How beauty tech innovations are enhancing the consumer experience

Cosmetic brands are redefining traditional practices using technology, making personalised beauty accessible and efficient

Shiseido’s Skin Visualiser, the brand’s first touchless, over-the-counter skin assessment device at their flagship store in Dubai Mall. Photo: Shiseido
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Beauty and fashion sectors are not immune to the advancements of technology that seem to be impacting just about every industry. That's where the phrase "beauty tech" comes into the picture. It's a way to succinctly describe the moment that state-of-the-art technologies intersect with the beauty and cosmetic industry to create innovative products that transform our self-care routines.

Think about those sci-fi movies where gadgets perform wonders, and then imagine those wonders on your vanity table or in your favourite beauty stores.

We're talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, computing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) all coming together to transform the cosmetic, skincare and hair care industries.

This fusion of beauty and technology has led to ground-breaking innovations that are revolutionising product development and marketing, while significantly enhancing the overall customer experience.

Here's a look at some of the many ways beauty technology is already making an impact.

Shiseido's skin diagnostics marvel

Stroll through Dubai Mall and you'll stumble upon Shiseido's new flagship store. What might catch your eye is a mirror – not just any mirror, but the Japanese cosmetic brand's first touchless, over-the-counter skin assessment device, the Skin Visualiser. Launched globally in 2021, the beauty tech has just made its way in-store in the UAE.

This gadget scans your face and measures your skin's "beauty circulation" beyond what can be done by merely looking or touching. Essentially, this means qualities associated with healthy skin, such as radiance, a smooth, bouncy texture and a clear complexion.

Because you don't need to remove make-up and the technology is adapted to read any skin type, anyone can pop into the store and get a more in-depth analysis of the current condition of their skin alongside personalised AI-recommended skincare products. A store consultant will then suggest tailored items to shoppers.

AI-trained technology behind the mirror will assess the reflection using a trained algorithm that analyses details such as texture, pigmentation, pore size, and moisture levels to give an overall reading.

"The advanced camera in Shiseido's Skin Visualiser enables us to analyse skin with a precision that would be impossible with the naked eye," said Romain Carrega, Shiseido's Europe, Middle East and Africa director.

The smart mirror market is booming, and projections indicate that by 2031 it will be worth $6.25 billion, a SkyQuest report showed. Yet smart mirrors are just one example of how technology is making significant strides in the beauty industry.

In early 2022, these advances made their way into consumers' consciousness with talk of beauty in the metaverse. Novelty factors came in the form of a Charlotte Tilbury avatar and a virtual reality Pillow Talk Party, but the tangible shift came in the use of AR and VR technology in beauty shoppers' purchase decisions. They prompted the rise of try-before-you-buy technology, which facilitates everything from shade matching to virtual makeovers, and now AI technology is taking that to the next level.

L'Oreal's tech-driven innovations

The L'Oreal groups dedicated beauty science and technology department is constantly working on new beauty tech solutions that go beyond lipstick and foundation shade matching. Using new technology and plenty of data, this division, working across its 36 global brands, aims to provide consumers with unique and personalised experiences.

Take Lancome, a beauty brand under the L'Oreal umbrella, offering skin diagnosis on its mobile site. When consumers use this service, they receive their results and product recommendations instantly via email.

The beauty giant also offers more solutions in the form of virtual makeovers. L'Oreal's Modiface, powered by AR and AI, lets you do just that, offering a seamless and interactive way to test products.

YSL Beauty has introduced the Rouge Sur Mesure, a smart beauty device that brings lipstick creation to your home. This lip printer, leveraging YSL's colour expertise and patented PERSO technology, mixes and matches more than 7,000 lip colours.

Insert three lipstick cartridges into the device, pair it with your smartphone, and voila – you can choose from preset shades or create your own. Each cartridge has an NFC tag, so the device knows what's inside and tracks how much is left.

Sephora embraces tech-led shopping

From virtual try-ons (VTO) to a tool that finds your foundation shade, Sephora has likewise adopted beauty tech, making app and online shopping feel more akin to an in-store consultation.

The company integrates AR and VR to allow customers to try on make-up and experiment with different looks virtually through its Virtual Artist feature.

Users also receive customised make-up tutorials, colour-match their make-up to their outfits, and instantly compare hundreds of colour swatches. The tutorials guide users in contouring, lip lining, and creating smoky eyes. You can also compare colour swatches from different brands on your virtual arms.

What's next for beauty tech?

We're just scratching the surface of what AI and technology can do for beauty.

According to Statista market insights, the sector generated $8.15 billion in revenue last year and is projected to reach $8.46 billion in 2024.

Rapid advancements might soon make personalised skincare routines, AR make-up tutorials that adjust to your face in real time, and smart mirrors on your vanity that provide real-time advice commonplace.

In short, the beauty industry is undergoing a high-tech makeover, and it's just getting started.

Updated: June 07, 2024, 1:24 PM