L’Oréal deepens scientific focus on personalization with uBiome partnership

L’Oréal has announced a partnership with microbial genomics company, uBiome, to deepen its research into the skin’s bacterial ecosystem, in order to help inform future product development.

Unveiled at this year’s SXSW festival taking place in Austin, Texas, the partnership aims to arm L’Oréal’s tech incubator team with the tools to better understand the trillions of bacterias that live in the microorganisms that make up a person’s body – known as the microbiome – and provide an important barrier to their skin.

“When it comes to skincare, people often audition product after product to determine what works for their unique skin. At L’Oréal, our goal is to advance scientific research and leverage new technologies to change this relationship, by allowing deeper levels of personalization,” said Guive Balooch, VP of L’Oréal’s technology incubator.

“The microbiome has major implications for skin’s overall appearance and health. With the global reach of uBiome’s community of citizen scientists, our two companies will be able to extend our respective research in this space, and better understand the interplay between bacterial diversity and skin health.”

L’Oréal’s research into the skin’s microbiome started over a decade ago, and findings include the link between the microbiome, skin barrier function and immune responses as well as the effect of bacteria on ageing skin. This has helped inform many new products for the beauty group, including brands La Roche-Posay and Vichy.

“A major finding from our research shows that skin disorders, much like gut ones, are often linked to a problem of microbial imbalance. Good proportions of each microorganism are key to ensuring skin health,” says Luc Aguillar, a research director at L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation division.

The human skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is home to roughly 1,000 species of bacteria, which can not only affect skin health and appearance, but contribute to common skin concerns such as acne, eczema and rosacea as well as body odor and the aforementioned ageing.

“So many clues about our overall health come from the amazing world of microorganisms,” said Jessica Richman, co-founder and CEO of uBiome. “L’Oréal is an ideal partner for uBiome as it has had a strong focus in scientific innovation in this space for years. Their expertise, combined with uBiome’s advanced understanding of the skin microbiome will allow us to pave the way for the future of personalized skin care.”

Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley-based uBiome has the world’s largest database of human microbiomes, and has seven issued patents and 250 pending. Its platform includes four kits for at-home testing that has been used by thousands of consumers, doctors and more than 200 research institutions globally.

The partnership is being introduced at L’Oréal’s “Know Your Skin” exhibit at SXSW until Monday, March 11, where other featured innovations by the group are on show, including the My Skin Track UV devices (including the newly-introduced clip), the Custom D.O.S.E by SkinCeuticals, and an on-site skincare experience by Kiehl’s.

Guive Balooch will be joining the Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, on stage at SXSW on Monday, March 11, to talk about the future of connected beauty.

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