The Innovation Dynamic and The Principle of Anticipation

Dynamique de l'innovation et principe d'anticipation

© Bertrand Stark for L'Oréal Research & Innovation

Dynamique de l'innovation et principe d'anticipation

© Bertrand Stark for L'Oréal Research & Innovation

One of the uncontested drivers of our sustainable growth consists in the dynamics of our Research and Innovation which have always been at the core of our corporate strategy. We never compromise on the quality and safety of our products and this remains a fundamental commitment to beauty-care professionals and consumers. The innovation dynamic is based on a large portfolio of several thousand raw materials which is subject to constant adjustments. Each year, we introduce numerous raw materials while deciding, at the same time, to no longer use a certain number of others. Within our innovation dynamics we consider that it is necessary to take into account societal concerns and perceived emergent risks with respect to certain ingredients or groups of ingredients. This is very naturally incorporated in our innovation process in order to enhance the performance of our products and continuously improve their safety.

Many years ago, we established worldwide scientific and societal monitoring, which enables us to evaluate the intensity and pertinence of numerous weak signals relating to certain ingredients or groups of ingredients used in our products. On the basis of those evaluations, pursuant to application of the principle of anticipation in our innovation dynamics, we are able to take the decision to no longer use an ingredient in our products or to restrict use by reducing its concentration or restricting an ingredient to particular product categories. For example, we took the decision to discontinue using diethyl phthalate or triclosan, to reduce the concentrations for use of phenylenediamine in our hair-color products and to prefer exclusive use of short-chain parabens (ethyl and methyl parabens) although current international regulations enable their use. Such progressive changes incorporated in our responsible innovation process enable continuous enhancement of the quality, performance and safety of our products.

In parallel, for the selection of new ingredients, we have set up a considerable platform of predictive tests, which do not employ laboratory animals, in order to identify the biological alerts that we wish to prevent. Examples include not selecting new raw materials that have the ability to interact with certain hormone receptors (endocrine disruptors). The platform consists of in vitro studies conducted on cell receptors, cell cultures, reconstructed tissues and even live organisms such as fish eggs. We also use in silico tests based on mathematical models and toxicological expert systems. Thanks to this effective screening, the societal preoccupations and perceived emergent risks such as endocrine modulation are taken into account in the selection of our ingredients or groups of ingredients and in the overall assessment of their safety.

In the context of our policy of anticipation, we have developed proactive strategies in the field of microbiological protection of formulae consisting in synthesizing new preservatives endowed with an irreproachable safety profile and studied the impact of certain substances contained in our products or their packaging systems, sometimes only as traces, on aquatic ecosystems.

Our innovation dynamics thus incorporates the fundamental principle of anticipation in which no risk, that is not yet scientifically proven or is only perceived by society, is neglected in the safety assessment. This ensures that our consumers can use our products with every confidence.