L’Oreal Will Soon Use 3-D Printers to Create Human Skin

Cosmetic giant L’Oreal is teaming up with with Organovo, a company that “designs and creates multicellular, dynamic, and functional human tissues to create artificial human skin to use in product testing.

According to Guive Balooch, the global vice president of L’Oréal’s tech incubator, the process starts by using “bio-ink” a substance made of human cells, stem cell sources and donated tissue.

“The tissue is printed into a matrix, where co-printed gel holds the form or negative spaces needed in the printing process but is removed within 24 hours, leaving behind a 100 percent cellular tissue,” Balooch explained.

The final product will closely mimic real human skin, making it perfect for testing purposes.

“The final tissue is 100 percent cellular, with no scaffolds or synthetic structures, to get as close as possible to the behavior of the cells and tissues in their natural environment without foreign material,” Balooch pointed out.

L’Oreal did not indicate when the 3-D skin printing would be up and ready, but some are skeptical about the cosmetic company’s plans.

“I think the science behind it – using 3D printing methods with human cells – sounds plausible,” Adam Friedmann, a consultant dermatologist told the BBC, adding that it the cosmetic industry and skin printing seem an odd fit.

“I can understand why you would do it for severe burns or trauma but I have no idea what the cosmetic industry will do with it.”

Currently, L’Oreal already grows skin in its lab for product testing.

In a statement, they said the possibilities are “boundless” for the new technology.

“Our partnership [with Organovo] will not only bring about new advanced in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless,” the L’Oreal team said about their project which is still in the early stages of research.

Photo Credit: “Human skin structure”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons