Advanced technologies at the heart of innovation

By putting technological innovation at the service of its research teams, L’Oréal provides them with powerful means to express their creativity and take knowledge of skin and hair farther and faster.

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"

Observing the skin through biophotonic microscopy

Observing the skin through biophotonic microscopy

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.

Virtually Yours
Text transcription of the video

A head of hair is made up of 150,000 individual hairs that can be straight, wavy, curly, frizzy, short or long. At the slightest movement or breeze, they each behave with a certain level of independence. Their movement is a natural phenomenon so complex, that no one has been able to create an equation or produce a comparable simulation. No one knows how to accurately predict the movement of a given head of hair or the bounce of a curl, or anticipate how hair will act when cut or wet or after it has grown. This is the challenge that L’Oréal group’s advanced research teams took on in the year 2000.

The challenge was to link both static and dynamic form and properties to the intrinsic factors of hair. Faced with the complexity of the problem, L’Oréal entrusted a young researcher in mathematical physics with the task of creating a configurable static model that would describe the mechanical behavior of a single hair, whatever its ethnicity.

But expanding this model to a full head of hair entailed other difficulties.

There was the issue of hair-to-hair interaction, as well as the issue of contact with the head and shoulders.

Our proposition was to settle for mechanically animating 100 to 200 guide hairs depending on hair type, then to use a combination of interpolation and extrapolation methods to be able to move onto a full head of hair, displaying thousands of strands.

The static simulation was a perfect representation of reality. However, a dynamic version remained volatile.

With the integration of the super helix model in the spring of 2006, a dynamic, configurable model of a full head of hair finally saw the light of day.

The gamble paid off. This new tool is the first in the world, paving the way for tremendous experiments by the research teams of L’Oréal.