With nearly $30 billion in sales in 2016, L’Oréal is the largest pure play beauty company in the world. Its Technology Incubator has been creating novel products for years and one L’Oréal is always creating new products for the beauty market.
One example is My UV Patch, a stretchable skin sensor that monitors UV absorption. In conjunction with La Roche-Posay, a L’Oréal skin care brand, and MC10 Inc., L’Oréal is merging the worlds of wearables, safety and awareness.
Since the heart-shaped patch’s introduction in January 2016, more than one million patches have been sold around the world including in key markets like the US, France, Russia, Australia and Chile. And with more than 100,000 downloads of the My UV Patch app, it is obvious that consumers are concerned about the effects of sunlight on their skin.
No wonder that Guive Balooch, global vice president, L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, said the My UV Patch has been a rewarding project on many levels.
“Through my academic and research-based work, I’ve gotten to work on some very exciting new technologies in wearables for ‘reading’ skin and levels of different absorption and output,” explained Balooch. Working with MC10 Inc., a wearable technology company, L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator developed the sensor’s ultrathin, stretchable adhesive.
“L’Oréal skin care brand La Roche-Posay provides the patch for free with purchase of their sunscreen,” noted Balooch.“My UV Patch unites innovative technology with L’Oréal’s extensive scientific research on skin and La Roche-Posay’s mission to increase consumers’ sun-safe behaviors.”
Being aware of the impact of sunlight on the skin is becoming increasing important. A patch is a good way to monitor the skin, but the key is to make it unobtrusive. Balooch said that L’Oreal did just that.
“We needed to create a wearable that wouldn’t interfere with the user’s daily routine – it had to be very comfortable, flexible and thin,” he explained. “Most wearables are accessories that you take off and on and some can’t be used for all activities.The challenge was to create a sensor that’s like a second skin, but also highly effective and accurate.”
To achieve this, L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator created and tested several designs and algorithms to ensure My UV Patch gives users the most accurate reading of their UV absorption, while keeping its size at an almost imperceptible level.
“To ensure the wearer’s comfort, so that they’ll really be inspired to wear and use the patch, My UV Patch is only about one square inch in area and 50 micrometers thick—that’s half the thickness of an average strand of hair,” Balooch noted. “It’s easy to forget you are even wearing it, which is why the app sends you reminders to check your UV levels regularly.”
The stretchable patch contains photosensitive dyes that factor in baseline skin tone and change colors when exposed to UV rays to indicate varying levels of sun exposure.The patch lasts for up to five days. Users scan the patch with their smartphone, which then reports the level of UV absorption.
“You ‘read’ your patch via the My UV Patch app, which uses the camera on your phone to scan the photosensitive dyes,” Balooch added. “The app then analyzes the changes in your patch to assess UV absorption.”
Balooch said that consumer reaction to My UV Patch has been excellent.
“The feedback has been great,” he added.“We really worked to make My UV Patch something that would appeal to everyone—it works exactly the same regardless of age, gender or skin tone, so there’s no excuse not to be aware of your UV exposure.Sun exposure is a major health concern globally—did you know that more people die from skin cancer than car accidents each year in Australia? People are becoming far more aware of the time they spend in the sun and the right measures to keep themselves safe.”
The interaction online with the app shows the level of interest in the patch.
“There have been over 100,000 downloads of the My UV Patch app, which has been designed to present streamlined information and be easy-to-use for every user,” Balooch pointed out.“In a 2016 study by Ipsos, 63% of consumers felt they experienced less sunburn and 37% used more facial sunscreen thanks to their awareness from My UV Patch.We currently have one million patches being used in 35 countries.”
L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator is always looking at the next technology. Through technology such as My UV Patch, the Smart Hairbrush and 3D Bioprinted Skin or many others, L’Oréal is positioning itself for the future, according to Balooch.
“L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator always has a number of projects in the works,” he concluded.“A big piece of our work is combining tech innovation with innovations in beauty, so our projects go through rigorous testing both in the labs and with brands.We have some very exciting projects around customization and product efficacy coming later this year, and we’ll be at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018 for the third year in a row.”
About the Author
David Savastano is the longtime editor of Ink World, a sister publication of Happi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org