- International beauty giant L'Oréal introduced a prototype of a wearable device that can track skin pH at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show Monday. My Skin Track pH captures small amounts of sweat from skin pores to give an accurate acidity reading on a dedicated mobile app within 15 minutes, according to a company announcement.
- L'Oréal's skincare brand La Roche-Posay will market the device this year to dermatologists in the U.S. on the basis that compromised pH levels may trigger skin inflammation that worsens dryness, eczema and atopic dermatitis. The company intends to collect research data before launching a direct-to-consumer product.
- L'Oréal worked with Epicore Biosystems, a developer of wearable sensors, to create the device, which received the CES 2019 Innovation Award as the "best of innovation" winner in the conference's wearable technology products category.
The health tech wearables market usually brings to mind wrist devices from Fitbit or Apple, which frequently focus on heart health. But in the past year, L'Oréal has ventured to develop and test new wearable technologies aimed at helping customers with their skincare and beauty needs. Consumers don't necessarily have to have a knack for makeup to appreciate L'Oréal's latest offering — according to the National Eczema Association; 1 in 10 Americans have some form of eczema.
"The scientific and medical communities have long known the link between skin pH levels and common skin concerns that millions of people experience every day," says Guive Balooch, Global Vice President of the L'Oréal Technology Incubator, an arm of L'Oréal's Research & Innovation Division.
The user places the device on their inner arm long enough to collect a sweat sample, which is indicated by two dots whose color gradually changes. The wearer then uses the My Skin Track pH app to photograph the sensor and analyze the pH measurement, which then suggests a personalized skincare regimen of La Roche-Posay products.
In its announcement, L'Oréal noted that healthy skin pH exists within the slightly acidic range between 4.5 and 5.5, and that when pH balance is changed due to environmental factors or underlying conditions, it can trigger inflammatory responses which can cause or exacerbate common skin concerns.
"While previous methods of measuring skin pH levels required rigid electronics or large sweat samples, My Skin Track pH captures and generates accurate readings from nearly imperceptible quantities of sweat," the press release said.
Technology has increasingly become a focus for the beauty company since it launched its Technology Incubator in 2012. In November, L'Oréal began marketing a wearable UV sensor called My Skin Track UV that's compatible with Apple's smartphones and tablets. The sensor is activated by the sun and is powered by the user's smartphone using near-field communication.
Debuting the new wearable pH tracker at CES appears to be a strategic move, as the annual conference has become a showcase for the latest consumer skincare tech. Neutrogena, the beauty brand owned by Johnson & Johnson, this week is demonstrating a mobile app that uses the iPhone's 3D camera to scan a user's face, letting the company create personalized face masks that will be shipped directly to customers.
Going forward, L'Oréal says it will further its microfluidics research in conjuction with longtime Epicore partners, Northwestern University's Center for Bio-Integrated Electronics and the Simpson Querrey Institute.
Maria Rachal contributed to this story.