The Horrors of Skincare: Creepy 3D-Printing of Human Skin

No, dear reader, you are not having a nightmare and this is not a new sci-fi flick about runaway angry skin and other hostile organs coming to life to get you and/or your relatives. It is as practical a concept as science being applied to art. There is, in fact, more science albeit behind the lines, in the business of beauty, than there is art. The need for human epidermis is constant despite the fact thta L'Oreal's lab facilities in Lyon, France, grow thousands of skin samples annually. Speeding up and automating the process are primary goals.


L'Oreal Logo: Source: Biz NewsL'Oreal Logo: Source: Biz News


 Current skin-farming techniques

Since banning animal testing back in 2003, L'Oreal has resorted to other techniques to farm the much-needed skin. The skin tissue, which is donated by plastic surgery pateints, is broken down into cells that are fed a special diet and grown in an enviornment that simulates the human body. According to Bloomberg, of the more than 100,000 skin samples the company produces annually, half are used for L'Oreal's own research and the other half are sold to both competitiors and pharmaceutical companies.


L'Oreal Skin Testing: Source: L'OrealL'Oreal Skin Testing: Source: L'Oreal


Skin farming is an arduous  process. One sample alone takes about a week to form and is half a square centimeter wide and up to one millimeter thick (about half the thickness of a nickel). L'Oreal's hope is that Organovo's technology will speed up production as the need for human skin is endless.

L'Oreal and Organovo

L'Oreal has sought the services of bio-ink technology  to speed up the skin-engineering process. They have joined forces with Organovo, a startup based in SanDiego that offers a new dimension to medical research by designing and creating multi-cellular, functioning human tissue via 3-D printing technology. Their creations imitate real human tissue. In 2014, bio-ink, their special techhnology, made national headlines for creating the world's first functional liver. This merger with L'Oreal marks the company's entry into the beauty industry.


 Bio-Printing Machine: Source: OrganovoBio-Printing Machine: Source: Organovo


In the words of L'Oreal's Global Vice President, Guive Balooch: "This collaboration has the potential  to disrupt and even transform the beauty industry. Our partnership will not only bring about new, advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but where this new field of technology can take us is boundless."

Research for this project is expected to last for five years and will take place in Organovo's lab and L'Oreal's new research center in California. It is a merger certain to be victorious with L'Oreal backing the research and providing the skin expertise combined with Organovo's bio-printing technology.


Skin Farming: Source: L'OrealSkin Farming: Source: L'Oreal


Organovo's bio-printing process

The generation of multi-cellular building blocks (bio-ink) from the cells targeted to construct the desired tissue is dependant on the selection of a design that a bio-printer can utilize within a laboratory environment. A bio-printer distributes bio-ink building blocks layer by layer. Tissues become three-dimensional becasue they are built up vertically. In summation, this 3-D printing technology makes it possible to actually create tissues that simulate certain aspects of real human material and can be tailored to produce tissues in a variety of formats.

The future of bio-printing and skin production

L'Oreal is a pioneer in ethical manufacturing. This cosmetic giant has found innovative ways  to produce the skin it so desperately needs for its research. While creepy and crawly, this represents a major step in technology's advancement into the beauty industry.

Closing thoughts on skin care:

Good skin isi the best foundation for your make-up . ~ Holland Roden



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