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Psychological Research

Haptics Research

■We explore human touch to develop better cosmetics

Our sense of touch, also called tactile perception, is one of most important senses, and it is through this sense that we directly experience our own skin. For example, healthy, youthful skin is soft to touch and our experience of properties such as softness is through touching the skin. And so, increasing our understanding of tactile perception is incredibly important to help us develop of new, exciting and effective products.
Our group of tactile perception specialists are using an eclectic range of research methods from consumer research, psychology and engineering. Together with world renowned universities, we scientifically explore, measure and explain the mechanisms of how cosmetics interact with skin enhancing its softness and creating positive emotions such as joy and excitement.
Everyone knows that soft skin is desirable. In the past, skin softness was thought to be only related to its elasticity or flexibility. However, through our scientific investigation of consumer tactile experiences, we discovered that surface friction also plays an important role in how we experience the softness of our skin. *1 Our cosmetic developers build on this discovery by scientifically testing the surface friction properties of cosmetics, developing new products which maximize the feeling of softness and thus enjoyment that our customers experience.
Consumers from all over the world are involved in this testing, allowing us to gain valuable insights into regional differences in skin properties, beauty behavior and environment. Because we feel strongly that it is vital to contribute to human knowledge, we share our research results with academic researchers in academic conferences and journals, as well as with the general public via media presentations.

  1. *1: N. Arakawa et al, IEEE World Haptics Conference (2019)

A scene of psychophysical experiment, in which human tactile sensations are objectively measured

A scene of psychophysical experiment, in which human tactile sensations are objectively measured

■We develop original tactile sensors which can measure the touch experiences of consumers.

Skin care and the feeling of our skin after we use it is primarily experienced by touch. By quantifying the real touch experiences of consumers during and after skin care use, we can gain a deeper understanding of our products and consumers. From this we deduce valuable insights to share with our cosmetics developers. However, quantifying touch has proven difficult in the past because of how tactile devices interfere with the natural experience.
Therefore, we developed "HapLog®": a finger-wearable haptic sensor called which can measure the force of contact of the finger skin during cosmetic use without covering the fingerprint area. *2 This groundbreaking device was the first of its kind in the world. It measures the physical properties of cosmetics and skin by quantifying the tactile experiences during and after cosmetic use. We can successfully quantify differences in cosmetic application behavior between professional technicians and the general public and as a result, help our consumers improve their cosmetic application techniques2.
Vibration is another important tactile perception when we apply skin care and check our skin condition, for example when stroking the skin. To investigate, we developed another unique haptic sensor which quantifies vibration with unprecedentedly high accuracy. We use this sensor to quantify the touch experiences of cosmetics users and provide a deeper understanding of consumer experiences of different skin conditions*3.
These and other devices are routinely used to quantify the tactile properties of cosmetics and the touch experiences of our consumers, aiding in our pursuit of ever improving products and services. offer a pleasant feel to our customers.

  1. *2: M. Kakizawa, IFSCC Magazine (2013)
  2. *3: N. Saito, IEEE World Haptics Conference (2019)

Finger-wearable haptic sensor HapLog®

Finger-wearable haptic sensor "HapLog®"

Neuroscience & psychology

■Brain science research for elucidating changes in emotional reaction toward cosmetics

Emotional reactions towards cosmetics include excitement, which people feel when they start using a new item, and security, which people feel when they use familiar items. These reactions will change over the course of people’s continued use. However, the impact of users’ favorite cosmetics on brain activity hadn’t been researched. Therefore, Shiseido conducted two fMRI experiments in order to deeply understand human feelings towards cosmetics and evaluate brain activity when experiencing favorite products. The two fMRI experiments on the initial and long-term use of cosmetic products revealed brain activity patterns similar to those observed at different stages of interpersonal relationships.

fMRI image

fMRI image
Blue part: Brain activity in response to cosmetics the subject has just started to use

■Visual illusion research

Visual or optical illusions refer to a phenomenon where certain properties of an object are perceived as being different from what they really are. It can be said that make-up creates a type of visual illusion because it seems to make the eyes bigger or the face smaller when makeup is applied compared to bare skin. We have been conducting joint research with Professor Morikawa in Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. He is a leading expert in this research area. We quantified the perceived effects of makeup which is described merely in a subjective way by utilizing the “staircase method,” a well-known method in visual illusion research.
We quantified the illusory effects of eye makeup using the aforementioned psychophysical method. We used facial images of models wearing eye makeup as the standard stimuli during testing. Then as comparison stimuli, we used a series of facial images of models with bare skin where the sizes of the eyes were enlarged and reduced digitally.

We presented the standard and comparison stimuli of the same models on the left and right sides of the display and asked our participants to select the one whose eyes looked bigger. Depending on whether the participant chose the standard or comparison stimuli, we either enlarged or reduced the size of the eyes in the comparison stimulus image, and then asked the participant to reselect the image with bigger eyes. Repeating this process a number of times allowed us to measure the point of subjective equality for eye size in faces with makeup applied. In other words, it is possible to quantitatively measure the perceived size difference for eyes with makeup versus eyes without makeup.
One of our results showed that the eyes with makeup applied at the eye line and with eyelash extensions were perceived to be bigger, with 6.4% increases both vertically and horizontally, that is, an area increase of 113%, compared to the natural eye size. The results from our ongoing studies have also revealed that the use of eye shadow indeed leads to the perception that the eyes are bigger, compared to when no makeup is applied.
Gaining an in-depth scientific understanding of the perceptual effects of makeup will not only lead to vastly improved products, but will allow us to effectively convey the value and benefits of Shiseido’s makeup to our customers all over the world.

Bare skin Eye size 100% Eye makeup with eyeliner and false eyelashes Bare skin Eye size 106% Horizontally and Vertically

Fragrance and odor

■Discovery that stress caused by tension causes a characteristic skin odor

In 1999, Shiseido discovered a chemical called nonenal, a substance that generates a specific odor as a person ages. Shiseido also coined the term "aging odor," which is commonly used today. In our recent research, focusing on gases released from the surface of the skin, we discovered a phenomenon in which psychological stress caused by tension produced a characteristic odor, released in the form of skin gas. Two compounds* have been identified as the primary components of this gas. These results were obtained from subsequent further investigations into nonenal, reported in April 2017. The present findings suggest that skin gas is a physiologically important indicator that can also be used to identify psychological changes. We also developed a unique 'ST-unscented' technology to harmonize, not just mask, this odor. This new technology works to envelope the smell and make it less noticeable, rather than simply trying to mask it with a strong fragrance.

  • *We found that the main components are dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS) and allyl mercaptan (AM), and named these two components "ST thiodimethane.”

ST thiodimethane  is the proprietary name for the compound producing the stress smell

"ST thiodimethane" is the proprietary name for the compound producing the stress smell