L’Oreal Wants To Test Its Products On 3D-Printed Human Skin

Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Just in case your day was feeling a little too predictable, we bring you this: Bloomberg reports that L'Oreal is ready to make its way into a whole new realm of product testing — using 3D-printed human skin. The company announced this month that it's partnering with bioprinter Organovo, which has already made huge progress in 3D-printing human organs and tissue for medical research purposes. As bizarre as it sounds, bioprinting skin actually seems less crazy than what the company is currently doing: It runs lab facilities that are responsible for farming 100,000 human skin samples every year. This amounts to about 54 square feet of skin, says Bloomberg. Though, at 0.5 square centimeters each and with a maximum thickness of 1 millimeter, those 100,000 skin samples are pretty tiny.  Bloomberg explains: "Using the current method, skin samples are grown from tissues donated by plastic surgery patients in France and are then cut into thin slices and broken down into cells. Those cells are placed in trays, fed a special, proprietary diet, and exposed to biological signals that mimic those of actual skin." However, the process requires an army of scientists and a lot of work. So, L'Oreal wants to move away from it and instead start automating the process of creating skin samples to test for both safety and how well products actually work.  With Organovo's help — and in yet another move away from animal testing — L'Oreal wants to start testing its products on bioprinted "living, breathing derma," says Bloomberg. To make the tissue, cells are very precisely printed into a dish using "bioink." These samples tend to be more similar to actual skin and easier to replicate than those currently being created. If they're going to be in a specific shape, such as a kidney, cells are poured into 3D-printed artificial scaffolds. The scaffolds keep the cells in place and disappear when the cells are able to hold their own.  Welcome to the future, kids. Here, your pop stars lead explosive girl gangs, your cars drive themselves, and your beauty products are tested on bioprinted freaking skin. We're into it.

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