Skin Care Lab: The Science Behind Your Skin Care Products
Skin care products go through many high-tech tests and machines and have their effectiveness carefully measured before touching our skin. We step into the skin care lab, where the testing is carried out.
Between 9 months and 2 years pass between the birth of a product in L’Oréal’s R&D lab and its entry onto the market. During this time, around 50 people are involved in its creation, and at each production stage it must go through (and pass) various tests.
1. Evaluation of ingredients
This is the first test undertaken by any skin care product. If the ingredients and raw materials selected are not totally effective, stable and cosmetically perfect, the formula needs to be rethought. There are other criteria depending on the product: whether the product needs to be rinsed (makeup remover oil) or not (anti-ageing serum), the part of the face or body concerned and even how often it needs to be used.
2. Stability testing
Once this first stage is complete, then comes the stability testing. Its role: to ensure that the formula's effectiveness will last. This is why our face creams spend 2 months in a heat chamber at 45°C, which is the equivalent of 3 years kept in your bathroom. If there are any issues, the initial formula is revised and corrected.
3. Microbiological testing
All products are tested at the Chevilly-Larue Microbiology Laboratory, a totally sterile unit. It is forbidden to enter without new overalls, a protective hair cover, overshoes and clean hands. There, high-performance equipment and cutting-edge scientific skills come together to test the microbiological characteristics of the formula, any contamination (in order to modify it) and the safety of its packaging. Once again, there can be no room for doubt and criteria are especially strict for products used around the eyes.
4. Instrumental testing
The aim: to evaluate the performance of facial skin care products. This could be described as a "before and after" test. Non-invasive evaluations are carried out on the 200 members of the public who are testing the creams of tomorrow. Some of the high-tech equipment found in the Instrumental Evaluation Unit:
• The SkinChip - A device that is derived from instruments that take digital prints. Measures the skin's hydration. In little more than ten seconds, it captures precise images of the skin to recreate its exact microrelief in a HD image. This map of the skin evaluates its degree of moisturisation and thus measures the effectiveness of a cream.
• The "chromasphere" - This instrument is patented by L’Oréal and analyses the colour of the skin. A map of all the different skin colours in the world has been created (66 tones in total)
• Measure wrinkle structure - This system takes various details about the geometry of wrinkles (depth, width, length) and compares them with the measurements at 28 days after starting to use the product. This is the simplest way of proving that an anti-ageing product is effective.
But that’s not all. After these preliminary tests, additional tests are often carried out by independent laboratories to confirm the initial results to ensure that only the best skincare and makeup products make it to your homes.