Insights / Beauty & Science
”We’ve only discovered 5% of the ocean and it represents 70% of our planet”
On how technology transforms the beauty industry
23 Aug 2022

Who are you?

— I’m Johanna Caron and I’m working for the Scientific Communication at Biotherm, helping the team to choose the best ingredients and formulas, and share the latest scientific discoveries in terms of skin knowledge, biotech, and ingredients.

And when you communicate with your team members, what are your focus areas right now?

— Obviously, a very important part is efficiency and sustainability. This is also why biotech is so interesting, a technology that is so sustainable and has such a low impact on nature. The water is always important to us as a brand and biotechnology is also a great opportunity to work with skincare ingredients that come from water, such as plankton or microalgae. We of course don’t want to impoverish mature and take the species away from there. Instead, we work with institutes, like CNRS, which studies all the species in the water, including planktonic species and microalgae, and also has a library of these species. They help us understand how you can multiply them in a lab by using biotech or any other sustainable technology. Now, one of the biggest focuses that we have on our ingredients is how to produce them even more sustainably. We are already convinced of, and have proof of, their efficiency — now we need to find more sustainable version, says Caron.

— A few years ago, she continues, it all started with more natural products and everybody wanted that. But if you work with a lot of plant extracts, you actually need to grow the plant, which requires water and uses a lot of resources. This is why biotechnology is so interesting —it’s very low in energy and you can also be sure of the quality that you get. For example, for LifePlankton (Biotherm’s key ingredient, Ed’s note), we master the technology since 1994 and it has since been fully optimised. We know the exact temperature, what we should nourish the plankton with, and so forth, to have an exponential multiplication of the bacteria with the lowest amount of energy injected in the process. If we would use more of, say, plant extracts, and if your business grows, you need to have more of it, which makes everything much more complicated.


How do you see the future of all this?

— There’s one part that is with ingredients coming from the waters. We’ve only discovered 5% of the ocean and it represents 70% of our planet, so there’s so much more to discover. Especially the species we called extremophiles, living in very deep waters with high pressure and no light. They live under extreme conditions and, usually — because they are able to survive there — they produce very interesting molecules for medicine or skincare. So, this is one thing where there will definitely be a lot going on. 

— Then, there are of course also tech and devices, where we’re also partnering with other companies and specialists to get their knowledge. One of them, Cydolia, provides very specific devices, which are not that much used in cosmetics. They take around 4,000 pictures and let a computer analyze the skin on a micron-scale, giving us the opportunity to see different results of our products. 

— We also work with a ”Skin cam”, since there is also this quest of having new tech devices that are portable and easy to use. We are working with consumers all around the world and all of our consumers are not always near a testing institute (when they are part of a clinical study, Ed’s note), so you need to have technologies that you can send to them and teach them how to use before they can experience it by themselves and do the acquisition. The skin cam is super tiny and stays in your hands, but it can provide very precise measures. It also really helps us in our clinical studies. In addition to our dermatologists, who usually measure on day 0 and after one month but if you want to see results in between, it’s very complicated — you can’t ask the dermatologist to check every day. But with such devices, we can have much more information along the study.

Is the skin cam for end-consumers?

— No. I think it needs a bit more finetuning if you want to bring it to the end consumer. It might be, somewhere in the future, but right now we are using it in our clinical studies.

So, what you mean is that the test persons who you use in your studies, not all of them live nearby a scientific centre?

— Yes, exactly, so instead, we can send the skin cam to them and even if they live very far away from a testing institute, they will be able to give us a lot of data. And we also used it during Covid where everyone was locked at home. Our colleague then explained that we had a new device which we needed to test further to make sure that it was as robust as we believes it was. It was actually thanks to Covid that we could prove that the results were good enough to use as a clinical testing tool.

Johanna Caron.