While the development of active ingredients and formulation remain at the heart of L'Oréal's innovation, the research teams have always relied on the most advanced technologies to make progress. Today, progress in medical imagery, robotics and even 3D modeling contribute to the development of innovative products. These tools enable researchers to work in a realistic, non invasive manner, on the way that skin and hair behave, or to accelerate the process of selection or creation of active molecules.
See inside the skin thanks to "virtual biopsy"
For a long time, it was thought that to look inside the human body, it was necessary to cut tissue. But progress in the field of medical imagery has made it possible to develop non invasive techniques. Biphotonic microscopy is one.
Thanks to this analytical tool, the L'Oréal researchers have gathered information in real time and three-dimensional images inside the skin, on its thickness, the variety of its structures and its composition on the micronic level. A means of evaluating the effectiveness of active ingredients and formulas in the epidermis up to the upper dermis.
In collaboration with the university teams at the Polytechnical school (LOB), L'Oréal's researchers have successfully adapted it to studies on skin. They have in a sense succeeded in shedding light on the inner skin. They can now count the layers of cells, quantify and track the evolution of collagen and elastin, directly involved in age-related changes to the skin or following on the application of products.
SkinChip® sensor, a highly effective measurement tool
To measure the level of skin hydration, L'Oréal uses a very effective tool, the SkinChip® sensor: it is able to capture detailed images of the skin in less than one-tenth of a second and renders its microrelief in a high resolution image. The evaluation of the level of hydration also makes it possible to design new products that are better adapted to the aging effects on skin.
Today, L'Oréal reserves the use of SkinChip® to cosmetic applications and could extend it to dermatology.
Robots working alongside researchers
The time devoted to creativity is an essential factor in the work of the research team. By introducing the HTS method (High Throughput Screening) into its research centers, L'Oréal enables the chemists and biologists to save time and give free rein to their creativity, by freeing them from routine tasks. This method of high throughput targeting of molecules relies on automation (thanks to analytic robots) of biological and chemical tests, and on a miniaturization of the product quantities tested. It makes it possible to rapidly analyze the behavior of tens of thousands of molecules every year and to identify the most active ones.
Hair was animated in 3D
A head of hair is 120,000 to 150,000 individual hairs that may be straight, curly, frizzy or smooth, short or medium length. Their movement is so complex it had never been successfully modeled before. However, cosmetics are not the only industry to be interested in modeling hair: the market for 3D animation and video games is also looking for a more realistic representation of the movement of hair on the heads of its heroes... Anticipating how hair will behave when wet, cut, or when it has grown is a real challenge. From the year 2000, after developing the first mathematical model of a single hair, the next stage was to model a strand and finally a full head of hair, in partnership with a INRI (French research institute specialising in computational sciences) laboratory in Grenoble, specialized in the representation of complex scenes. Success was achieved in 2006, with the development of a dynamic and configurable model of a head of hair. This world premiere opened up new fields of experience for L'Oréal's teams and gave them ideas for designing instrumental evaluation.