What will hair care look like in 2050? Pretty damn cool, based on a recent trip I took to the L’Oréal Paris Global Hair Research Centre in Saint-Ouen, just outside of Paris. It’s ground zero for innovation at the beauty behemoth, and I was among the first journalists to access this hub of infinite hair wisdom.

I chatted with consumer-insights specialist Julia Sarhy and international innovation director Stephan Glasser, both of whom research changes in things like demographics and climate to determine what we might need from hair products in the future; for example, worldwide water shortages would create the need for quick-rinsing shampoos and conditioners. (Get rid of the need to rinse entirely with L’Oréal Paris Magic Shampoo ($10), a water-free dry-shampoo formula, available now.)

The most mind-blowing tidbit I acquired: L’Oréal is aiming to 4-D-print hair follicles with biotech company Poietis. Unlike 3-D printing, where you build an inanimate object, the goal of 4-D printing, also called bioprinting, is to print cells so that you end up with functional tissue—in this case, a working hair follicle. When it happens, it will be a boon for research, says prolific hair biologist Bruno A. Bernard, Ph.D. I’m more interested in the practical outcomes. “Imagine being able to bioprint your own hair, doubling or tripling the density,” suggests Sarhy. We’re still far away from making this happen—but if there’s ever a waiting list for a trial, sign me up. 

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.