These days, technology is about more than the latest social media app. It is the next phase of the $445 billion global beauty market, infiltrating everything from blue light masks and pore vacuums to AI experiences and customized algorithms. Just when you thought you nailed your facial cleansing routine, a new electronically charged appliance that promises to target skincare concerns such as aging, acne and hyperpigmentation comes out. Or just when you finally figured out your ideal foundation tone, now machine learning can figure it out for you, and offer a lip color to match. But technology is not just about selling products. “The purchase is not the end-game anymore,” L’Oréal’s Chief Retail Officer Marc-Alexandre Risch told WWD last year. “It’s about engagement with the brands, it’s about the lifetime value of your customers.”
Right now, more than 180,000 people are attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the main event? Beauty. If all the advances in beauty and wellness technology have you seeing double, check out our round-up to determine which feel right for you.
Remember how state-of-the art the Clarisonic seemed when it launched back in 2001? The fact that you could utilize a battery-charged bristle brush to get a deeper facial cleanse was mind-blowing. Fast-forward a decade or two and now you can perform an at-home facial thanks to the many massagers, steamers, blackhead extractors, at-home microdermabrasion kits and blue light acne masks on the market today. Do they work? It depends on what you are trying to fix. “For simple at-home solutions, like pore cleansing or exfoliation, some of these devices can work incredibly well,” says Claire Wolinsky, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist. “However, if you have severe acne issues or deeper fine lines, there’s only so much an at-home device can do before in-office professional treatment is required.”
Our favorite tech tools? We are currently loving the voice-enabled smart mirrors on the market that adjust lighting or embed cameras to view your skin in microscopic detail. We are also super excited about the Kerastase Hair Coach, the first-ever series of smart hairbrushes and styling tools that can detect damage and dryness from roots to ends. This one was introduced last year at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and has only grown in popularity.
These days you are just one swipe away from a luxury facial, rock star blowout, or from a dermatologist who can prescribe the optimal cream for rosacea. Beauty brands and experts are now utilizing our cell phone addiction to do good in the world, or at least make us look great. Beautylish is an app that features the latest beauty trends and products as well as professional reviews, peer-to-peer tutorials and a custom purchasing system so you never have to leave the app to achieve the look of your dreams. Meanwhile, Indulge is a nail app that lets you scan and save any color to get its name and brand information. If you are the type to show off that fresh manicure, you can share your new look with anyone in your contacts and keep a record of what shades worked best. For those moments when you want your hair and makeup done at home, Glamsquad and Vensette each have their own apps for easy same-day booking and payment.
Merriam-Webster defines Artificial Intelligence as an area of computer science that explores how intelligent behavior is simulated in computers. It also covers how a machine imitates intelligent human behavior. So, what does that mean in the context of beauty? Various brands are now relying on such “intelligent behavior” to create actionable solutions for consumers. My Beauty Matches provides personalized recommendations that help consumers find products for their skin types or haircare colors. Using machine learning is a win/win all around as it drives higher conversion rates online and helps retail partners understand their customers. Beauty.ai determines how we define the most beautiful people in the world. It analyzes fine lines, facial structure, skin tone and age to determine global winners. L’Oreal-owned ModiFace uses chatbot technology like Facebook Messenger, which allows users to upload selfies directly into the chat to try on products virtually.
But, before you go swapping out your brunette mane for platinum, know that getting your dream look is not always seamless in real life. “Often these apps create a digitized experience and tonally it can appear perfect on the screen, but in reality, the science of color doesn’t always work that way,” says Elisabeth Lovell, founder of Brooklyn’s Whiteroom Salon. “In reality, switching out your hair color can be an 8 to 12-hour project, which an app may not always recognize. Also, the picture may not account for hair damage done in the process.”
Whether via 3D glasses in-store or on a smartphone at home, consumers are increasingly calling upon augmented reality (AR) to experiment in the beauty or fitness space. In a new study conducted by virtual beauty app Perfect365 and Poshly, 78 percent of millennial customers were found to purchase cosmetics if they could preview them in advance. Similarly, a recent Intage study, commissioned by Perfect Corp., found that users of its YouCam Makeup app (which uses 3D face scanning to apply the product to lips, eyes, brows, and cheeks) are 1.6 times more likely to purchase cosmetic products and 2.7 times more likely to spend money on beauty products than non-users. The numbers do not lie, consumers want to preview products virtually before deciding whether to purchase a new highlighter or blush palette. Coty, Inc. just recently that it has developed for its Wella Professionals salons an augmented reality mirror allowing customers to try on a range of hair colors. Meanwhile, Sally Hansen’s ManiMatch applies similar technology to fingernails, where the app scans your hand and then lets you choose from any number of Sally Hansen nail products to virtually try on. In the fitness industry, everyone is speaking about Mirror. It is a connected fitness system that streams live and on-demand classes to users in-home via a sleek responsive display. During class, the instructor will provide real-time comments and even personal shout-outs to keep you motivated. You can sync a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (complimentary with purchase) or Apple Watch to enable competition mode.
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