A prototype device that measures pH levels from sweat on the skin has been recognised with a CES 2019 Innovation Award in the Wearable Technology Products category.
Co-developed with L’Oréal’s skincare brand La Roche-Posay, the so-called My Skin Track pH device is said to be the first wearable and companion app to measure personal skin pH levels and then create customised recommendations to better care for skin in a global skincare market estimated by Statista to be worth around $180bn by 2024.
“The scientific and medical communities have long known the link between skin pH levels and common skin concerns that millions of people experience every day,” said Guive Balooch, global vice president of the L’Oréal Technology Incubator, a division of L’Oréal Research and Innovation. “At L’Oréal, we know that health is the future of beauty and we are committed to leveraging technology to bring powerful insights and solutions to our consumers.”
Healthy skin pH exists within the slightly acidic range between 4.5 and 5.5. When pH balance is compromised it can trigger inflammatory responses that can cause or exacerbate common skin conditions including dryness, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
In use, My Skin Track pH measures individual skin pH levels by capturing trace amounts of sweat from skin pores through a network of micro-channels, providing a pH reading within 15 minutes. While previous methods of measuring skin pH levels required rigid electronics or large sweat samples, My Skin Track pH captures, and generates readings from miniscule quantities of sweat.
The device provides a pH reading in two steps. First, the wearer places the sensor on their arm, leaving it in place for 5-15 minutes until two centre dots assume a colour. In the second stage, the wearer opens the My Skin Track pH app and photographs the sensor. The app reads the pH measurement, as well as the wearer’s local sweat loss – the rate of perspiration on the skin’s surface – to assess skin health and make customised product recommendations.
“pH is a leading indicator of skin health,” said Prof Thomas Luger, head of the Department of Dermatology, University of Münster, Germany. “Until now it has been very challenging to measure skin pH outside of a clinical setting. This tool has the potential to inspire consumers to adopt healthier skincare habits and empower medical professionals with an entirely new way to recommend skincare regimens.”
My Skin Track pH was created by L’Oréal in partnership with US company Epicore Biosystems, which develops microfluidic platforms and soft wearable sensors.