How tech development is paving the way for beauty innovation

Tech is changing how consumers shop and experience beauty – and this is only set to continue.

We’re seeing this trend play out from multiple angles: tech development has created a need for tech-protection skincare, it has infiltrated consumer expectations around gadgets and treatments, and it is filling out blind spots the industry has been accused of having when it comes to inclusivity.

Beauty innovation has benefitted from technology developing alongside it, and the result is that advanced and high-spec products are increasingly the norm.

Technology is revolutionising and adding value to the beauty industry for the benefit its consumers.

Let’s take a look at how.

Tech is changing the skincare we need

The ways we interact with technology have created a beauty need, or at least opened a gap in the market. Like sun damage, we can get ‘tech’ damage too.

HEV blue light is emitted from both the sun and our technological devices, but a study by Unilever found that two in three people are not aware of this fact.

They published that 60% of people are now spending more than six hours a day in front of a digital device. They say the impact of this can be the same as spending 25 minutes in midday sun without any SPF protection.

HEV penetrates more deeply into the skin than UVA and UVB and although it doesn’t increase the risks of skin cancer, it will accelerate the ageing process by contributing to fine lines, wrinkles, dullness and hyperpigmentation, creating another beauty concern.

A study published by Professor Mark Birch-Machin of Newcastle University Faculty of Medical Sciences in 2020 came to the same conclusion.

Protection against UV rays was once enough, but now Sharon Golby of Higher Nature – the brand behind new skincare range Digital Defence that is clinically proven to block 100% of HEV blue light – says that’s no longer the case.

Sharon says: ‘When an emerging concern becomes a fact, it pushes an industry to find a solution. HEV blue light is an emerging skin concern, with reliable studies only recently being published.

‘With an ever-increasing technological presence in our daily lives, from larger TVs, increase in pixilation, and more powerful light sources, this particular concern has been exacerbated over the past year from our continued and excessive use of technology.

‘Sitting between traditional skincare and sun protection, blue light protection addresses a skin concern that we cannot hide from.’

Last year The Body Shop relaunched their bestselling Skin Defence SPF 50 cream to include blue light protection too, so it’s likely that more mainstream brands will also pick up the memo.

Tech innovation elsewhere in our lives has created, somewhat ironically, a need for a fix within beauty development.

We’re demanding smarter gadgets

Tools on the market used to beautify are often a nod to expensive in-salon treatments – and they’re becoming more advanced.

Laura Ferguson, co-founder of The Light Salon, a brand with award-winning LED powered gadgets, believes: ‘Technology has always played an integral role in the beauty industry.

‘Tech has the potential to enhance and personalise the outcome and experience of skincare, make up and beauty.’

She says long before lockdown, consumers were demanding gadgets ‘engineered for convenient use at home’ that are accessible and flexible. Over time, they’re a more economical option versus ongoing salon appointments.

The Light Salon’s hero product, the Boost LED Mask uses two wavelengths of light: 633nm red light and 830nm near-infrared light.

Benefits include stimulating collagen production and photobiomodulation (which improves hydration and firmness), as well as improving the effectiveness of other modalities of skincare used. The claims for an at-home device are impressive.

Laura says: ‘LED light is delivered into the skin and used to re-charge the cells ‘energy’ battery. Think of it as just the same as photosynthesis.

‘A cell that has been charged by light is able to perform 150-200% more efficiently, and enabling our cells to work more youthfully.’

While LED technology has been around for a long time, it’s only in recent years that it’s hit mainstream beauty with many big names like Victoria Beckham claiming to swear by it on Instagram.

Previously, to access these kinds of skincare treatments, people would need to book in with a clinic. Gadgets have empowered the beauty consumer to become their own administer, which hasn’t always been successful with micro-needling tools being a particularly controversial.

Science-backed technological devices, like LED masks, are safe (though you should protect your eyes) and are usually pain-free.

Seemingly advanced skincare rituals are now forming part of the new beauty normal, all thanks to tech.

AI can make beauty more inclusive

Technology has also been bettering the beauty industry from the perspective of inclusivity.

Shoppers for some time have been able to use AI technology to virtually try on makeup products from the comfort of their home, but the pandemic has seen brands make this feature more sophisticated. MAC Cosmetics, for example, now lets you try on several of their cult products virtually.

Going several steps further, L’Oréal has unveiled their Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Sur Mesure Powered by Perso, which launches in the spring. It’s an AI-powered device using their patented Perso technology that allows the user to come up with just about any lipstick shade they desire – over 5,000 perceivable shades to be exact.

In 2022 they plan to expand the Perso line with a hybrid foundation and skincare maker, again tailored to each individual user.

Guive Balooch, L’Oréal’s global head of innovation and creator of Perso, says: ‘I think that technology will allow us to have a data driven and smart relationship between consumers and companies, where they can get beauty products that are adjusted for them and made for them particularly.’

He doesn’t believe tech is the only thing that can solve issues of personalisation and inclusivity, but tech has a wide scope of opportunity for catering to all ethnicities.

‘You’ll never have enough shades as you have skin tones. I think the only way you can address that is through technology. You can’t put billions of shades on the counter, you just can’t.’

When creating the Perso technology, Guive realised people ‘have lots of options today – they can go to Sephora, or to one of our counters and see hundreds of colors.

‘But they want to know which color matches their outfits and complexion, they want to be able to find trends.’

If you’re someone that religiously sticks to the same red lipstick each day, the Perso won’t offer much to your personal needs, but for the beauty consumer that loves day-to-day change and exploration of trends, AI tools can actually be more sustainable in the long-run.

Rather than own 35 lipsticks that will expire unfinished, one device can provide that and more.

He ultimately believes AI has the potential to instigate ‘magical things’ and the power to ‘bring a new level of beauty results for people’.

As people continually seek to use beauty as a platform for individual expression and for case-by-case needs, AI – and tech in general – will continue to interlink with industry development.

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