Behind all the shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments that line our pharmacy shelves are years of research and development that led to the sourcing of the best ingredients on the market and the creation of high-quality formulas. On a recent visit to the L’Oréal lab in Paris, we were given the unique opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes and learn about the tests our favourite products, like the new Bond Repair collection, undergo before arriving in our hands—and on our strands.

Our first stop was the formulation-sciences laboratory. In this vast and immaculate space, work tables are lined up like a much more pristine version of a high-school chemistry class. This is where all the French brand’s formulas are thought out and designed. For a single final product, researchers might create more than 200 samples and test upwards of 30 active ingredients. Between the initial idea and the eventual launch, there can be up to 10 years of back-and-forth development.

Next up was the test laboratory, where five machines with very distinct uses carry out precise experiments on hair samples to measure and compare the effects of several external factors, including heat, humidity, hydration and hair brushing; this helps researchers determine the effectiveness of a product. They even have an instrument that mimics a hairbrush; it will perform more than 130 brush strokes on a hair sample to calculate the damage caused over time by this daily gesture.



We then made our way to the “hair salon,” where new formulas that are currently in the works are applied to volunteer heads for comparison. We even had the chance to touch, brush and analyze participants’ hair after the Bond Repair collection was applied to see their impacts for ourselves.

On the tech side of things, L’Oréal uses microscopes and 4-D-visualization devices to better understand the structure of the hair fibre, from scalp to tip. Using magnifying glasses, we were able to compare healthy hair to hair that has suffered from the stresses of everyday life, like UV rays, friction, brushing and styling.

At the end of the tour, and after having witnessed all the steps hair products undergo from the conceptual to the concrete—we were sure about one thing: We’ll never look at hair products the same way again.