Hydrolyzed Prune

Developing melanin doesn't have to mean dark spots! A hit product born out of thinking outside the box

"If skin lightening = no skin discoloration, wouldn't it be OK to allow melanin to develop, as long as it remains invisible?" This one novel idea was all it took to catapult this project. Our mission became to find an ingredient that could prevent skin discoloration by inhibiting melanin intake by the epidermal cells. Out of hundreds of animals and plants, we discovered that the most effective ingredient came from Californian sun-kissed prunes. This is how Clairju, the key product in preventing epidermal cells from absorbing melanin, also known as the "melanin diet", was born.

The hairsplitting antithesis of the theory on skin lightening

First, let us explain our main two styles of product development. The first is to start with an existing ingredient, and then conduct research to figure out how to use it, and what kind of effects it has. The other method is to undertake a topic that requires research, such as a cure or a treatment, and then try to discover an ingredient that meets the purpose.
The Clairju project was an example of the latter style, in which we challenged the field of "skin lightening" with a new perspective. Skin lightening is a topic that developers from around the world continues to tackle, and there are countless number of research projects devoted to it, ranging from melanin synthesis inhibition and antioxidation to the promotion of skin regeneration. With so many different research projects, it was becoming difficult for consumers to understand what was going on, and even researchers were beginning to lose sight of the goal. That was when Dr. Tanaka asked a simple question: what exactly is skin lightening? The answer that opened a whole new door was daring the important thing is that dark spots do not appear on the skin; rather than preventing melanocytes from producing melanin due to UV exposure, the focus should be on preventing melanin from being integrated into the epidermal cells. That way, the skin will not appear dark. This is how the "melanin diet", a method of inhibiting melanin transfer in order to prevent epidermal cells from absorbing melanin, became our new research topic.

Building the theory to support the new idea

This new idea was, however, so unique that it risked being spurned as untrue. In light of this, Dr. Tanaka began meticulous research in order to back up his daring idea. "I was most worried about my idea not being accepted, and how I was going to convince the world," says Dr. Tanaka. He gathered research papers from around the world on the mechanism of melanin transfer from melanocytes to epidermal cells, and investigated what had already been worked out and what remained unknown. From there, he came up with a test method designed to identify a substance that would inhibit this mechanism.

Prunes emerging as the winning ingredient out of hundreds of other tested substances

After testing hundreds of materials available at our company over a course of several months, the ingredient made from Hydrolyzed Prune (Prunus domestica) was finally discovered. When this ingredient is added, it has the effect of suppressing melanin intake by the epidermal cells. This resulted in a skin lightening effect, and we also discovered that it had a moisturizing effect as well. This ingredient was named Clairju, which is derived from French to mean "fruit juice that purifies the skin".

The pioneer spirit that nurtures new ideas

The new skin lightening theory was born when we decided to focus on preventing melanin from surfacing, rather than trying to prevent melanin production as if melanin itself were the enemy. This product was launched in 2005, and at the time the article was edited in 2010, it was being picked up by beauty magazines and other media, which was starting to cause a stir.
As you can see from this anecdote, a pioneer spirit embraces unique ideas and gives them the best shot. Of course, with each success story, there are numerous concepts that end in failure. However, the vice-manager of the Development Department, Mr. Tsuboi, who has led the Development Department for many years, attests that the secret to a success is to enjoy new ideas and be motivated to carry out the research.