Beauty Is Only (3-D Printed) Skin Deep

Beauty Is Only (3-D Printed) Skin Deep
Image credit: ohayman | Foap.com

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Former West Coast Editor
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Global cosmetics giant L'Oréal has waged a battle against gravity for more than a century, with countless creams, peels and potions as its weapons. Now the global beauty brand is pulling out the latest, greatest, high-tech guns in the age-old war on wrinkles: 3-D printers that make real human skin.

L'Oréal USA, the largest arm of the French cosmetics company, recently announced that it is teaming up with a San Diego-based bioprinting startup called Organovo Holdings to print actual skin tissue.

Related: Skin and Bones: Oh, the Body Parts You Can Make With 3-D Bio-printers

Not only will the new partnership mean gobs more man-made skin for L'Oréal to experiment with, it will also accelerate its shift away from testing cosmetics and other products on animals, reports The Washington Post. Rejoice, mice everywhere.

Dabbling in skin replication in the lab is nothing new to 106-year-old L'Oréal. In its endless pursuit of the Fountain of Youth, the company has researched reconstructed skin for the past three decades, growing thousands of human skin specimens in a “human skin factory,” though never via 3-D bioprinters before. Now, it’s looking to Organovo -- which has worked with Merck to successfully 3-D print multicellular human liver and kidney tissues -- to further improve how it tests its products for safety and performance, and maybe eventually much more.

Related: This Smart Skin-Scanning App Could Save Your Life

Here, you can see how Organovo prints functional skin samples:

 

The 3-D printed skin tissue will be produced using Organovo’s NovoGen Bioprinting Platform. Using microscopic building blocks from human skin cells, the printing process involves a skin “bio ink” that is blended with a filler gel and tested in a tray.

Aside from using bioprinted skin to improve product assessments, 3-D printed skin tissue is already being tested in clinical trials as a treatment for burns and to reduce scars. Perhaps someday it will even be used to fill in crow’s feet and laugh lines, too? A dab here, a dab there and you’re good as new. Maybe.

Related: How a 3-D Printer Called 'Mink' Could Completely Make Over the $55 Billion Beauty Industry

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