The Pioneer of Cosmetic Dermatology
Today, visiting a dermatologist when you’re concerned about your skin is a fairly common practice. As the importance of self-care has grown, so too has our trust in the expertise and guidance of such specialists. In fact, dermatologists are now responsible for turning more people on to new skincare products than friends or influencers.
However, back in 1970s Japan, dermatology as a function of beauty and self-care was unheard of. For Dr. Reijiro Ishii, specializing in dermatology at that time meant primarily caring for patients with severe medical skin conditions like burns. It took an eye-opening experience with a distraught patient for Dr. Ishii to realize the true potential of cosmetic dermatology for holistic wellness, and in 1973 he established the first cosmetic dermatology clinic in Japan. The clinic, with its revolutionary attached esthetic salon, sparked a newfound appreciation of medically-guided skincare throughout the country. Dr. Ishii then went on to become the chief consulting physician for major cosmetic brands, such as Kanebo and Max Factor, and was also behind the development of SK-II and its bestselling Facial Treatment Essence.
It’s no wonder then, that as Japan’s foremost cosmetic dermatologist—with a wealth of pioneering experience spanning more than 40 years—we still look to Dr. Ishii’s insights about skincare to guide us today. While his contributions to the industry are many, there are definitely a few classic principles that stand out to Shikō Beauty Collective. We’ve narrowed down the most special of Dr. Ishii’s insights to three timeless truths you need to know:
- Skin Health Impacts Overall Wellness
- Medicine Facilitates the Pursuit of Beauty
- The Best Beauty Serum Is Your Smile
Your Skin’s Health Impacts Your Overall Wellness.
While working as a dermatologist at Japan Red Cross Central Hospital and treating patients with serious medical conditions, Dr. Ishii encountered a patient looking for help with her severe acne. When he downplayed her frustrations as “not a matter of life and death”, the woman broke down. It was then that Dr. Ishii realized the treatment of skin conditions wasn’t about the purely functional or practical elements of skincare; the condition of a person’s skin could impact their happiness, mental health, and emotional wellbeing, in addition to their physical health.
Skin is our biggest organ and, oftentimes, the most outwardly visible representation of ourselves to others. Skin ailments like eczema and acne can also be very physically painful, which compounds feelings of stress, anxiety, or emotional discomfort about their visibility. These stressors can then continue to exacerbate skin issues, creating a vicious circle of suffering. Dr. Ishii’s experience underscored the fact that, when your skin looks and feels healthy, it contributes to your overall sense of wellness—and when it doesn’t, you can feel that pain everywhere, too. This is what inspired Dr. Ishii to focus on developing treatments, guided by medical knowledge, that improve skin health and holistic healing.