Four tailor-made cosmetics manufacturing strategies: from artisanal point-of-sale manufacturing to automated small batch production

Published on 13 December 2017 Read 25 min

Paris, December 13th 2017 – Following the enthusiasm for tailor-made cosmetics and care, Alcimed, a consulting firm specialized in innovation and new market development, is taking a closer look at the strategies and technologies implemented by four French and Canadian cosmetic brands releasing their products in small series in order to meet the needs of a diverse community of consumers.


La Bouche Rouge: an innovative production process inspired by the pharmaceutical sector

At the end of October 2017, Nicolas Grelier, a former L’Oréal employee, launched the Bouche Rouge: a high-end rechargeable lipstick with a customizable color. The hue is reproduced from a photo sent by the customer using an artificial intelligence algorithm. The project, the first one related to cosmetics to be incubated at Station F, has been in the spotlight for a few weeks now because of its positioning that combines personalization, digitalization, and eco-responsibility. At the heart of the startup is an innovative industrial process inspired by pharmacies that enables the cost-effective production of micrograms of formulations in small series.

The process is patented and could be duplicated and subsequently used to manufacture skin care products, foundations, etc. The lipstick service will be operational in January 2018.


Liplab: Handcrafted production in store

Bite Beauty, a Canadian natural lipstick brand launched in 2012 in partnership with Sephora, opened four “LipLabs” in Toronto, San Jose, New York, and San Francisco. These laboratories offer consumers a unique experience: creating their lipstick from 200 shades, three finishes, and nine flavors. Production is traditional and not based on any particular technology.  The pigments are mixed in a container and after adjustments to achieve the desired shade, other ingredients are added. The formulation is then finally centrifuged and cast in a mold to form the final shape.


Lancôme: automated production of individualized products right under the customer’s eye

“Teint Particulier” is a foundation made to measure in the store that is adjusted to the client’s skin tone and their needs in terms of texture, coverage and hydration level.

To fulfill this promise, Lancôme, in collaboration with L’Oréal’s incubator located in Silicon Valley, developed a breakthrough technology protected by 9 patents. Firstly, the customer’s skin is scanned at three points to record the colorimetric data, which is then processed by an innovative algorithm to accurately calculate the quantities of pigments needed. A machine automatically produces the cosmetic right in front of the consumers’ eyes, with the functional ingredients, active ingredients, and pigments first dosed in accordance to the unique formulation created and then added directly into the bottle. Afterward, another device homogenizes the foundation. Initially introduced only in the United States, Lancôme’s special complexion has been available in Paris since October 2017.

Laboté: formulation of an in-store treatment by combining selected active ingredients

Laboté is a brand of fresh (preservative-free) and fully personalized care prepared in a shop-laboratory. After a skin diagnosis carried out using a questionnaire, the active ingredients are selected and formulated in a glass laboratory. A patent was filed in 2016 to protect Laboté’s master card: its innovative cold formulation process that allows the treatment to be prepared on demand in a few minutes.


“Lancôme, Laboté and la Bouche Rouge have proven the importance of innovating in manufacturing processes in order to optimize the profitability of small series production. By developing and patenting their technologies, the three brands have a real advantage and a head start over their competitors,” concludes Vincent Pessey, Alcimed’s Project Manager.


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