Behind the Scenes at L'Oreal's Research & Development Center

When my college roommate, Melanie, would tell me about her microbiology experiments dealing with Botchalism I used to make fun of her as I sat at my desk and wrote trend pieces for my journalism classes.  Today, if I could switch jobs with anyone I know it would be her as she's now the brains behind many of the products that I test and write about daily.  I really got to see what she does yesterday when I visited the L'Oreal Research and Innovations Center in Clark, NJ on an editor trip.  Exploring the labs where many L'Oreal and L'Oreal owned brands products are developed, I got to play Mel for the day!

This trip was the first time L'Oreal ever opened it's doors to outsiders and I was beyond excited to be there.  After six years of writing beauty, I've never gotten a sneak peak into the research and development before.  With 400 employees, this is their number one research center outside of France.  Besides L'Oreal the brand, Matrix, Maybelline, Skinceuticals and many other brands are formulated there and in just one year, they launch about 2,500 new products.  Yes ladies, this is where the magic happens.

Labs are broken down into cosmetic, skincare, hair color, styling and fragrance specialties and the evaluation processes were strict.  While skincare is a passion of mine, I was really impressed by what I saw and learned in cosmetics.

Blackout shades are on the windows for lighting control and specialized lights hang above makeup chairs that switch from day to night and even florescent lighting so the cosmetologists can evaluate shades under all circumstances.  What really blew me away though was learning that there are about 17 ingredients into Maybelline's latest mascara, Illegal Length Fiber Extension Mascara.  A soft wax is used for volumizing, harder wax for curl, and these little 4mm fibers are spread through out the formula that adhere to the tips of your lashes for length. To reinvent black, the chemists used a combination of the standard colorant, iron oxide and mixed it with carbon black to make the lashes really pop.  After seeing the breakdown of ingredients and manufacturing of the formula, I knew this mascara was the real deal and when I tested it after I got home, I was right.

It's one thing to receive a product to test out and a press release about its ingredients, but to go behind the scenes into the lab and watch them in the making is magical.