Beauty companies want to bring high-tech solutions to your face.
Companies such as Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal and Neutrogena have descended on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off beauty gadgets, apps and the future of their stores.
Considering the beauty industry is more guided by trends than any other fast-moving consumer goods sector, according to Nielsen data, it’s no surprise brands are increasingly turning to tech to stay competitive. The global cosmetics market is expected to reach $863 billion by 2023, up from $532 billion in 2017.
Procter & Gamble is announcing a new feature in its existing online Olay Skin Advisor tool that tells users how old their skin looks. Called Olay Future You Simulation, it uses an algorithm to show users what their skin and face will look like in the future under different scenarios, such as not wearing sunscreen regularly.
Olay’s new Smart Wand provides targeted electromagnetic treatment and works with an accompanying app. It promises to “personalize and optimize” skin care products to a user’s specific issues. The app syncs with the wand to push a product into the skin and target certain problems.
The company said it believes consumers are looking for “deeply personalized experiences and products.”
Opté, from P&G’s startup incubator, also debuted a wand. It can scan a user’s skin and place mineral pigments directly on dark spots. It has a tiny built-in scanner, camera and micro printer. Opté is still in the testing phase and hasn’t announced a price or shipping date.
L’Oréal is putting resources behind personalization, too. It unveiled a wearable adhesive skin sensor that tracks skin pH in real-time.
Some research suggests a link between pH and inflammation, so the device intends to provide a way for people with conditions like eczema, dryness and acne to test and monitor them. The process of measuring skin pH typically requires costly equipment and a large amount of sweat. The makers of this new device claim to be able to give an accurate pH reading within 15 minutes by using the sensor’s micro-channels to capture trace amounts of sweat.
The device, My Skin Track pH, will become available at dermatologist offices some time this year. Eventually the product may be sold directly to consumers. It was co-developed with L’Oreal’s skincare brand La Roche-Posay.
Meanwhile, Neutrogena has a new product called MaskiD, an app that people can use to analyze their faces. The app measures the size of a user’s face and then creates a custom mask to fit, along with targeted treatments. Each mask has a unique shape and color patterns for different skin needs.
The concept builds on Neutrogena’s skin scanner from last year that attached to a smartphone and analyzed a user’s skin to determine if they needed to use more moisturizer. (Of course, it suggested Neutrogena products to help).
But beauty tech isn’t just in gadget form at CES. Procter & Gamble’s Japanese cosmetics brand SK-II is showing off a model of its Future X Smart Store, which launched in May 2018 in Tokyo and later in Shanghai and Singapore. The store features technology such as facial recognition, computer vision and AI. Shoppers can do things like get their skin analyzed and view their results on an interactive skin care wall.
Last year, Henkel – which owns salon brand Schwarzkopf Professional – generated significant buzz at CES for its futuristic salon experience that let users virtually preview hair colors and receive a personalized assessment of their hair’s health via a gadget outfitted with infrared and light sensors.
But whether or not these high-tech, personalized options are gimmicks or actually helpful is up for debate.
“People want products that are going to work for them,” said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at research firm Forrester. “I don’t think that they care whether or not it’s personalized.”
Consumers’ wish lists includes beauty products that don’t irritate the skin, that make them look and feel better, and that solve flaws in their skin, according to Kodali, who added that personalization is a possible way to achieve those goals. But for now, she says companies are just testing things out.
“All kinds of established beauty companies have made forays into various technology investments,” Kodali said. “For now, they are experiments. That’s just all they are. Nothing is a prevailing means of buying or selling.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story mislabeled the app MaskID as a device.