Technology

Beauty Sans the Beast

Lab-grown skin saves bunnies from cosmetics testing.

By Anne CasselmanNov 7, 2007 12:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

In cosmetic labs, rabbits donning mascara and lipstick are on the way out, while patches of lab-grown skin are in. L’Oréal has developed an uncanny human skin substitute called Episkin that is animal friendly and can determine whether an ingredient will turn toxic in the sun or corrode, penetrate, or irritate human skin.

To make Episkin, a layer of fish collagen is seeded with human skin cells discarded from plastic surgeries. “One hundred cells are able to multiply, and you can get 20 million cells within a week,” says Patricia Pineau, research communications director at L’Oréal. After seven days, voilà! You have a patch of skin that can tan and age under UV light. Last year, Episkin was used to test some 3,000 products.

Episkin is in part a response to the European Union Cosmetics Directive, which calls for a ban on all animal testing by 2013. The skin substitute is also being used to make customized grafts for burn victims and for children who can’t handle exposure to UV light without risking cancer.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.