Research and Development

Henkel Beauty Care Research & Development is a global team of first class scientists identifying and using new technologies and methods to deliver outstanding products to our customers and consumers. As well as our researchers we have experts in toxicology, consumer evaluation, analytical, regulatory, and many other fields. In addition, our quality management team makes sure that each and every product fully meets or exceeds our quality standards.

The diverse team is located in Düsseldorf and Hamburg (Germany), Scottsdale (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Shanghai (China) and Johannesburg (South Africa) so we can address the different consumer needs around the world and deliver innovative cosmetic products to diverse markets.

Biological and Clinical Research

Scientists at Henkel Beauty Care - such as physicians, biologists, and engineers - work together with researchers at universities and other research institutes. Joint research projects and feasibility studies are conducted and new and novel methods are developed in order to produce innovative products.

  • Artificial 3D Tissue Models in the laboratory

  • All around skin, hair and mouth

  • Clinical Studies

Alternative methods are the key for our product innovation

Henkel has successfully engaged in work on alternative methods since the mid 80s; these cell-based methods are used to investigate the influence of ingredients and products on biological systems.

Tests based on cells of human origin are used to investigate the influence of raw materials and products on cell growth and other properties. State of the art techniques in molecular biology offer various analytical tools for the experts to screen for changes in cell behavior and to characterize effects in detail, resulting in an in-depth knowledge of the product’s effect. Whereas in the past simple cell culture techniques were used, Henkel experts have succeeded in developing complex three dimensional tissue models over the last thirty years. These new tools facilitate research much closer to the conditions of use.

In order to construct tissue models representing the human skin, appropriate cells are multiplied and subsequently transferred to specially designed culture devices. Scientists have decoded those signalling pathways which enable the cells to interact with each other and subsequently build up a functional skin equivalent. After some days in culture the skin tissue is ready to be used in the laboratory for research and development purposes. Two types of skin models are used: a full-thickness skin model and a pure epidermal tissue.

These and other tissue models are used to prove the skin and eye compatibility of cosmetic ingredients. Furthermore, skin equivalents are being investigated to see if they can be used to analyse potential genotoxic effects of chemicals. Another important research area for these models is skin sensitisation.

The Phenion® Full-Thickness Skin Model is exclusively produced at the Henkel laboratories and consists of both an epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, and the underlying dermis made of human primary cells. It is commercially available. Please contact us to obtain further information:


We understand the effect of our products in detail

The following examples confirm that biological knowledge and the availability of tissue models are of essential importance for the development of cosmetic products. These models mimic human tissues in many aspects and allow us to characterize and explore innovative active ingredients for our products.

Our skin – two square meters, protecting us against the environment

The skin, the protective covering of our body, is an interface as well as a barrier to the outside world. Our largest organ measures approximately two square metres and makes up about 16 percent of body weight. This complex masterpiece of nature not only protects us against UV radiation, heat, water, and heat loss but also prevents the penetration of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

Our skin can be roughly divided into three layers:

  1. The epidermis, the uppermost skin layer, continuously renews itself: it takes about 2 weeks for the deeper lying cells to migrate to the surface and form skin scales which are then shed over time.
  2. The dermis, which is located below the epidermis, contains collagen and elastin fibres which are responsible for the skin’s elasticity and firmness. This is the place where wrinkles originate.
  3. The hypodermis is the lowermost skin layer and is composed of loose connective tissue and is mainly used as fat storage.

Like all living organisms, the skin is subject to ageing and it’s performance decreases with time. We support the skin in its various functions with innovative cosmetic products and effectively counteract ageing processes with novel combinations of bioactives.

Our detailed understanding of the skin combined with our deep knowledge regarding tissue models allows us to develop highly effective skin care products. In this way we respond to the skin’s specific needs and can provide our consumers with cosmetic products whose effectiveness is proven in clinical trials.

The hair – a very special fibre

On average our scalp has about 100,000 hairs. With a thickness of 50-100 microns, hairs can grow up to one meter long. The visible part of the hair, the hair fibre, is not living tissue and the water content is approximately 10% which is significantly lower than that of the skin.
The living hair roots are anchored deeply in the skin of the scalp and form complex "mini-organs" that are composed of different cell types to produce the visible hair fibres.
By studying the biological processes in the roots we are able to develop specific hair care products which not only nourish the hair fibre but also support the living part of the hair - the hair root - in its distinctive functions. The use of a recently developed reconstructed tissue model of the hair root offers us the chance to evaluate the optimal combinations of bioactives.

The mouth – the site of the smile

The oral cavity is another part of the human body cared for with our Beauty Care products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Bacteria find optimal living conditions in the mouth. Immediately, in the first few minutes after brushing the teeth, bacteria re-colonize especially along the gum line where they form a biofilm (plaque). If this is not controlled by adequate oral hygiene it can cause unpleasant problems for teeth and gums, which can also affect the entire body. Therefore good dental care is essential. In addition to conventional cleaning performance other positive effects, such as the strengthening of the gums, are important for consumers.

Our Beauty Care products are developed to the highest quality

Before being introduced to consumers, product performance and compatibility of our products are evaluated in comprehensive clinical studies.Our studies are based on internationally recognized standards as well as on the assessment by our study participants. Participants in a study are chosen for their skin type, hair type, consumer habits etc. For further characterization of our study participants a dermatologist will question them about their medical history.

Our clinical studies are conducted in specially equipped laboratories in order to prove, for example, the skin compatibility of a newly developed product. Generally recognized methods are used for testing skin compatibility, such as epicutaneous tests, but a wide range of use tests are also used.

The latest devices are available so that biophysical measurements can be carried out on the skin to detect the positive effects of products on hydration, sebum content and the barrier function of the skin.

Furthermore, contact-free imaging methods are used to prove changes regarding skin roughness or anti-wrinkle effects. Special devices are applied for the measurement of skin elasticity in order to show the skin tightening effects of our skin care products. Using a special microscope we are able to look deep into the skin of our study participants; this harmless procedure enables us to measure product effects on the thickness of the epidermis and on the junction between the epidermis and the dermis.

The visible effects of a product on the skin are quantified using highly standardized macro photography combined with image analysis or expert judgment.

Our global network of external scientists ensures that the latest technologies are available to evaluate the performance of our products and enables us to help shape technological developments at an early stage.

Hair Biophysics & Color Screening

What is the science behind our product claims? The properties that our consumers expect from our products such as shine, color retention, volume, ease of combing and many more can be scientifically proven using objective tests on human hair strands in combination with assessments in the test salon.

Biophysics of hair

The efficacy of our hair cosmetic products can be verified on real hair by means of a multitude of biophysical test methods and can be substantiated statistically. Standard measurements such as hair gloss, volume and ease of combing can be made as well as analysis of the inner strength and thickness of the hair and numerous other characteristics.
Environmental influences and styling procedures like repeated combing, blow-drying or straightening can be scrutinized to specifically develop products that prevent hair damage such as split ends or hair breakage.


Our tests with real hair strands give us information on the lastingness of hair colorations. Measurements following the use of advanced weathering equipment can be used to examine the resistance to fading due to light, washing and rubbing of our hair colorations. The effect of care and styling products on colored hair is also investigated, working closely with the scientists in our product development areas.


A problem with longer hair: Split ends

A problem with longer hair: Split ends

Laser measurement of hair thickness

Laser measurement of hair thickness

Measurement of gloss with colored hair strands

Measurement of gloss with colored hair strands

Measurement of gloss with colored hair strands

Measurement of gloss with colored hair strands

UV/VIS Irradiation of Hair Samples

UV/VIS Irradiation of Hair Samples

Lab Measurement of Hair Color

Lab Measurement of Hair Color

Hair Strands Prepared for Combing Force Measurements

Hair Strands Prepared for Combing Force Measurements

Test Salon

Our test salons in Hamburg and Düsseldorf (Germany) form an essential part of our product development for new hair cosmetic products.

The test salon is equipped in a similar way to a modern hairdressing salon. A team of top colorists and stylists consisting of hairdressers and master hairdressers test all types of hair cosmetic products developed by Henkel Beauty Care. The products tested are destined to be introduced worldwide into the local markets. They are used in professional hairdressing salons or by consumers themselves at home.

Prior to testing, a briefing is given to the test salon from the Marketing and Research & Development departments. Close cooperation with both departments is paramount.

An order for a trial in the Test Salon usually involves testing the properties of a new product such as color, care, shine, volume or hold. The trial involves the hairdressers performing a so-called "half side application test" following a standard test design. During this type of test a product which is currently on the market is applied to the right side of the scalp and a new optimized version of the product is applied to the left side of the scalp. This procedure allows a direct comparison of the two formulas as well as a clear choice of a test winner. Prior to use in the test salon all products have been tested in the laboratory and have been dermatologically certified. The models leave the test salon with perfectly styled and / or perfectly colored hair.

Some of our products are not designed for use in hairdresser salons but instead are for consumers to use themselves at home. A “self-use” test is performed for these products. The numerous mirrors in the test studio enable the self-user to view themselves from every angle and they also provide the test studio team with more insight into the application techniques used. The most interesting thing about a self-use test is that the volunteers choose a follow-up appointment themselves according to when they would use the product again if they were at home. In this way we are able to imitate the true reality of the market.

Each product is subjected to the “hurdle" of the test salon before entering the market. The test salon self-use test process provides an insight into how consumers will use the product, so any problems can be detected and eliminated beforehand. A typical example is the instructions for use; because our volunteers use the products themselves in the test salon as well as at home we can ensure that the instructions are clear and easy to understand.

A test salon approval is only given when the product, packaging and instructions for use have all been fully evaluated and conform to our high standards.