About L’ORÉAL Research 

Besides appearance, beauty relates to the fundamental desire for well-being. Because cosmetics provide self-confidence, self esteem and the ability to reach out to others, the worth of L’Oréal’s business is proved on a daily basis.

Each year L’Oréal edits a Sustainable Development Report that presents the group’s economic, social and environmental values and principles. The report expresses the group’s commitment for responsible, sustainable growth, built up over almost a century.

L’Oréal’s business is a celebration of diversity. The appearance and physical features of each person are unique, with differences that include age, skin and hair type. Our business is founded on respect and consideration for those differences and the capacity to match personal diversity with the diversity of our products and brands.

The group has chosen to focus on star brands, all of which are available worldwide, including:
L’Oréal Professionnel, Kérastase, Matrix, Redken, Mizani, L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline NY, Softsheen.Carson, Le club des créateurs, Lancôme, Biotherm, Helena Rubinstein, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Cacharel, Shu Uemura, Kiehl’s, Viktor & Rolf, La Roche-Posay, Vichy, SkinCeuticals, Inneov, Sanoflore and The Body Shop.


L’Oréal was founded in 1907 by chemical engineer Eugène Schueller who developed the first synthetic hair dye. While the early success of L’Oréal had its roots directly in the results of Schueller’s research, it was his vision that, in fact, guided the business to achieve what it is today.

L’Oréal’s research and expertise serves men and women the world over to help them to fulfil the essential need to ‘feel good about themselves’.

In 2006, L’Oréal invested 533 million €uros in R&D (which represents 3.4% of turnover). L’Oréal has gradually focused on five major, high value-added, cosmetics business segments: hair color, haircare, make-up, skincare and perfumes, in relatively well-balanced proportions.

Advanced Research is L’Oréal’s driver where innovation is concerned. This is where new raw materials are created, where skin and hair research is carried out, where new technologies are designed and ingredients selected, tested and assessed.

Evaluation at L’ORÉAL

Properties testing has always been part of L’Oréal’s culture for safety and effectiveness.

Numerous tests are used by L’Oréal’s laboratories to assess the tolerance of new formulas and to select the best carriers and the best ingredients, including tests on cell cultures and reconstructed skin and epidermis. These methods are used to investigate various fields, such as eye and skin tolerance, photo-toxicity, allergenic potentials and absorption through the skin.

L’Oréal has invested significant effort in assessing the effects of cosmetic products by measuring physical chemical properties associated with make-up, haircare and skincare. With a view to selecting and designing the most efficient active ingredients, we have developed dedicated High Throughput Screening (HTS) and High Throughput Experimentation technologies.

The Data Information Knowledge Pyramid


The data management architecture for the evaluation process is designed as a four-level pyramid (the data information knowledge pyramid). Each level of the pyramid represents a step of consolidation and abstraction.

It is also important to be able to track and retrieve metadata (data about data), the information describing the algorithm used to proceed from one level to the next.

Data model constraints are level-dependent: for the first two stages, Raw Data and Data, the data model is optimized for loading, whereas levels three and four, Information and Knowledge, are optimized for querying.

Implementation of ActivityBase

ActivityBase was chosen by L’Oreal for the management of raw data, data and metadata. PipelinePilot™ from Accelrys is used as an extraction, transform and load (ETL) tool to generate information from the data stored in ActivityBase databases. PipelinePilot is also used to load information into L’Oréal’s data warehouse, the data model of which has been optimized for data retrieval. A customized Intranet graphical user interface was developed to query information and to help the creation of researcher reports. This in-house software was developed using Microsoft® .NET technology and enables researchers to visualize results directly in Microsoft® Internet Explorer or export them to Microsoft® Excel or Spotfire™.


ActivityBase was implemented at L’Oréal in 2000, and version 5.4 is now used to manage four independent databases for Material Science HTE, Life Science and Haircare Development data.

The Material Science HTE is the oldest database, which includes 27 protocols and manages the data from four different laboratories:ű

  • Haircare
  • Skincare
  • Material Science
  • Compound Quality Control

The Life Science databases (HTS and Toxicology) contain 13 protocols in total, while the most recent database, dedicated to Hair Coloring Development, was created in 2005.


Experiment File Templates

For each type of workflow an experiment file template is defined, allowing the scientist to design an experiment, choose a protocol, register microtiter plates and generate testset objects in ActivityBase.

Raw data is processed by the ActivityBase automation engine, data is stored in an Oracle® database and raw data is organized in a file system generated by the ActivityBase engine.


Validation GUI

Due to the complexity of the results/child results/conditions, a customized interface was created to reject or accept results more rapidly, as exemplified for well validation.


Company Feedback

During the last seven years L’Oréal and IDBS have built a strong partnership. ActivityBase offers a stable, robust and versatile solution for the management of experimental data. As well as managing our data, the implementation of ActivityBase has also increased the quality of our data. The information system that we have built with ActivityBase allows the management of multiple types of data, from IC50 results to images and mechanical properties curves. Some specific modifications have been made in order to link results to raw materials, mixtures and formulations. ‘Custom properties’ are used to describe all the parameters related to these objects.

L’Oréal uses extensive consultancy support from IDBS in the form of basic consulting (through Datavance) for template building and advanced consulting from the French IDBS Global Professional Services for custom development.

Looking forward, the partnership is set to grow, with what is now a central and dedicated data management system for our four ActivityBase databases. The number of protocols in preparation is increasing and L’Oréal is also interested in testing more IDBS products, such as ActivityBase XE and E-WorkBook.