J-Beauty report from Europe Vol.1: “Our products are created to be customizable to adapt to every unique skin.” Japanese skincare brand “IRÉN Skin” from France

“J-Beauty” has been paid attention in the Western beauty industry. Japanese beauty derived from concepts and customs has begun to permeate part of people’s daily lives worldwide, symbolizing Japanese cultivated aesthetics and beauty methods. The new series “J-Beauty report from Europe” introduces the J-Beauty brands, which are gaining popularity in Europe, and digs into the ancient Japanese beauty methods. The series is supervised by Keiko Suyama, the representative of “Dessigne,” who has lived in Paris for over 20 years and consults on expanding Japanese beauty brands into the European market. We explore the Japanese aesthetic from each capture with her, the driving force behind the J-Beauty trend in Europe.

The first is the J-Beauty skincare brand “IRÉN Skin” made by a French team. “The founder Kristine Chen has a deep knowledge of ingredients and formulas,” Keiko said, and she also sells it at her Japanese beauty and lifestyle-themed pop-up store “Bijo;.”

Established in 2017, “IRÉN Skin” is currently developing seven types of serum and cleansing. Following the Japanese beauty method of layering, they propose personalized skincare by mixing multiple serums according to your skin concerns. After she has been involved in the beauty industry for a long time in Europe and Asia and got known well about the beauty methods of each country, why does Kristine focus on J-Beauty? We asked about the background of the establishment of “IRÉN Skin” and the trend of J-Beauty.

“the timeless approach of J-Beauty is coherent with our ethos and values.”

――The word “J-Beauty” has become familiar in Europe and the United States these days, but I don’t think it simply fits into the mere “Japanese way of beauty method.”  How do you define “J-Beauty”?

Kristin Chen : J-Beauty is often inspired by age-old beauty rituals, at the same time, it is reinvented with innovation and technology. The universe of J-Beauty is the unlikely but perfect combination of tradition, nature, innovation and science. True to the art of simple living, J-Beauty focuses on a minimalistic skincare routine with an effortless approach. J-Beauty is all about prevention; it requires dedication and discipline with a simple but effective skincare regime.

――Why do you think J-beauty is so trendy now?

Kristin : J-Beauty adopts a “less is more” philosophy and is usually based on natural ingredients with high respect for science. As environmental awareness has heightened in recent years, customers, in general, are driving towards sustainability. There is also a greater demand now for wellness and healthy living. The minimalist approach of J-Beauty, its authenticity and the use of natural superfood ingredients fit the current trend and demand.

――You have lived in both Europe and Asia and have worked in the beauty industry for over 10years. Although each country has its own beauty ritual, why did you choose J-Beauty and Made in Japan for “IRÉN Skin”?

Kristin : Japan is a beautiful country with distinctive cultures and unique traditions. Like many other aspects of Japanese culture, beauty ideals and skincare rituals directly links to traditional values and concepts. Taking inspiration from Japanese history and tradition and integrating it with science and innovation corresponds to my dream of creating a brand that would transcend both Eastern and Western cultures. Most of all, the timeless approach of J-Beauty is coherent with our ethos and values. Japan is reputed for having high quality and standards, so it is only natural to make all our products in Japan for us.

――Besides beauty rituals, what element of Japanese culture inspires you?

Kristin : I have always been inspired by Japanese culture, aesthetics, and design. And particularly the philosophy of “Wabi-Sabi,” which translates to a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics about appreciating the impermanent, imperfect and incomplete nature of everything. It helps me stay my authentic self and embrace the imperfections of real life.

“IRÉN Skin” is the first Japanese skincare brand to ban over 2000 toxic ingredients.

――What is the most innovative and unique feature that differentiates from others?

Kristin : Our patented technology, the Actif-X Encapsulation is a unique technology that allows better penetration and efficacy. Our Superfruit Booster Customized Serums is a range of 7 serums that can be mixed and matched according to specific skin concerns. With 35 combinations in total and unique formulations that have been enhanced with our Actif-X Encapsulation, it guarantees a targeted treatment with visible results.

――In addition to a highly transparent production, 100% vegan and cruelty-free, you have banned over 2000 toxic ingredients as “Scientifically Clean,” basing your formulations on factual evidence instead of hearsay. What are the challenges of product development under the constraints you impose on yourself?

Kristin : We are the first Japanese skincare brand to blacklist over 2000 ingredients that are toxic, comedogenic, or allergenic. Due to the constraints of not being able to use some common ingredients in skincare, we sometimes face the challenge of obtaining an optimal texture or stability. Thanks to our R&D team, we can break new ground and go through long hours of testing and research to obtain the best texture and results.

――At the end, please share with us your future vision.

Kristin : We believe the culture of J-Beauty can be for everyone regardless of gender, skin type or color. Hence, we want to champion inclusion; our products are created to be customizable to adapt to every unique skin. We will also be looking into more customizable solutions and evolving our skincare products to embrace a more inclusive vision of beauty.

We will also continue to drive gender equality. We currently run programs and scholarships to sponsor women in science, and we will step up our efforts to introduce this to more parts of the world. Lastly, we are planning more sustainability initiatives to respect planetary boundaries.   

Kristine Chen

Kristin Chen

She started working in the cosmetics industry more than 10 years ago. Through the experience of living in both Europe and Asia, she is familiar with the beauty rituals of the East and West. Significantly, she has been strongly influenced by Japanese beauty and culture. “IRÉN Skin” was born in 2017 to reimagine Japanese skincare by her, a combination of nature, tradition and science, made to adapt to the modern lifestyle.

Keiko Suyama

Keiko Suyama

Born in Tokyo and has lived in Paris for 20 years. She holds an MBA in Brand Management from INSTITUT FRANCAIS DE LA MODE. In 2010, she established “Dessigne,” a consulting company specializing in brand strategy, sales and communication, from Japan to the European market. In 2016, a concept project “Bijo;” has started that curates J-Beauty and lifestyle brands. She has clients in about 150 stores in 20 countries, from major department stores such as Harrods, Le Bon Marché, Ritz Paris, Sephora, etc.

Direction Keiko Suyama
Translation Elie Inoue


Elie Inoue

Paris-based journalist, born in Osaka, Japan, in 1989. Having a dream of living abroad since she took a trip to Europe with her mother when she was 12 years old. After graduating from Mukogawa Women’s University, she started living in New York City and gained experience as a fashion journalist and coordinator.The more involved in fashion, the more she was strongly drawn to European fashion culture and history, then she moved into Paris in 2016. Currently, she has been covering fashion weeks in various cities, interviews with fashion designers, as well as working on lifestyle, culture, and politics.