In a highly digitalized world where technology plays an increasingly important role in all of our lives, it should come as no surprise that beauty and tech advancements have also merged, leading to the emergence of the beauty tech trend.
Although the concept is not exactly new — its origins can be traced back to the late ‘90s when the first photoshopping software became popular — it has only picked up steam in recent years. The new impetus in the field has come from consumers’ changing demands and also from innovations in Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.
Adding technology, in itself, is never good or bad. Technology is a tool, and how we use it is up to us. We’ve seen that technology and appearance can take a toll on users’ mental health, but at the same time, beauty routines can improve self-confidence and mental health — and it’s plausible that new virtual solutions can also help. So ultimately, it’s hard to predict the impact that the marriage between the beauty industry and technology will have, but one thing seems clear: it will be impactful.
For beauty brands, the integration of tech applications provides new venues to connect with their audiences, provide better-performing products and services, attract new customers and obviously increase their bottom line. For consumers, this represents an opportunity to experiment and find products that suit their personal needs and preferences, maybe even experience beauty in a whole new way.
The beauty industry is also an extremely competitive and forward-thinking sector, which is why brands are always on the lookout for the next big innovation, and lately, there have been plenty of innovations making their way into the beauty realm. So it’s likely that innovations are a-coming sooner rather than later, and we’re already starting to see some of that.
Personalizing the customer experience with AI
Personalization plays a huge role in enhancing customer experience these days. People have grown tired of going through the never-ending trial and error process to find the beauty products that would suit them best. They want to enjoy an effortless shopping experience and stress less about choosing the right products, and the introduction of AI technology into the equation seems to provide the perfect solution for their woes.
Beauty brands can leverage AI technology to facilitate personalization and offer customers the products and the level of service they’re looking for. But how does that work exactly? Companies optimize the data collected through various channels to understand the needs and preferences of their customers better and train AI algorithms to predict what type of beauty products would work best.
The information is then segmented in order to create tailored messaging and personalized interactions and recommendations for each customer based on their physical attributes.
In practice, this translates into skin assessment tools that offer tailored products or routines, algorithms that create custom-made foundation shades that perfectly match the customers’ complexion or applications that give personalized recommendations based on questionnaires. Big name brands like Vichy, Lancôme, or L’Oreal are just a few of the companies that have been fast to leverage this type of technology for personalization purposes.
Cutting-edge virtual try-on powered by AR and VR
Technology has made shopping easier and smarter, giving customers the possibility to purchase the products they need from the comfort of their own homes. But the online shopping trend, although extremely convenient, came with a major shortcoming for beauty shoppers: it didn’t give customers the ability to test products before purchase. If someone wanted to try a specific lipstick shade or test different types of magnetic eyelashes, they had to go to a brick-and-mortar store.
But not anymore. Now, you can “try on” different shades and types of products without even needing to leave your home.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have changed the rules of the game, blurring the lines between the virtual and in-store shopping experience. These days, most brands give clients the chance to virtually explore their ranges and experiment with products through AR and VR-powered applications. Customers can now try thousands of lipstick shades, hair colors, nail polishes, or eye makeup products with just a few taps on their smartphones. The magic happens when AR algorithms and real-time facial tracking change the values and layer visuals over real images to alter the appearance. These apps are not just extremely useful but also incredibly entertaining, helping beauty companies increase their conversion rates.
Smart beauty gadgets
Another important category in the beauty tech realm is represented by smart beauty gadgets. Although they are less popular than AI and AR applications, mostly due to their hefty price tags, companies seem more and more inclined to invest in them.
Many of these gadgets target the skincare field, offering personalised product formulations that address specific skin concerns. Some measure different parameters such as air pollution, sleep patterns, stress levels, or menstrual cycles to create tailored products. L’oreal, P&G and Neutrogena have already launched such devices on the market and they seem to enjoy quite a lot of success. The overall goal of these products is to provide solutions that can help customers improve the quality of their skin and hair and achieve better results over time.
Still early days
From a technical perspective, beauty tech is enabled by a combination of hardware and software — but it all depends on whether enough consumers will adopt such technologies or whether they will remain little more than novelty gimmicks.
While some companies invest in leading-edge devices that serve specific purposes, such as offering product recommendations based on skin analysis, the most used piece of hardware is something that most people already own — the omnipresent smartphone. These unassuming devices give people easy access to the joys and wonders of technology, including AI and AR-based beauty applications. So, one of the greatest things about beauty tech, apart from the already mentioned advantages, is that it ensures accessibility and inclusivity, giving everyone the chance to experience beauty on their own terms.
If until recently tech-based beauty solutions were regarded as nothing more than a marketing stunt, the latest innovations have made it clear there’s huge potential coming from this segment and the industry is ready to dive deeper into it. Also, the technologies that are currently used in beauty tech are still in their infancy, which means we’ve only just begun scratching the surface and we’ll probably see many other interesting developments in this area in the near future.