An Inside Look at L’Oréal’s Skin Care Research –

L’Oréal Paris been creating innovative skin care formulas for more than 100 years. But it’s not every day that the world’s biggest beauty company welcomes—virtually, of course—journalists into its laboratories to take a closer look at the cosmetic chemistry behind some of the best-known names in beauty. Last month, Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, global brand president, L’Oréal Paris, greeted attendees to The Other Side Summit to showcase some of its in-depth research. L’Oréal boasts 4,000 researchers in 21 research centers. Each year, the team rolls out dozens of beauty products supported by 500 patents and 150 scientific publications.

No matter what the chemistry involved or the product produced, safety is paramount, Elisabeth Bouhadana, global scientific director, L’Oréal Paris International, told attendees. She also mentioned that before a product reaches store shelves, more than 100 experts and a series of 100 controls will have been involved in its creation.

Anne Colonna, global advanced research director, explained how the company employs learnings from biology, chemistry, biotechnology, optics, biophysics and mathematics to create novel skin and hair care products. She explained that L’Oréal teams are devoted to three major domains: skin and hair knowledge; the development of measurement methods to increase knowledge; and the evaluation of ingredient safety and efficacy, with the goal of developing new ones.

“We have hundreds of scientists dedicated to skin science, to skin engineering, skin metabolism, skin regeneration, skin aging, microbiome and exposome,” said Colonna. “We are convinced that it is by opening up our research even further and creating strong scientific partnerships that we will be able to offer our consumers truly innovative, efficient, safe and sustainable products.”

The company employs a five-step safety validation program. It includes scientific review of actives, predictive in vitro tests on its Episkin reconstructed skin followed by human repeat insult patch tests (HRIPT) and dermatological tests. From there, L’Oréal conducts clinical and consumer tests under real conditions of use. Finally, the company conducts “cosmetovigilance;” i.e., it remains on the alert for reports of safety issues. Cosmetovigilance includes adverse effect reporting, assessment of reports and risk management.

“Our hyaluronic acid technology was tested with more than 15,000 applications, during three different clinical studies using several biophysical measurements,” explained Bouhadana. “Multi skin tone clinical studies were crucial to check the safety and performance on all skin types. Evaluations included the most advanced Raman spectroscopy to observe the penetration of HA, alongside Dermotrace measures in order to correlate the exceptionally long-lasting replumping effect with the penetration of the micro HA.”

L’Oréal researchers are not averse to revisiting old chemistry. Company executives said they have revisited and reinvented the L’Oréal raw material and formulation portfolios by incorporating green science principles such as circularity.

For example, Revitalift Pure HA Serum includes sustainably produced hyaluronic acid. Lactic bacteria feed on locally-sourced cereals before getting extracted via a green process, according to L’Oréal. From here, researchers obtain macro- and micro-fragmented hyaluronic acids, both of which are highly-efficient to improving the penetration of moisture. By 2030, 95% of all ingredients will be of renewable origin, derived from abundant minerals or circular processes. L’Oréal is reducing the water -use phase in certain formulas via two-in-one products, less-rinse beauty routines and non-rinse hair care treatments. L’Oréal’s packaging ambition is, that by 2025, 100% of its plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable. Furthermore, the company plans to make lighter-weight packaging. For example, by reducing the weight of the Revitalift jar, L’Oréal reduced the use of glass for this product by 11 grams a unit. That move alone saves 434 tons of glass a year.

Presenters reviewed a number of actives in L’Oréal’s arsenal, including retinol, glycolic acid, antioxidants and Mexoryl, its patented UV filter. The company’s patent-pending Retinol Guard stabilization technology makes this vitamin A material highly bioavailable to skin. It accelerates cell multiplication while boosting dermal fibers to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. According to Bouhadana, L’Oréal’s retinol science is superior because it optimized the industrial process drawing on a unique combination of stabilizing agents that safeguards the formula for a concentrated hit of pure retinol.

“Over the course of our research, we have discovered new properties of retinol that could lead to new ways to use it,” said Bouhadana.

One of L’Oréal’s newest innovations is Revitalift Laser Retinol + Niacinamide Pressed Cream. Using its pressed cream technology, retinol and niacinamide are pressed into a hydrating, yet lightweight night cream with nourishing oils.

“When we combine retinol, known for fighting key signs of aging, such as wrinkles and uneven skin textures, and niacinamide, which helps soothe and brighten skin, what we get is an intense dual action,” said Bouhadana. “Wrinkles are not the only sign of premature aging. [The cream] is specifically adapted for women who want to counter wrinkles and who are looking for a more even, healthier looking complexion.”

According to test results, Revitalift Retinol + Niacinamide Pressed Cream reduces the appearance of wrinkles after 14 nights. Face and neck contours are firmer and tighter and the complexion looks brighter and more even, according to L’Oréal. After eight weeks, radiance is boosted by 65%.

“All dermatologists will confirm, retinol is one of the most efficient cosmetic molecules,” added Bouhadana.

Skin’s ability to retain moisture declines after age 30. Hyaluronic acid retains a thousand times its weight in water. L’Oréal’s Revitalift Filler 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum is the world’s No. 1 selling serum.

“We discovered that a combination of two types of hyaluronic acid is particularly effective and offers dual anti-aging action,” said Ruijun Chen, formulation engineer. “Macro hyaluronic acid stays on the surface of skin to mechanically slow down transepidermal water loss. Micro hyaluronic acid penetrates the skin and is able to activate specific receptors, called CD44, which stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid.”

Chen noted that macro HA rehydrates and smooths the skin’s surface. Micro HA penetrates and plumps skin from the inside. This combination of HA ensures that the formula will not be sticky. L’Oréal researchers were so pleased with the results from the HA that they created nine True Match tinted replumping serums formulated with 1% micro HA. Revitalift Filler 2.5% Eye Serum combines 1.25% micro hyaluronic acid and .25% macro hyaluronic acid with 1% caffeine and niacinamide. With regular use, eyes look five years younger in two weeks, according to L’Oréal. After two weeks, dark circles are diminished by 5.4%, under eyes are reduced 12.9% and crow’s feet wrinkles are reduced 7.5%. After six weeks, dark circles and under eye lines are reduced 21.9%. Crow’s feet wrinkles are reduced 10.1%, eyelid droopiness is reduced 7.8% and puffiness around the eye is decreased 7.2%.

Revitalift 5% Pure Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner targets the over-accumulation of hyperkeratinized cells. To gently exfoliate skin, the formula contains 5% hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid (HEPES), a pH buffer. Its more neutral-basic pH (7.0-7.6) balances the acidic nature of the glycolic acid. After four weeks of use, fine lines and skin imperfections are reduced. In eight weeks, dark spots are diminished.

In antioxidant research, L’Oréal demonstrated the efficacy of antioxidants to complement natural cell defenses, explained Nathalie Deshayes, scientific program manager, discovery domain pollution and exposome. A lack of sleep alters the skin cell’s ability to regenerate efficiently. According to Deshayes, vitamin E and Neohesperidin have complementary action to stimulate internal antioxidant defenses.

But regardless of the active ingredient, night is the perfect moment to be receptive to skin protective and repair actives. L’Oréal’s Age Perfect Cell Renewal Midnight Serum contains the patented Antioxidant Recovery Complex with vitamin E and Neohesperidin to “protect mother cells from oxidative damage and combat age-related sluggish cell regeneration.”

Today, no cosmetic technology presentation is complete without mentioning artificial intelligence. L’Oréal’s new Skin Genius technology uses augmented reality and AI to provide consumers with personalized advice and product recommendations. According to L’Oréal, Skin Genius offers a reliability rate that matches dermatologists’ diagnostics by 95%.

Through a combination of new technology, a century of commitment and a focus on sustainability, L’Oréal appears well-positioned to create novel beauty solutions for years to come. 


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