from Japan

Kanna Shiroyama On Aging in All of The Right Ways

Kanna Shiroyama Cosmetic chemist



Kanna Shiroyama is a cosmetic chemist at leading cosmetic lab company.  She specializes in the coloring division, with a focus on developing formulas for lipsticks and blush.


Who Says Professional Can’t Be Pretty?

Yasuo Yoshikawa(YY)  What encouraged you to become a cosmetic chemist? Were you always interested in make-up? 

Kanna Shiroyama(KS)  No, not particularly, but the ways that female idols promoted makeup always interested me. I would read about their favorite brands in blogs and magazines and wonder why they valued certain products more than others. I realized that the positive feelings I got from researching these women were similar to those that they experienced from using said products. I think that’s what sparked my interest in creating makeup, because shortly thereafter, I began researching makeup development companies.

YY  It’s impressive that you were able to connect those dots to find a path that you love. What sort of makeup did you wear as a teenager? 

KS  I was never the girl who couldn’t live without makeup. It was actually during my job search that I began to discover its magic—applying things like mascara and eyeliner made me feel more energetic, uplifted, and empowered. It was sort of a new discovery for me.

YY  Is your work incredibly tedious? Or do you find it to be quite fun? 

KS  I’ve had this job for four years now, but I still love the challenge of creating an entirely new product. Delivering the desired results is highly rewarding, especially when clients say, “that’s it, I love it!”

YY  Are there any special precautions you have to take? 

KS  Not especially, but I do try to keep an open line of communication with my clients. If I feel that their request is not feasible, I try to let them know immediately so they’re not waiting around for too long.  

At the beginning of my career, I really struggled with emailing and discussing matters with clients that I didn’t know quite well. Even the thought of talking with them would make me quite nervous since I couldn’t predict their personalities.

YY  How did you overcome your fear? 

KS  I eventually learned that I have to stay positive and go easy on myself. 

YY  Right, so you don’t come off as too serious or anxious. 

KS  I mainly try to approach people with a sense of humor because I find it puts them more at ease. My regular clients and I now have a good rapport, which is quite comforting. But new clients present new challenges, and so I have to stay humble. I try not to worry beforehand about our interactions and remind myself that if I upset someone for whatever reason, I’ll simply deal with it in the moment.

YY  Is it stressful to feel anxious at work? 

KS  I combat stress by sleeping a lot, and spend my weekends relaxing as much as possible. 

YY  Sleep is absolutely vital. I’m jealous that you can do it so easily, as I’m a very poor sleeper myself. 

Don’t Be Afraid of Moisture

KS  I have acne prone skin, so it’s very important that I use a thorough cleanser. On mornings when it feels especially hard to wake up, I’ll use Sabon’s Face Polisher. The energizing properties of the mint and menthol really help me kickstart my day.

I also recently realized the importance of good moisturizers. For years, I wrongfully believed that constantly washing my face would eliminate my acne, without realizing the ways how it actually stripped my skin of its natural oils. Lately, my favorite cleanser has been the gentle yet hydrating Softymo Lachesca Premium Hot Gel Cleansing. I also use SEKKISEI’s Essential Souffle lotion. It’s great for daily use and has a wonderfully soft texture.

Finally, when my skin is experiencing heavy breakouts, I’ll use a mask containing Andalusian green clay. You can truly feel it working while it’s on your skin, plus the scent of the mud is quite soothing.  

Thirty, Thoughtful, and Fabulous

YY  Has working in the cosmetic’s industry changed your views on makeup or made you want to alter your complexion? 

KS  Yes, actually. I wish I looked more like these two idols, Ai Takahashi and Satomi Ishihara.

YY  They’re a bit older than you. 

KS  A tiny bit. For many women, turning thirty is normally a big ordeal. But when I see how radiant they look at that age, I feel encouraged. Society claims that thirty is “old” for women, but I disagree. I bought Ai and Satomi’s books on aging about a year ago, and they definitely changed some of my opinions. I find my perspectives change as I age.

YY  Do you feel old right now at age 27?

KS  No way!  

YY  So, you’re not afraid of turning thirty?

KS  I’m actually looking forward to it a little bit. Some of my girlfriends will say things like “turning thirty is devastating,” but I honestly think it’s not that bad.

YY  Yes, Ai and Satomi are the perfect example! You see them as your inspiration? 

KS  In their interviews they always come off as so hard-working and disciplined. They’re very independent in their views and opinions. I would like to have a stronger sense of identity, no matter what others may say about me. Spreading happiness and positivity is also important, and if doing so makes me seem naive, then so be it. I have to stay true to myself. 

YY  Beyond your 30’s, where do you see yourself?

KS  I try to stay in the present, so it’s hard for me to envision myself in that time period just yet. But ideally, I would love to see my favorite idols using the products I’ve created and promoting them in magazines. That’s my dream.

Interview :  Yasuo Yoshikawa

Text : Mikako Koyama