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Product Story

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Behind-the-scenes development story that proves our commitment to quality

Our 4 years of pursuing gentleness to the skin.

Episode #0/

Preface What is skincare that is really gentle to mom and her baby?

In order to research products and services for moms and babies, we make sure to conduct surveys of our customers. One of the most common comments we receive from moms is that they are looking for skincare products that are safe and gentle to the skin.

We found that even maternity creams and baby skincare products in the market labeled as "additive-free" or "hypoallergenic" have different standards, with some products that make you wonder if they are really gentle on your skin.

What is gentleness for moms and babies?

We conducted an extensive survey of over 50,000 expectant and nursing mothers in search of this answer.The results of this survey showed that pregnant women and moms consider the following criteria for "gentleness to skin".

Skincare product standards that pregnant women look for, revealed from a survey of more than 50,000 participants.Skincare product standards that pregnant women look for, revealed from a survey of more than 50,000 participants.

Based on this feedback, we set out to develop skincare products for moms and babies with the goals of eliminating potentially irritating ingredients and avoiding the use of ingredients not essential for the skin wherever possible.

Episode #1/

Encounter with shell ginger, an ancient Japanese herb

All Milpoche Organics products are formulated with shell ginger, a subtropical plant grown in Okinawa, Japan.
After touring various trade shows and OEM manufacturers to choose the main raw material for our products, we finally came across shell ginger.

Shell ginger is a plant that grows extensively from Kagoshima southward and in Okinawa, and has been valued as food wrapping material since ancient times due to its extremely medicinal and strong antibacterial properties.

It is also said to possess excellent moisturizing, collagen degradation-inhibiting and anti-inflammatory effects. We also believed its distinct refreshing scent would be ideal for skincare for pregnant women, moms and babies.
Among the many plant-derived raw materials available, we chose shell ginger for its efficacy and also because there are organic (JIS certified) farms in Japan.

After visiting the farm multiple times while considering how to use shell ginger, we learned about distilled water (herbal water), a raw material that is less likely to cause irritation to the skin than essential oil or extracts.

This distilled water is so moisturizing that some people use it alone as skin toner. This was exactly the plant-derived raw material we were looking for.
Using this "shell ginger distilled water" as the main ingredient, we started trial production to create product samples.

Episode #2/

Failure in tester survey

Since we did not have our own factory, we asked OEM companies in Miyakojima, Okinawa and Kagoshima that were very familiar with shell ginger to start developing skin care products using shell ginger distilled water.

We shared our guiding principles of our "dedication to plant-derived ingredients," "formulating products with minimal irritation," and "using as little as possible of unnecessary ingredients" with our OEM partners, and planned and prototyped a total of seven different products, including a maternity cream, all-in-one gel, and body soap.

The biggest challenge was developing the emulsifier to emulsify water and oil.

Surfactants used in the emulsification of many cosmetics are often made from petroleum-derived materials, and some of them are said to be irritating to the skin.

At the time, we chose to use a plant-derived surfactant that was said to be less irritating than other surfactants, and with the cooperation of our OEM partner, managed to complete seven product prototypes.
After repeated in-house testing and fine-tuning, we were confident that we could present this product to our customers with pride. A tester survey of a total of 200 pregnant women and nursing moms was conducted.

But the result brought us the grim reality.
For all seven products, about 1-5% of the participants said they felt irritation on their skin, and about 15% commented that the scent of shell ginger, which we initially thought smelled pleasant and refreshing, was slightly too strong for pregnant women and babies to use.

Those products would never be accepted by our customers.

With this in mind, we made the decision to scrap all previous developments and start over from scratch.
At this point, it had been about two years since the conceptual stage of skincare for moms and babies.

Episode #3/

Starting over from zero

After receiving stark feedback from our customers from the tester survey, we investigated each of the formulated ingredients and conducted a variety of tests to verify the potential for irritation.

A cosmetics researcher from another company who saw our formula pointed out the possibility that one of the causes might be the emulsifier surfactant.

Because surfactants readily blend with both water and oil, some are said to dissolve the important barrier function of the skin, which can cause skin problems.

Many skincare products on the market that claim to be "naturally derived" or "plant-derived" use plant-derived surfactants.

We also chose to use plant-derived surfactant, but according to the researcher, the role of both petroleum- and plant-derived products is almost the same.

And of course, each person who experiences irritation may react differently to different substances, and it is nearly impossible to pinpoint a single cause.

However, we felt it was essential to identify the most likely alternative in our pursuit to attain gentleness for moms and babies.

There were many other challenges, but we set out and restarted our journey to find raw materials from scratch with the goal of creating skincare products without using surfactants.

Episode #4/

Encounter with three-phase emulsification

Setting the new goal of creating a skincare product without the use of surfactants, we visited various trade shows related to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and researched raw materials.

An ingredient that looks good may be petroleum-based or unbelievably expensive.

It was very challenging to find our ideal ingredient.
There were times when we worried that maybe we were chasing after something that didn't exist in the world.

When we were about to give up, we came across a sign that said "Surfactant-free technology" at a trade show.

At the booth of the OEM manufacturer, they introduced their products using a patented technology* called "three-phase emulsification," which mixes water and oil without using surfactants.

It wasn't the raw material itself, but we thought this may be a lead. We contacted Kanagawa University directly, which has a patent on three-phase emulsification, and managed to get a chance to hear their story.

On the day of our visit, the professors who had actually developed three-phase emulsification gave us an overview of the technology, and as we had hoped, we learned that it is possible to emulsify water and oil using plant-derived materials that have been commonly used in cosmetics by using "three-phase emulsification technology".
(※Learn more about three-phase emulsification

"Maybe this will make our dreams come true!"

It was with a sense of excitement that we listened to the story, but it turned out that it would be difficult to provide the technology to anyone other than the OEM manufacturers they were currently working with, due to the special nature of the technology.
In an instant, we went from heaven to hell.
We were back to point zero.
※Kanagawa University Patent No. 3855203 "Emulsion dispersant, emulsion dispersion method using the dispersant and emulsion"

Episode #5/

Establishment of our own factory

Having lost hope of incorporating the three-phase emulsification technology, we continued to search for new ingredients while working on "shell ginger distilled water fragrance", which was another challenge.

Having been using distilled water produced at a farm on the main island of Okinawa, we asked them to adjust the scent. However, they replied that it was difficult to produce an exclusive product.

Is there any way to make distilled water less fragrant?
After much deliberation, we came up with the answer of "making it ourselves".
We had been repeatedly asking the OEM manufacturer to do something that we wanted or saying that we didn't want something. It was getting to the point where we couldn't ask any more for products that we hadn't even sold yet.

Establishment of our own factory

It was a choice that everyone thought was reckless, but we had no other choice but to create what our customers, pregnant women and moms, and those of us who were responsible for our customers' wishes, were looking for.

Thankfully, the OEM manufacturer that we have been working with helped us and we were able to find a potential factory site on Miyako Island in Okinawa, where there is an abundance of plant materials, including shell ginger.

There were many more problems than building a factory on the mainland, including logistics and climate, but we felt this was the last resort to achieve our original goal of using plant materials to produce products gentle to the skin.

After about half a year of construction, our own factory on Miyako Island was successfully completed in February 2017. We obtained a license to manufacture cosmetics in May of that year.

This was the beginning of Milpoche Organics as a cosmetics manufacturer.

Episode #6/

In search of the ideal body care cream

Among the many plant-derived raw materials available, we chose shell ginger for its efficacy and also because there are organic (JIS certified) farms in Japan.

In developing our products, however, we could not give up on the three-phase emulsification technology. We visited Kanagawa University again as a "cosmetics manufacturer" and shared our thoughts on making cosmetics for moms and babies, and how we established our own factory for that purpose.

The university had been seeking to utilize the three-phase emulsification technology for a better future. And while they were surprised that we had actually built our own factory, they sympathized with our idea and agreed to provide us with technical cooperation for the development of products using three-phase emulsification.

Initially, our goal was to release seven different products simultaneously, but with a limited number of staff, it took more time than we had imagined to develop new products using new technology.
In order to create satisfying products, we first started development by focusing on maternity cream for expectant mothers.

More than 100 prototypes of subtle-scented shell ginger distilled water and more than 200 maternity cream prototypes.

After repeated making and testing, we finally came up with a cream that we were satisfied with.
Once again we conducted a survey of a total of 200 pregnant women and nursing moms, and repeated final adjustments to minimize skin irritation and fine-tune fragrance until the very last minute.

About 4 years since conceptualization

Completed Milpoche Organics BODY CARE CREAM in December 2017.

In the post-release survey, 0% of the respondents said they felt irritation, and less than 2% provided negative feedback on the scent. We have cleared the initial challenges and completed the creation of our ideal body cream that satisfies our customers.

※December 2017 - June 2018 post-release survey

Episode #7/

For the children of the future

This project started with a single thought of "Creating products that are truly gentle for moms and babies." Thanks to the involvement of many people around us who shared that idea, we have finally reached the point where we can deliver our products to customers.

Milpoche Organics products are the result of the dedication of many people, including expert moms who participated in our surveys, as well as those who helped set up our factory and provided us with technology.

After the release of our products, we received this message from one of our customers.

"I want to use good products for the future of my children who have decades to enjoy ahead"

Her comment inspired us to further commit to manufacturing products with integrity so that we will never betray our customers who choose our products.

We promise to continue creating skincare products that are friendly to both people and the environment, so that moms, babies, pregnant women and everyone around them can live healthy and happy lives.