Delphine Allard - It is part of the global network of L’Oréal innovation centres across the world, which comprises five other hubs in Japan, China, India, the United States, and South Africa. They all work hand in hand with our research centres in France.
Last year, we inaugurated a new generation building on the Bom Jesus island close to Rio, but the R&I activity already existed in Brazil since 2009, on four different sites. The new site helped us gather all our teams and gain efficiency.
Premium Beauty News - What is this investment aimed to?
Delphine Allard - Brazil is the world’s 4th beauty market, so it has a strategic importance. But if the L’Oréal group chose to invest that much, it is also due to the diversity you can find there. Brazil is the only country where you can easily find the eight hair types in our classification, from the straightest to the curliest. In addition, out of the 66 skin tones in the classification system set up by L’Oréal, 55 can be found in Brazil. It is a very important source of inspiration for us. Meeting the needs of this great diversity is almost like meeting the needs of the whole world’s diversity.
Also, beauty is important for Brazilian women. They are among the most demanding and expert women in the world. It was crucial for us to get as close as possible to this strategic source of inspiration, in order to understand their routines and meet their needs. In this centre, we have the installations and equipment to welcome and understand them.
Premium Beauty News - Does L’Oréal Brasil Research have any specificities?
Delphine Allard - The main mission of our R&I centre is to develop products based on local consumers’ needs, but with a global potential. Due to climate conditions, aggressive treatments, and specific hair types, Brazilian women use five hair care products a day on average as part of their routines, compared to three on average for American or European women. Therefore, hair care is definitely the top priority category on which we have been focusing the most.
Last year, we launched our first leave-on treatment adapted to Brazilian women’s damaged hair: Elsève Cicatri Renov. Then, this product conquered the American market, and more recently Europe, where it is available under the name Cica Crème. It is a perfect example of an innovation developed in Brazil, but with a global potential.
Premium Beauty News - Have you been working on other categories?
Delphine Allard - Our second flagship category is sun care, in particular face sunscreens. The high UV indices and the humid climate in Brazil lead us to meet very specific needs, i.e. a very high, long-lasting protection and a mattifying skin feel, the ‘toque seco’ effect for oily skins.
Our laboratory was able to meet these needs, in particular by drawing inspiration from a technology initially intended for skincare and developed by the international L’Oréal Research network. This AIRlicium technology is endowed with an extremely strong humidity and sebum absorption power. Based on this innovation, we launched a specific range, Anthelios AIRlicium by La Roche-Posay, with a very high protection up to an SPF70. Women here can use a sun protection factor of 70 on a daily basis: so it sets even higher standards in terms of product sensoriality and long wear.
Initially launched with white and tinted versions, the Anthelios AIRlicium range got wider this year, with three new shades to meet the diversity of skin colours in the whole country. Today, this range helps us remain leaders in the category of tinted sun care, which shows a high growth rate and represents 45% of the sun care market.
Due to its specificities, this product is only dedicated to the Brazilian market for now, but we have been evaluating its potential and working on a better-adapted version on the global level.
Premium Beauty News - To what extent is this L’Oréal Brasil R&I centre a model of the genre within the L’Oréal network?
Delphine Allard - Our installations are definitely up-to-date, with a unique Flex laboratory within the L’Oréal Group. It is not segmented according to categories, but to activities (weighing, control, manufacturing…). Beyond the advantage of improving flows and capitalizing on the equipment, it helps us favour cross fertilization between the various categories. A technician can be developing a hair treatment formula next to someone working on sun care and exchange about textures, protocols… It generates ideas and it is a more efficient collaborative and creative workspace. That is why we are unique and are becoming a model for other centres.
Also, we have an exemplary assessment area, with all the installations needed to work, again, as close as possible to consumers, whether it be for the design, with co-creations, or for product assessment, from the prototype phase to the final validation.
This co-creation concept is very interesting: for example, last year, we were able to launch a special range for curly hair designed with Brazilian consumers for local brand Niely. These women were consulted right from the beginning of the project until the final name choice.
Premium Beauty News - Is the outstanding potential of Brazilian diversity an additional form of inspiration for L’Oréal Research?
Delphine Allard - Apart from product development, we have an Advanced Research team whose main role is to discover, work, and put forward the ingredients derived from the Brazilian biodiversity on the global level. In Brazil, we are lucky enough to have access to inspiring ingredients with unique performances.
To this aim, we work with local suppliers or directly in partnership with local communities as part of our Sharing Beauty With All programme. It has already resulted in a number of projects on ingredients identified as inspiring and highly efficient, like kamu kamu for Vichy, murumuru, cupuaçu, and pracaxi.
Premium Beauty News - Do Brazilian women prefer cosmetics containing Brazilian ingredients?
Delphine Allard - What matters to them are natural ingredients in general. The naturalness trend is important to many of them. However, they never compromise on performance for the sake of naturalness.