautifully. Excitedly, Ideshita grabbed the factory director’s hands.
At last, cosmetic cotton was born in 1962.
“Thank you very much.”
Ideshita bowed gratefully. It was a sign of appreciation and respect. The cotton was given to Beauty Consultants to use at the stores. The customers were pleased. Some of them even asked for a few to take home.
The smooth touch of the cotton changed consumer attitude toward skincare. “I had no idea lotion can feel so good.” A customer smiled as she held deLuxe.
The word spread quickly and the sales of deLuxe increased dramatically. Many retailers requested to use the cosmetic cotton. In 1963, it was launched at all Shiseido stores in Japan.
Furthermore, Shiseido began selling it for home use and exporting it internationally 4 years later. The Japanese ritual of using cotton became an integral part of skincare all over the world.
More than 50 years since its inception, The Ginza Specialty Cotton is available in 9 types and loved by many. The superb quality and function gently protect the skin.
The Ginza Specialty Cotton was born out of Omotenashi, the Japanese spirit of hospitality, and it will continue to evolve.