Skin data bank: Kao and istyle to collaborate on skin RNA database by 2023

By Amanda Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kao is partnering with istyle to build a skin RNA database by 2023. [Getty Images]
Kao is partnering with istyle to build a skin RNA database by 2023. [Getty Images]

Related tags: RNA, Personalisation, Japan

Japanese personal care major Kao is partnering with beauty media and retail firm istyle to build a skin RNA database by 2023 with the sebum RNA testing technology it developed.

This joint project would enable Kao to tap into istyle-owned cosmetic portal @cosme’s userbase of 15 million users as well as 17 million reviews on over 360,000 products.

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) collection is expected to begin this spring and both companies are aiming to collate a database of up to 10,000 samples from @cosme members for a start.

In addition to the RNA samples, the company will also evaluate the reviews the participants have posted on @cosme to better understand which products work well with their skin.

This would give Kao the opportunity to delve further into the study of skin RNA, such as identifying characteristics that would allow it better to understand and classify RNA skin types.

Both companies plan to utilise the database for the development of services and products, which will enable consumers to discover new products more efficiently.

istyle highlighted that today’s beauty consumer is faced with far too many product choices and there is a need to be able to match consumers more precisely with the right products.

“@cosme is developing a service that seamlessly connects online and offline as a platform for creating encounters between consumers and beauty products. This time, as a partner who wants to create a mechanism to more logically match customers' skin and cosmetics. By working with Kao, we will provide better ways of meeting consumers and beauty products,”​ said Tetsuro Yoshimatsu, president and CEO of istyle.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have limited chances for product testing or beauty consultations, and product reviews are insufficient.

Building this index would better enable the companies to “logically” ​match consumers to the right products. Furthermore, the firms hope this could help reduce product wastage in the long run.

Skin RNA testing

Unlike DNA, which determines the genetic, unchanging characteristics of your skin, RNA​ can be used to reveal day-to-day changes in skin conditions.

In 2019, Kao discovered that sebum cells contained not just lipids, but RNA as well. The firm was able to extract RNA by taking a sebum sample with oil blotting film.

Previously, analysing RNA expression in the skin would require a highly invasive biopsy of the skin.

The research claimed that the new method could analyse up to 10,000 molecules of human RNA.

The same year, the company announced the development of an RNA beauty consultation service.

The firm worked with Preferred Networks (PFN) to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, such as machine learning and deep learning, with the data obtained from the sebum RNA.

It piloted a beauty counselling service with RNA testing at the BEAUTY BASE by Kao, the company’s flagship store located in Ginza, Tokyo.

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