Shunsuke Iriyama, a researcher at Shiseido, has been doing “basic research” by looking at skin structure that has not been elucidated yet and looking for ingredients that are effective on the skin.
He also collaborates with overseas universities and is updated with the latest information as a partner. We have asked him to explain collagen in an easy-to-understand manner and talk about his past research.
Shiseido GIC (Global Innovation Center) Skin Functional Research Group
- Joined Shiseido and was assigned to the Life Science Research Center, Skin Biology Research Laboratory.
Engaged in basic research on aging of the skin
- Studied overseas at the University of Colorado Denver, USA. Research work on basic knowledge of the skin
- Transferred to Functional Cosmetic Ingredient Development Group.
- Transferred to Cutaneous Biological Research Group. Has been in the Skin Functional Research Group since 2017
Doctor of Agriculture
Collagen accounts for 30% of the proteins in our body and has a close relationship to human beings. Though the discovery of collagen itself was early, we still do not understand the full functions of the 29 types that are known. Hence, I believe there will be continuously more discoveries from now on.
On the other hand, I feel that the information that has been spread to the public has stopped at the fact that collagen is good for the skin and body and the correct information has not been entirely transmitted. In the future, I hope we can spread accurate information based on scientific knowledge that can only be transmitted by researchers.
Though proteins are made and broken repeatedly to maintain only good ones, they become more difficult to reproduce as we age. Also, collagen becomes more difficult to degrade after being effected by saccharification.
The fact that collagen itself is white originally but becomes yellow after undergoing modification like saccharification has been related to the color tone of the skin. Further, recent studies have revealed that when the density (amount) of collagen is low, skin color appears dull. One of the causes of change in skin tone is due to the color and amount of collagen itself.
There are many factors for collagen degradation and among them, the main ones are external stress like UV rays and dryness. Normally, new collagens are produced when old ones are broken down and destroyed. However, when metabolism worsens, old collagens accumulate. When newly produced collagen coexists with bad collagen, the skin becomes what seems like an accumulation of waste as a result. As wastes accumulate, collagen that is supposed to form a plate on the skin overlaps in layers.
Comparing to the facial skin, the skin on the abdominal area and inside of the upper arm, which are usually protected from UV rays and dryness by the clothing we wear, are more beautiful with better collagen condition. If you compare natural aging with age to aging due to external stress such as UV rays, the effects on the skin are very different. Natural aging alone does not actually cause that much damage.
Therefore, it is very important to protect the skin from external stress such as UV rays and dryness and to take care of the external stress with skincare, which I think is the function of skincare.
For example, if you get injured and the skin is scratched, it will bleed but it will eventually become a scab and begin to repair to return to the original state. However, there will be a scar if the process does not progress well.
Taking something that we are familiar with for instance, the gel type bandage we have now is different from the old style bandage. It repairs quicker by leaving the wound dry. It is because of our further understanding of the mechanism of skin repair that led to the development of a new technology. I think that such repair mechanism can also be applied to skincare and supplements.
Most of my colleagues work for pharmaceutical companies after graduating from university, but I chose to work for a cosmetics company. It takes over 10 years, or 20 years if longer, for research to become a product in pharmaceutical companies; but in the case of cosmetics companies, the technology you have researched on can be out in the world within 5 to 10 years and actually be beneficial to the customers.
I am currently conducting research on stem cells of the skin. Though there is an increase in the spread of information on the relationship between collagen and stem cell, I hope to not only spread the innovative spirit of the word stem cell, but also the correct information to the customers.