Striving to measure skin health

Feb 18, 2019, 12:00am

L'Oréal unveils prototype wearable skin pH measuring device.

A wearable sensor that tracks skin pH: It’s what’s new in wearable technology from the L'Oréal Technology Incubator, according to a L'Oréal January 6, 2019, news release.

Still a prototype, My Skin Track pH will be introduced this year through select La Roche-Posay U.S. dermatologists. La Roche-Posay is L'Oréal’s skincare brand.

The company plans to conduct a series of clinical studies in partnership with Northwestern University looking at the link between pH and the appearance of skin conditions. Ultimately, L'Oréal intends to launch the wearable technology as a direct-to-consumer product.

The aim is to empower consumers with meaningful information about their skin, so that they can find the right products for their individual skincare needs, Guive Balooch, global vice president of the L'Oréal Technology Incubator, said in the release.

“Healthy skin pH exists within the slightly acidic range between 4.5 and 5.5. When pH balance is compromised, whether through environmental factors and underlying conditions, it can trigger inflammatory responses. Such responses can cause or exacerbate common skin concerns including dryness, eczema, and atopic dermatitis,” according to the press release.

My Skin Track pH is a small, thin, flexible sensor that can measure the wearer’s skin pH level using microfluidic technology.

“… it captures trace amounts of sweat from skin pores through a network of micro-channels, providing an accurate pH reading within 15 minutes,” according to L'Oréal.

Achieving an accurate reading requires wearers go through two steps:

  • The wearer puts the sensor on his or her inner arm for five to 15 minutes, or until the two center dots become a color.

  • The wearer then photographs the sensor using the My Skin Track pH app.

The app’s algorithm reads the pH level and the wearer’s perspiration rate in the area of the sensor to make La Roche-Posay product recommendations that might better care for skin and balance pH.

Miami, Fla.-based dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., who does not have ties to L'Oréal’s technology, says studies have shown that skin pH can affect the skin barrier, microbiome, desquamation and enzyme function. Levels of pH are altered, according to Dr. Baumann, in skin aging, acne and eczema.

“But [pH] is only a small part of the big picture of skin health. It does not tell you about inflammatory pathways, pigmentation pathways, skin aging pathways, cytokines, growth factors, keratinocyte function, fibroblast function, collagen elastin, hyaluronic acid and heparan sulfate content or wound-healing ability,” she says. “In fact, some would argue that pH is one of the least important measurements [of skin health]. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) for example is a much better indicator of barrier function.”

Disclosures:

Dr. Baumann developed the Skin Type Solutions Regimen Management Software available on STSfranchise.com, which about 120 dermatology and other practices in the U.S. use. The software diagnoses the Baumann Skin Type and generates a regimen that the physician can customize. Dr. Baumann also is on the Burt’s Bees advisory board.