Despite their blemished reputation, demand for skin whiteners remains solid among women


Cosmetics makers have recently unveiled new skin-whitening products for this spring and summer, anticipating steady demand in spite of the revelation last year that Kanebo Cosmetics Inc. products had caused skin problems among many women.

“We believe Japanese women’s wish for white skin remains unchanged,” said an official at a cosmetics maker who stressed the need for the industry to eliminate consumer concerns and nurture latent demand for skin-whitening products.

Although more than 10,000 women were found to have suffered white blotches on their skin after using Kanebo whitening products, overall skin whitener sales in 2013 fell only 0.7 percent from 2012, according to market research firm Fuji Keizai Co.

Encouraged by the steady demand, Pola Inc. opted to release four new products, including a face lotion, under its mainstay skin-whitening brand, while Kose Corp. plans to launch an improved version of its skin-whitening beauty essence that first debuted in 2004.

Meanwhile, Shiseido Co., which put out high-end skin-whitening products last year, will release only one low-priced beauty essence product in the coming spring and summer.

Some makers are finding it necessary to postpone the launches of their new products because the government’s safety screenings have become stricter and are taking longer to complete.

After the Kanebo scandal broke last July, cosmetics makers and retailers received a flood of inquiries from consumers about the safety of skin whiteners they were using.

In response, Kose offered special training for its sales staff and in December brought together managers of cosmetics stores that handle Kose products to brief them on the company’s product quality management system and customer services.