Cosmetics, hair care, and skin care products must provide consumers with a high level of added value while keeping up with constantly changing trends and needs. As such, these products require advanced and fast research and development.
KEYENCE's latest 4K digital microscope provides clear, high-definition images, which can be used to easily and quickly observe, measure, and evaluate skin and hair. The result is shorter R&D and improvement cycles. These shorter cycles help make it possible to supply products having high added value in a timely manner.

Observation, Measurement, and Evaluation of Skin and Hair

Trends in the Cosmetics Industry and Direction of R&D

The beauty and cosmetics industries previously targeted mainly women. In response to changes from one era to another and the fluctuating needs corresponding to the market, competition has always been ruthless between companies in these industries to see who can provide their customers with products that meet the latest trends and needs the fastest.
Recent years have seen increased subdivision of the targets of these industries, with one such example being the expansion and diversification of needs for cosmetics aimed at men. Hence, the research and development of products that meet market trends have been carried out with fast cycles. Examples of such products include new additive-free and organic lotions, creams, and shampoos.

Speed of rapidly spreading trends

In recent years, there has been a major change in the marketing field. Social networking services, which enable the immediate sharing of the latest information as videos, images, and text, have increased the speed of the cycles of trends related to beauty.
The effect of video reviews, how-to-videos, and sharing from influencers and brand ambassadors has caused products and trends to spread faster than ever. The result of this shift in marketing is that there have been cases where new or small-scale manufacturers, brands, and products have suddenly leaped out in front of the competition from major companies.

Requirements for safety and transparency

There are increasing needs for products that do not include toxic substances and harmful components. Hence, there has been an increased movement toward the requirement for transparency regarding factors such as cleanliness, product manufacturing, and product components. For example, the Personal Care Product Safety Act, a piece of federal legislation formed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States that strengthens the regulation and supervision of cosmetics and personal care products, has risen to prominence. At the same time, companies in the industry have been deeply considering not just increased transparency in ingredients, but also the ability to recycle product packaging.

Requirements in intense competition

In recent years, it has become necessary to respond to advanced market requirements, such as the intensification of competition due to the speed of changes in trends and needs for increased quality and safety. As such, all companies—regardless of their scale—are pursuing accuracy and speed in research and development with a focus that has not been seen before.
Furthermore, frank opinions regarding the quality and usability of a product can be shared on e-commerce websites via reviews by people who have purchased the product, so if negative opinions of a product spread, the outcome is determined by how fast the product can be improved.

Latest Observation, Measurement, and Evaluation Information

A new era is dawning in the cosmetics and personal care industry. The accuracy and speed of observation and evaluation are not only part of research and development, they are also one way to differentiate a company from its rivals on the sales floor. The microscope is one of the most important tools, and recent years have seen a trend toward the installation of microscopes that use cutting-edge technology to meet the needs of the current era.
KEYENCE's VHX Series high-definition 4K Digital Microscope uses a specially designed high-resolution HR lens, 4K CMOS, and lighting to observe and evaluate skin and hair in a clear and fast manner, which was not possible with conventional microscopes.

Observation of skin texture (uneven surface)

Skin texture is evaluated according to the depth and detail of the surface of the skin. Smoother skin creates a lower contrast surface, which is more difficult to observe and image.

Observation of skin texture (uneven surface) using the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope
Top: conventional, bottom: multi-lighting image
Top: conventional, bottom: multi-lighting image
Multi-lighting image of skin texture (skin replica)
Multi-lighting image of skin texture (skin replica)

With conventional microscopes, the texture of the target changes depending on the lighting and observation angle. Also, the application of foundation and lotion makes observation difficult due to significant glare and low contrast, making inspection of grooves and wrinkles very difficult, and in some cases even impossible.

With the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope, omnidirectional lighting data is automatically captured with the push of a button.
After capturing the data, the user can immediately see what the surface looks like under various lighting conditions, and only needs to select the optimal image for their report.

Handheld observation of skin texture (uneven surface)

It is not possible to perform actual magnified observation of skin directly with general microscopes. It has become common to observe skin using a handheld microscope to immediately see the change in texture before and after applying cosmetics.

Handheld observation of skin using the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope
Top: conventional, bottom: multi-lighting image
Multi-lighting image of skin texture (skin replica)

With a 4K digital microscope, handheld observation allows for low magnification and high magnification analysis of the skin.

With conventional microscopes, it is necessary to use a skin replica for observation, and it isn't possible to clearly view both smooth and textured skin surfaces.

With KEYENCE's latest 4K digital microscope, the handheld lens with a deep depth of field makes it possible to observe both smooth and textured skin surfaces, yielding faster and more accurate evaluation.

3D shape measurement and evaluation of skin texture

Generally, beautiful skin has a smooth surface, with only shallow pits on the surface. Skin can be evaluated by measuring the 3D height changes on the surface, typically a smaller height deviation corresponds to healthier skin.

3D profile of skin surface
3D profile of skin surface

With conventional microscopes, the uneven surface of magnified skin was observed and evaluated visually. Accurate data such as numeric values of height and depth could not be obtained, so there were variations in the evaluation of skin texture from one observer to another. Hence, it was not possible to quantify the evaluations.

With the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope, the 3D data of the target is obtained at the same time that imaging is performed, so the uneven surface can be measured. The measured values can be used to enable quantitative evaluation, improving the accuracy and speed of product research, development, and improvement.

Observation of emulsions

Emulsions are frequently used as the base material of cosmetics and have high energy states, so various adjustments are required to stabilise emulsions. Minor differences in the mixing method and composition yields major changes in the state and stability of the emulsion. In R&D, it is very important to accurately observe the dispersion status of particles in O/W and W/O emsulsions.

Emulsion observation with the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope
Emulsion observation (1000x)
Emulsion observation (1000x)
Emulsion observation with different lighting conditions
Emulsion observation with different lighting conditions

With conventional microscopes, it was difficult to extract the focusing and lighting conditions for the sample prepared on a glass slide, so emulsion observation took a long time.

With the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope, the lens is automatically focused with the single click of a button, and the lighting settings can be quickly adjusted (or recalled from a previous image), greatly shortening the observation time.

Particle size distribution of emulsions

When working with emulsions, it is important to evaluate both the size and distribution of the particles as this has a large effect on the texture of the emulsion.
With KEYENCE's latest 4K digital microscope, high-definition imaging and image processing technology enable automatic analysis and quantitative evaluation of the particle size distribution, which is not possible with conventional microscopes.

Quantitative evaluation of an emulsion using the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope
Captured image
Captured image
Image analysis (particle size distribution measurement)
Image analysis (particle size distribution measurement)

With the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope, the auto area calculation function can be used to automatically identify and count the number of particles and their sizes.
Area measurements, maximum and minimum diameters, and histograms showing the size distribution can be automatically calculated with just a few clicks. Additional image processing can be performed to exclude particles of a certain size, or to separate overlapping particles into their own distinct particles for analysis. Even new users can quickly obtain highly accurate results.

Observation and evaluation of hair cuticles

Cuticle peeling is often used for evaluating hair quality and the understanding the effects of hair care products. Conventionally, scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) have been used. However, since hair is an insulator it can easily become electrostatically charged and become difficult to observe and image.

Cuticle observation with Optical Shadow Effect Mode
Cuticle observation with Optical Shadow Effect Mode
Cuticle observation with 4K high-definition images
Normal hair (1000x)
Normal hair (1000x)
Damaged hair (1000x)
Damaged hair (1000x)

With the VHX Series 4K Digital Microscope, Optical Shadow Effect Mode uses the contrast from lighting the sample from multiple directions to highlight minute changes on the surface of the sample. Colour information can be overlaid on this Optical Shadow Effect Mode image, making it possible to visualise the uneven surface information and the true-colour image at the same time. A topographical colour map can also be overlaid on the image to further highlight the surface changes.
The features described above make it possible to easily observe and evaluate cuticles even without using an SEM, optical microscope, or similar device.

The Latest Tools for Increasing the Speed of R&D

As explained above, the VHX Series high-definition 4K Digital Microscope makes it possible to easily view locations that could not be observed well with conventional microscopes.
The VHX Series can greatly reduce the time spent on research and development of cosmetics and can increase both the accuracy and speed of the quality improvement cycle and R&D.

The VHX Series is also equipped with other functions that are useful in observation and evaluation, making it a powerful partner in overcoming the constantly changing trends and intense competition in the industry. For additional product info or inquiries, click the buttons below.