L’Oréal to Start 3-D Printing Human Skin

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File under: fun fact you may not know about your favorite beauty brands.

In addition to being in the business of skin care, many brands are also in the business of producing skin. According to a new report from Bloomberg, one cosmetics giant in particular–L’Oréal–is partnering with bio-printing startup Organovo to take things to a futuristic new level by 3-D printing living, breathing derma.

Skin farming is nothing new to the beauty conglomerate: According to the report, L’Oréal started growing its own skin samples in the 1980s from human tissue donated by plastic surgeons. Today, more than 100,000 skin samples are produced annually, covering a range of ages and ethnicities. But, even that is not enough to keep up with the pace of innovation required of the company. This new partnership will allow L’Oréal a way to speed up and automate skin production for product research and testing within the next five years, and lessen dependency on human tissue donations.

While this might all sound a little uncomfortable, consider this: Bio-printing human skin (and other tissues) is nothing new in the medical world and has been crucial to helping pharmaceutical and biotech companies make advances in medicine. Now, by harnessing the technology for cosmetics, companies can develop even more high-tech products, while making a huge stride towards ending animal testing. The “potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless,” says Guive Balooch, vice president of L’Oréal’s Tech incubator. 

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