Kirei – making life beautiful
The Japanese word kirei describes something that is clean, hygienic and beautiful all at once. As an organisation Kao embodies the spirit of kirei and stands for responsibility, care, innovation and integrity. These are the foundation for creating our products.
We believe in doing what is right, not what is easy. We put our innovation and imagination to the task of enriching lives by finding ways for people to live a Kirei Lifestyle and contribute to the sustainability of the world.
Every ingredient we use to create our products is chosen with care because we are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our consumers and our environment.
People have grown to expect more from companies like Kao – from the products we deliver to how we operate. They want to connect with us and understand what we stand for. As our guiding principle, Kirei goes beyond external beauty to include health, wellness and peace-of-mind. Kirei marks the next step in our evolution to connect with our stakeholders on an emotional level and nurture sustainable growth globally by stepping up our efforts to create positive impact to both society and the environment.
Our consumers and customers care and we understand that there are topics that concern them. Here is our perspective on some of those key areas.
In all stages of our business, from research and development to raw materials, production, shipping, and sales, we pursue a high level of safety and we never stop working to make improvements. At Kao we are committed to Yoki-Monozukuri which means we don’t accept the status quo and we believe in always trying to do things better. It’s this commitment that drives our passions for creating quality products that help to enrich people’s everyday lives.
We consider product safety, quality and performance to be key for our customers and consumers. We are focused on compliance and laws and all quality and safety regulations throughout the product development process, across all the countries and markets we operate in. In addition, we have established our own Kao Group safety standards which are in many aspects stricter than requested by authorities. We conduct nearly 25,000 raw material tests and nearly 90,000 tests of finished goods every year to ensure the high quality of our products.
Testing cosmetic products has been prohibited in the EU since 2004. Hence it is our policy not to conduct animal testing for the development of our Beauty Care products.
But Kao ́s efforts to find alternatives to animal testing and make it obsolete started more than thirty years ago, well before the official EU legislation in 2004. The Kao Group as a whole continues to work hard towards the global abolition of animal testing.
It’s our goal to find solutions that will be acceptable as official test methods, globally. We are working in partnership with industry associations, other companies and relevant third parties to find robust alternatives and have them adopted as international guidelines.
At Kao we’re dedicated to ensuring and enhancing the safety and protection of our consumers. All our professional salon products are developed in Europe where we welcome the stringent safety requirements of the European Union and the Unites States.
When the European Community commissioned a study to re-evaluate all the ingredients used in hair colouring products, Kao co-financed and supported the initiative from day one.
Kao guarantees the safety of its hair colourants based on intensive research, development and scientific testing. We carry out our own regular internal assessments and voluntarily commissioned consumer protection studies, carried out by independent institutes. We’re dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of safety. The ingredients used in hair dyes are continually monitored and checked by a range of international scientists. Their aim and ours is the same – to ensure the products are safe to use and this particularly applies to the use of hair colour during pregnancy.
Even though our products adhere to the highest quality and safety standards, some hair colourants may cause an allergic reaction. While this is rare, we also recognise allergies of all kinds are on the increase. We believe clear information is critical to help our consumers understand what is inside every hair colour pack. So in addition to a comprehensive list of ingredients we include information on potential allergies.
We believe that gorgeous fragrances make life more beautiful. They are an important part of many of our products, creating a sensory experience for our consumers. We all have our favourite scents and smells, many of them recalled from childhood. There is something magical about them.
We like to think we bring this magic to our products working with talented fragrance creators around the world; but as with everything we do, safety is our first priority. All our fragrances meet the standards of the International Fragrance association (IFRA) and this includes the IFRA Code of Practice and all its applicable regulations across multiple markets.
A beautiful fragrance is born out of a combination of high quality ingredients and dedicated research by scientist and perfume experts. Some ingredients and some fragrances can cause allergies. In line with European Union regulations our labels list the use of any of the twenty-six designated substances considered to be the most allergenic. It’s our aim to give our consumers as much information as possible so they are always well-informed, especially when it comes to the ingredients in our products. Scientific research never stands still and as further research continues to inform and effect regulatory bodies we are pro-active and seek to be in the forefront of new initiatives and regulations that protect our consumers.
Kao purchases sustainable palm oil, traceable to the mill. We are committed, by 2020, to zero deforestation at the source of palm oil and we are working to achieve this through cooperation with plantations, mills, refineries and third-party organisations.
We will not purchase palm oil that contributes to the development of any high conservation value (HCV) forests, high carbon stock (HCS) forests or peatlands, regardless of the depth. Our long-term goal is to purchase only sustainably sourced palm oil for use in our consumer products that is traceable to the plantation. Our factories for the Beauty Care Business in the EMEA region are RSPO SCCS certified in order to build a traceable supply chain.
We continue to work with all our suppliers to ensure they comply with our guidelines. If our suppliers are found in contravention of those guidelines, we will take appropriate action. You can follow our progress towards these critical objectives on our main global website and in our annual Sustainability Data Book.
The pollution of the world’s oceans is on the increase and of serious concern to us and to our consumers. One specific cause of pollution that has been in the media concerns microplastics.
Microplastics can be defined as small plastic particles. The source of these is often lager pieces of plastic that break down over time. These will never dissolve in water so the build-up is of concern as it has the potential to threaten wildlife in their ocean habitats.
Microplastics also include microbeads, tiny plastic particles that are used in some beauty products and toothpastes. As part of our commitment to sustainability we are always looking for ways to improve our products to protect the environment.
Since 2016, none of our products have contained plastic microbeads. Our Formulation Scientists purposefully design our formulas to avoid these materials while still providing the benefits and experience you expect. They have identified and utilise alternative scrubbing ingredients that do not fall under the definition of plastic microbeads.
Preservatives play an important role in protecting products against contamination.
Parabens are a common preservative preventing the growth of fungi, bacteria or yeast and so in turn preventing deterioration and extending the life of the product. Parabens are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid, or PHBA, which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. They have been used for more than half a century and been extensively studied and regulated.
At Kao we only use parabens in quantities approved as safe by regulatory authorities. Because there are many types of paraben, we clearly list the ingredients on all of our products so consumers who may know they are allergic to certain ingredients can check the contents.
Two of the preservatives we do use in some of our products are Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and Phenoxyethanol. Because there are concerns that MIT may cause allergic reactions in some people, we removed MIT from our leave-on cosmetics and reduced the level for our rinse-off cosmetics. Where it is used, MIT will be shown as an ingredient so that product can be avoided by anyone with an allergy to it. We use Phenoxyethanol at as low level as possible up to a maximum 1% concentration level – in line with European Union regulations. We are always aiming to reduce the level of preservatives to the minimum concentration that is needed to protect a particular product.
Many of our products, particularly our hair care products, are designed to be truly transformative. Carefully researched and developed to bring shine to dull hair and eliminate frizz and dryness, some of these products contain silicones which are often a key ingredient in helping to smooth hair or bring rich moisturising properties to skin care products.
At Kao we only use high performing silicones which are water or shampoo soluble so there is no danger of the build-up that gave silicones a negative reputation in the past. All the silicones we use have been rigorously tested and assessed for safe use and we continually monitor any new scientific findings.
The word vegan is most commonly used as a dietary definition. Since our products have no dietary value we prefer not to designate any of our personal care products as vegan and we do not formulate our products with the intention that they are. However, we understand that some consumers are concerned about using products that contain animal derived ingredients. In the personal care industry, there are a few raw materials sourced from animals or derived directly from animals. Whenever we use these ingredients we do so because they deliver a unique benefit to the product. In all cases, we conduct a review of our suppliers to determine the source of the material’s origin and how it has been processed before utilising in our products. Our usage of these materials complies with the appropriate regional and national regulations.
Whilst we follow the highest-level of requirements relating to our raw materials, small traces of gluten may be present in a few of those raw materials derived from wheat, rye, barley and oats.
We understand that some consumers may have a gluten intolerance and not wish to use products with even a trace of gluten.
Plastic packaging plays an important role in the effectiveness of our products – it’s versatile, adaptable and flexible. However, overuse of plastic has always been a concern for us and our consumers because of the potential negative impact on nature.
We believe that the plastic we do use should be made within limits our own planet can safely handle. Plastic should never enter nature and every piece should either be reused or recycled. Plastic that has already entered the environment should be recovered and renewed. Our ambition is to transform the world of plastic packaging through materials, technology and design. We strive to minimise the amount of plastic we use and want to empower our consumers to use less packaging and recycle more.
We are also committed to using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in our packaging. By 2020, Kao will purchase only recycled paper or sustainably sourced paper and pulp for use in its consumer products, packaging and office paper.
Our action on packaging is driven by our 4R programme based on continuous improvement and bold innovation.
You can find out more about our policy on plastic packaging at the link below.