Miniature tests to limit waste
Sustainable development

At L’Oréal, since eco-design is integrated throughout a product’s life cycle, innovation processes systematically adopt eco-design rules. Tests and trials are already undergoing “miniaturisation” to help reduce the production of waste. Frédéric Leroy, Director of the Predictive Evaluation Department at L'Oréal's Aulnay Research Centre, analyses the origins and benefits of miniaturization.

Frédéric Leroy, Director of the Department of Predictive Testing at the research center in Aulnay

"The principle is a simple one: to generally reduce as much as possible the quantity of substances used during tests. For instance, when testing a hair colour product, we had, for decades, worked on either wigs of several hundred grams of hair, or locks of a few grams. To reduce the consumption of both hair and chemical products, we gradually decreased the quantities of hair used down to mini-locks, then to samples in small test tubes, and then finally to the stage of hair powder. Today, only 10 milligrams of hair and just a few milligrams of chemical products are used for our hair colour, hair care and make-up tests (mascaras, for example)."

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"Historically, this systematic miniaturisation was initiated by biology, which can go as far as conducting tests on a single molecule. L’Oréal’s approach thus consisted of extrapolating these concepts to far more physical tests that are closer to the actual usage properties of cosmetics products.

Apart from the obvious economic benefit, miniaturising tests limits waste and is totally in line with a sustainable development approach. Handling small samples has also led to productivity gains, because tests are more widely automated. The result is time saved, improved traceability, increased reliability and the possibility of carrying out as many experiments as required.”