L'Oreal opens S'pore lab to study Asian skin

SINGAPORE - French cosmetics giant L'Oreal Group has opened a research laboratory in Singapore to study Asian skin.

It wants to bank skin samples from Asian donors for research and will study their skin physiology as well as new ways to tackle ageing and pigmentation.

The lab is part of the company's plan to make its research more international and its scientists will collaborate with Singapore research groups.

These include the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore.

The lab's director, Mr Charbel Bouez, said Singapore is a good fit for the firm because of its vibrant scientific community and ethnically diverse population.

"These complement L'Oreal's interest in understanding human skin diversity and in developing new products for our Asian customers' needs," he added.

The lab will get $3 million a year from its parent company and employ 17 scientists by June next year.

It currently has 10 scientists, six of whom are Singaporeans, and is housed at A*Star's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in Buona Vista.

L'Oreal had previously worked with the institute to find out how to reconstruct Asian skin from cultured cells.

IMB executive director Birgitte Lane said the local research community can also benefit from the new lab.

"It will allow us to tap each other's strengths to better understand Asian skin, which will bring about many applications, from personal care to health-care solutions," she said.

Market researcher Euromonitor said the Asian-Pacific beauty and personal care industry was worth US$114.3 billion (S$139 billion) last year, up from US$73 billion in 2008.

The Asian industry is expected to be worth US$140 billion by 2016.


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.