“By using fine fiber technology in combination with various Kao-developed products, it is now possible to go beyond traditional concepts in cosmetic fields such as skincare and makeup,” said Kao.
The membrane is created by spraying the skin directly with a polymer solution developed for cosmetics. The solution is loaded into a small, specialised applicator is applied through a nozzle
The superfine fibres, only “submicrons in diameter”, will then form a thin membrane on the skin’s surface. The ultra-thin film that forms is light, soft and able to move with flexibility in tandem with the skin. This makes the film look natural while skin appears smooth and even.
“With this technology, anyone can easily form a film that is moulded to the three-dimensional shapes and areas of various parts of the body,” said the company. “Kao is looking forward to using its fine fibre technology in combination with its various cosmetics products to go beyond traditional concepts in skincare and makeup.”
According to Kao, the “greatest feature” of the technology is its ability to enhance the endurance and even coverage of cosmetic formulations, which Kao said is an enormous challenge for formulators.
“Due to capillary action, cosmetic products are held firmly between both the layers of fibres and individual fibres, and liquid products are quickly and evenly distributed throughout the entire membrane,” explained Kao.
At the same time, the company added that the membrane allows excess water vapour to escape from the spaces between the interwoven fibres. “As a result, the film is able to maintain adequate moisture permeability without completely blocking the skin.”
The newly developed technology is created using a superfine fibre-spinning technology called the electrospinning method, which is common in the non-woven fabric industry.
Like “silk spun by a silkworm”, the solution is stretched into string-like strands and layered onto the surface of the skin.
Together, the layers of the solution form a membrane, which is thinner toward its edges, allowing it to blend naturally with the skin and be nearly invisible. Additionally, its close contact with the skin’s surface will not allow the film to be rubbed off easily, but can be peeled off as a whole sheet.
As a developer and manufacturer of a variety of products from baby diapers to cleaning wipes, Kao was equipped with the necessary expertise to develop the fine fibre technology.
In 2017, the company began working on the development of next-generation non-woven fabrics, for which the company developed its own electrospinning device.
During the research process, it was noticed that the fibre membrane had traits similar to that of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin, which is when the idea of adapting the technology for cosmetic use struck.
A fine fibre future
According to Kao, the company is planning to present these results at academic conferences, such as those focusing on fibre engineering, dermatology, and cosmetics science.
“Kao is working to view daily life from the consumer's perspective and make technological innovations that contribute to the future of society,” said the company.
“Kao will advance research and continue pursuing fine fibre applications in cosmetic products such as skincare and makeup items, while also considering adaptations of the technology for use in the therapeutic field.”