This technology might seem a bit “out there” for L’Oreal. But it turns out that L’Oreal has actually been printing human skin since the 1980s — as Bloomberg reports, the company has three labs in France that grow 54 square feet of human skin a year. (Some the brand uses, while some is sold to pharmaceutical companies.)

Bioprinting— a version of 3D printing — is still developing in its early stages, but currently L’Oreal’s process is as follows: plastic surgery patients in France donate tissues in which the skin cells are grown from, then these cells are put in an environment that mimics the human body and are fed a special diet.

Partnering with Organovo — who specialize in tissues of other human organs, including liver and kidneys — will create human skin faster. “Our partnership will not only bring about new advances in vitro methods for evaluating product safety and performance, but the potential for where this new field of technology and research can take us is boundless,” said Guive Balooch, Global Vice President of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator.

Although printing human skin for cosmetic purposes may not seem like such a huge deal — especially for those of us who are against animal testing — it’s somewhat controversial. The debate surrounding 3D printing human organs is extremely heated, and could possibly be banned by the government one day.

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