At the dawn of every new year, the annual Consumer Electronics Show always seems to bring us exciting, new beauty tech. In recent years, L’Oréal’s Tech Incubator hasn’t been one to disappoint: In 2018, L’Oréal-owned skin-care brand La Roche-Posay debuted a UV-tracking wearable, which went on to launch as a clip-on in partnership with Apple. And this year — you guessed it — La Roche-Posay is bringing us more innovative technology: A wearable sensor that tracks skin pH levels.
What is the My Skin Track pH device?
The My Skin Track pH is a small, flexible patch-like sensor that picks up trace amounts of sweat from your pores and promises an accurate skin pH reading in just 15 minutes. As of now, the device is just a prototype, but it almost certainly represents the future of skin care, and here’s why. Chemistry class aside, scientific evidence and experts all agree that pH balance is crucial to skin health.
##Back up: What exactly is pH?
When your skin’s pH level is thrown out of whack, whether from using certain personal-care products or even just from age, it creates an unhealthy environment that fosters harmful bacteria. This triggers inflammation in the body, which, in turn, can lead to skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and even acne. Quick refresher: On the pH scale of 1 to 14, (7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline), the ideal pH level for skin is 5.5. “This pH is necessary for the proper functioning of skin cells and maintaining a healthy [skin] barrier against the environment,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner.
While some skin-care brands have jumped on the pH bandwagon by printing the pH level of a product on its packaging, until now, the only sound method of testing a product’s or your own skin’s pH levels was literally by using litmus paper. But, of course, who actually has time to test all of their products with a color-changing strip of paper? Not to mention that in order to test your own skin’s pH level using litmus paper, you need a considerable amount of collected sweat. This tiny tracker is designed to solve just this: It detects your skin’s pH using nearly no sweat at all.
“We know that consumers have been talking a lot about the pH of their products, academics have been talking a lot about pH being so important, but nobody was really able to measure it in a way that was consumer friendly,” explains Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator. “It can give people an understanding of where their pH is and relate that to things like dryness of skin, eczema, and atopic dermatitis, [which] can really unlock a new measurement for consumers about their skin health.”
How does the device work?
Here’s how it works: You place the sensor on your inner arm and leave it there for between five and 15 minutes, or until the two center dots change colors. Then you pull out your iPhone and open the My Skin Track pH app and snap a pic of your newly colored sensor. Using a fancy, super-scientific algorithm, the app reads the pH measurement and tells you the rate at which your skin sweats and assesses your overall skin health and gives you La Roche-Posay product recommendations to help balance you out. The sensor uses what Balooch calls micro-channels, which are a thin as a strand of hair, to measure micro-droplets of your sweat.
Cool — now where can I get the sensor?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get your hands on a tracker just yet. They will be rolled out this year through select La Roche-Posay dermatologists around the country in order to amass more research about skin pH. Eventually though, the goal is to launch them directly to consumers. Fortunately, if La Roche-Posay’s history of beauty tech innovations is anything to go off of, the brand will make good on its promise.
As mentioned, last November the brand launched its My Skin Track/UV Wearable in Apple stores nationwide, which harnessed the same UV-monitoring tech debuted back in 2016.
Article originally appeared on Allure.