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  • Ameann DeJohn

Clinical Testing Techniques Haven't Kept Up With Skin Color Inclusion, Says Expert

Updated: Jan 15

Featured in Cosmetics Design

Skincare brands are increasingly interested in inlcuding all skin colors in their clinical testing, but testing methods don't yet account for differences in aging symptoms.

While skin care issues for those in their 20s and 30s are very similar across skin tones, largely acne and hydration, Ameann DeJohn, CEO and Founder of Media Lab Science, said symptoms of aging vary greatly across skin tones, which presents a problem in clinical testing.

Skin tones can be categorized in the Fitzpatrick scale, with one being the lightest skin and six being the darkest. According to research by the National Institutes of Health, those with lighter skin tones experience more wrinkling with age, while those with darker skin experience more depigmentation.

The problem in clinical testing comes when brands want to test products designed to treat aging symptoms in ligght skin tones on all Fitpatrick types.

Theoretically, testing an anti-wrinkle cream that is effective on Fitzpatrick one through three on all skin tones would make it appear to perform more poorly in clinical testing report because the darker skin toned participants had fewer wrinkles to treat.

"Somebody in their 40s does not have the same amount of wrinkles if they're a Fitzpatrick six as a Fitzpatrick one," DeJohn said. "That means brands have to rethink the way that they talk about inclusivity, and then eventually in clinical testing, we have to rethink how we're testing"

Despite the fact that cosmetics scientists are aware of the difference in needed treatments among skin tones, DeJohn said marketing professionals who generally request clinical tsting are more focused on the inclusion aspect.

As a solution, for the time being, Media Lab Science produces videos and photography for marketing purposes alongside clinical data. DeJohn said the multimedia aspect can help compensate for the numerical drop in efficacy because consumers will be able to see how the product works for people like themselves.

She also said Media Lab Science tries to be inclusive not only in skin tone but also in gender identity, including men and non-binary individuals.

"Brands have always traditionally produced numbers, but consumers are attracted to visuals," DeJohn said.

However, in the long term, DeJohn said solutions need to be engineered in testing. She does not believe there is an appropriate testing method now, but panel-focused testing is promising, in which products are tested and results are gievn separately for light and dark-skinned participants.

From the brand inclusivity side, she said it's important that cosmetics are developed to treat the anti-aging symptoms of darker skin toned consumers, as opposed to teting anti-aging products formulated for light skin toned consumers and advertising them as broadly efficacious.


About Media Lab Science


Inclusivity in the testing phase, especially within the beauty and cosmetics industry must be a priority. At Media Lab Science our models and participants have diverse skin tones to meeting the expectations of a multicultural consumer base and the focus of beauty brands.


Media Lab Science plays a significant role in facilitating consumer perception studies and product testing, particularly by focusing on inclusivity, representation, and authenticity. Offering services that not only involve diverse recruitment for testing but also emphasize the use of real testimonials and authentic representations in marketing content.


Differentiation at Media Lab Science, part of ALS Global

  1. Diversity in Testing: Emphasizing the importance of testing products on individuals from diverse ethnicities and skin tones to ensure they cater to a broader consumer base.

  2. Authentic Representation: Using real people in marketing content rather than just models, aiming for aspirational representation that consumers can relate to.

  3. Inclusive Recruitment: Being based in Los Angeles allows Media Lab Science to recruit individuals of various ethnicities, skin tones, and languages, catering to a more diverse demographic.

  4. User Generated Content: Assisting participants in articulating their experiences with products authentically while ensuring they comply with regulations.

  5. Consumer Perception Studies: Focusing on understanding how consumers perceive products and brands, which involves more than just numerical data but also visual content and real testimonials.

  6. Before and After Photos: Highlighting the changes in the skin with aspirational models.


Media Lab Science is the only clinical beauty testing lab in the world to offer inclusive consumer perception studies with marketing content creation. Media Lab Science provides authentic experiences from participants during the clinical testing process and can test supplements, hair products, skin products and cosmetics.

Based in Los Angeles, Media Lab Science is a one of a kind clinical testing lab at the forefront of executing comprehensive clinical trials, as well as before and after photography and consumer perception videos in order to help brands create rock solid claims that matter to today’s consumer. Our team of acclaimed industry leaders understands how to design a testing protocol that tackles the challenges of today’s online environment to deliver data brands can use immediately.

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