The Green Sciences revolution

At L’Oréal, science has always held a special place. It has been the Group’s beating heart, cradle of innovation and surefire guarantee of product safety and quality for over a century. Using Green Sciences to revamp its formulas, Research & Innovation seizes every opportunity presented by the dual revolution in science and technology to create increasingly high-performance, inclusive and sustainable beauty.

Barbara Lavernos

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology

Our Green Sciences transition is a crucial contributor to our present and future performance and is, without a doubt, the science of tomorrow. L’Oréal Research & Innovation is determined to be the beauty sector pioneer in this new field of responsible, disruptive innovation. Now more than ever, we believe in the power of science that is inspired by nature and amplified by technology.

  • Over €1.1 billion invested in Research & Innovation
  • 4,000 over 4,000 scientists worldwide
  • 561 patents filed in 2022
  • 61% of formula ingredients are biobased or derived from abundant minerals or circular processes


Nature and life open up new fields for Research

L’Oréal has committed to improving the environmental profile of all its products by 2030. This ambitious promise requires an indepth transformation from Fundamental Research through to formula design and manufacturing. By using the best of technology to harness the power of life, Research & Innovation plays an active role in the fullyfledged scientific revolution now underway: the rise of Green Sciences.

Taking inspiration from the living world while protecting the planet

This transformation is underpinned by four pillars. First, sustainable agriculture. The goal is to preserve biodiversity while ensuring security of supply of raw materials, by managing water resources, preserving soil quality, limiting land occupancy footprint and carbon emissions thanks to innovative cultural practices and technologies. Then comes green extraction, which allows the direct extraction of the most active molecules from a natural resource. Green chemistry is the third pillar of Green Sciences. A chemistry based on 12 principles to obtain molecules that can be developed with a minimal impact on the environment. Finally, fermentation, and more broadly biotechnology, which consists in using the living such as plants or bacteria as “microfactories” to create new ingredients.
For example, the Group is working with French startup Microphyt, a microalgae specialist, to conduct targeted research on these microorganisms and uncover new properties for use in cosmetics. Natural and renewable, microalgae are perfectly suited to L’Oréal’s sustainability goals. They can be used as ingredients, particularly active ingredients, or to inspire biomimetic processes. Using exclusive technology in a controlled manner, Microphyt produces one of the most diverse selections of microalgae in the world.

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Exploring new fields of research

Green Sciences are opening up unprecedented new fields of exploration to unlock nature’s many remaining secrets while taking a step back from petrochemicals. To step up opportunities, L’Oréal is partnering with top experts in the field, including universities, startups and research institutes. Within this dynamic ecosystem, each stakeholder shares their knowledge and discoveries to develop new applications in cosmetics or skin health. For example, Dutch startup Micreos helped to develop medical treatment Lipikar Eczéma MED by La RochePosay by sharing a lysin molecule which targets bacteria that are harmful to skin flora without harming the rest of the skin microbiome. L’Oréal then went on to use the molecule to create Endobioma, a unique active ingredient that targets the bacteria that cause eczema. The Group has also partnered with startup Abolis to invent a bioprocess to produce ceramides of natural origin.

These efforts, in line with L’Oréal for the Future, are helping the Group achieve its goal of ensuring that 95% of ingredients in its formulas are biobased, derived from abundant minerals or from circular processes. By the end of 2022, it had already reached 61%.

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Innovating for health and beauty

Research to boost inclusiveness

Many factors, from ethnicity to age, nutritional habits and geographical and cultural environment, can impact hair and skin type. Embracing this remarkable diversity is a real challenge but also an incredible source of innovation for L’Oréal scientists, who invent and develop increasingly inclusive products every year.

A precise understanding of all skin and hair types

In 2022, Research & Innovation launched a major study of 15,000 people of all ages, genders, complexions, hair types and ethnic origins in eight countries. The programme aims to boost the Group’s diversity expertise worldwide, to develop increasingly inclusive services in line with applicable regulations. The study aims to gather reliable personal information and data from a sample group that is representative of more than half the global population.

This insight complements targeted studies focused on consumer concerns, like the one conducted by the Research Centre in South Africa on natural African hair and the impact of combing and braiding. It analysed the damage caused to the hair structure by these hairdressing practices as well as repair mechanisms within the hair fibre. Inclusive expertise is a powerful innovation driver.

Brazil: a land of diversity and innovation

In Brazil, L’Oréal decided to expand its tinted sun care range to better match skin phenotype diversity in the country. The Group developed 11 new formulas and adopted a new shade nomenclature based on a scale from 1.0 to 6.0, from very light to very dark, spawned through collaboration between L’Oréal Research & Innovation, several Group brands and independent stakeholders.

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The Anthelios sunscreen range by La RochePosay was chosen for the launch of this innovation. The diversity found in Brazilian skin phenotypes is also present in hair types: an extensive study of curly and coily hair and beauty routines unique to Brazil gave rise to the Elvive Cachos Longos dos Sonhos haircare range by L’Oréal Paris.

Science and technology for diversity

Technology and artificial intelligence are strengthening L’Oréal’s knowledge and expertise, particularly in the field of skin diagnoses. The Group and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology Nina Jablonski recently put out a scientific paper on the development of a machine learning method based on photographs processed by artificial intelligence able to analyse facial characteristics of a diverse and inclusive population of women. The level of accuracy is on a par with clinical analysis. These very promising results mean the Group will be able to roll out the technology to provide a wide range of Beauty Tech applications for consumers.

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Excellence and innovation in professional products

An innovative showerhead reduces salon water use by up to 69%

In 2022, the Group launched the Water Saver showerhead, designed in partnership with Swiss startup Gjosa. The device can reduce water use by up to 69% compared with the salon average thanks to “jet fusion” technology, which reduces the size of water droplets without negatively impacting the rinse experience. Rolled out in L’Oréal client hair salons, the innovation allows hairstylists to significantly reduce their water use as well as energy use for heating water. The Water Saver showerhead is an iconic innovation that embodies L’Oréal’s commitment to having a positive impact and supporting its stakeholders – hairdressers – as they undertake their green transition.

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ProXylane: the green chemistry antiageing revolution

Have you heard of Pro-Xylane? This patented molecule developed by L’Oréal is derived from beech xylose using an environmentally-friendly direct synthesis process that promotes a circular economy. It is one of the Group’s benchmark anti-ageing active ingredients in cosmetics.

Learn more about this cosmetics molecule – the first of its kind to be produced using the principles of green chemistry – and get a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating, revolutionary world of Green Sciences!

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UVMune 400: a major sunscreen innovation

More than 10 years of research by L’Oréal teams culminated in the development of UVMune 400, the Group’s first sun filter able to effectively absorb ultra-long UVA rays. This type of UV ray is particularly harmful, causing a wide range of skin health problems. The patented Mexoryl 400 filter, which underpins the technology, has already been the topic of six scientific publications. It was designed to have an improved environmental profile.

This discovery is quite simply L’Oréal’s most significant advance in sun care innovation in 30 years, as well as a solution to a major public health issue: protection from long UVA rays. UVMune 400 is now available in the Anthelios range by La Roche-Posay, the Group’s first brand to benefit from this high-performance technology.

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Safety and efficacy supported by biology

Through its subsidiary Episkin, L’Oréal produces reconstructed human tissue to test the effects of new ingredients and products. Opened in Lyon (France) in 2011, Episkin is now the world leader in tissue engineering and continues to innovate. In 2022, Episkin launched its reconstructed human cornea model, SkinEthic HCE, in Latin America. It is used to test the efficacy and safety of products and their ingredients for the eyes. SkinEthic HCE is now made in Brazil, and L’Oréal decided to use it to benefit a wide range of industries from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals, medicine and agricultural chemistry.

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