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Saravio Cosmetics is using algae derived from Japan’s hot springs to offer a safe and simple option for hair, skin and health care

Humans, and even animals, around the world have long enjoyed natural hot springs for their therapeutic benefits. But some cannot visit hot springs on a regular basis, particularly in countries where they may be few and far between. Saravio Cosmetics Ltd. is taking the hot spring to the customer instead, with a natural treatment for various ailments of the body.

Throughout human history natural hot springs have long been valued for their therapeutic benefits. Shigeru Hamada, the Chairman and CEO of Saravio Cosmetics, tells about a culture of healing the body through natural hot springs millennia ago in places such as Italy and Germany. Saravio Cosmetics itself is located in a town with the largest number of hot springs in the world: Oita Prefecture’s Beppu, which boasts no fewer than 2,847 hot spring sources and 10 of the world’s 11 different hot spring mineral varieties.

Dr. Kaseda's many years of research led to the discovery of the health benefits of spa-derived algae

Saravio HQ in Beppu, Oita

Beppu and other such hot spring towns in Japan have been popular since olden days, yet Hamada explains that “it was hard for people to understand why hot springs were beneficial.” In 2001, he had the idea of seeking a scientific explanation to their merits, but it wasn’t until about nine years later that his researchers at Saravio Central Institute, led by Director Kuniyoshi Kaseda, PhD, actually engaged in scientific study.

At first, Kaseda and his researchers studied mineral waters and examined types of mud … but found nothing. “We just failed over and over again, and then gave up,” recounts Hamada. But Kaseda wondered if microorganisms in the warm water could be a factor. Months of research ensued until one researcher on his team finally found what they were looking for: a type of algae that seemed to promote rejuvenation in cells.

The Power of RG92

After isolating, culturing, and identifying the spa-derived algae, and then performing chemical analysis and safety tests, Saravio Cosmetics found this microorganism, which they called “RG92” – RG for Regeneration Gateway and 92 as the culture number – was surprisingly effective on hair and skin. Tests showed it could be used in skin care to soothe such ailments as itches, rashes, acne, and atopic dermatitis. It also helped in reversing hair loss and reducing rashes of the scalp, as well as in treating articular rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and healing wounds.

Science lies at the core of Saravio’s work and they do not consider themselves a typical cosmetics company. In fact, their findings earned them a Best Presentation Award at the World Hair Conference in 2013. After establishing a patent with their work on RG92, the firm developed it into several products that Saravio Cosmetics calls “the first ever hot spring algae-based products for beauty, and the treatment and prevention of inflammatory diseases.” At their Oita Onsenza flagship shop in Asakusa, their two best-sellers are a bath salts series and a lotion that can be applied to the skin after bathing.

Spa-derived algae at Saravio's HQ

Selected products from Saravio's "Mobile Spa" product line, courtesy of Saravio Cosmetics Ltd.

Taking the Hot Spring to the Customer

Saravio Cosmetics is already selling products in Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong and Korea to some extent, but is now looking into Singapore and other ASEAN countries, before ultimately taking their products global. While their products are currently produced in Japan, Hamada says the company is also considering OEM arrangements with possible production overseas, depending on the country.

The company hopes that more people around the world can experience the benefit of natural hot springs. “Ideally, people would come to the hot spring for treatment, but for those who cannot, they can use these products instead,” says Kaseda.

Based on interview in February 2016