Beauty brands are using everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR) to keep their customers engaged in a fiercely competitive market. But do such innovations actually work or are they simply marketing hype?
When L’Oreal said last year it no longer wanted to be the number one beauty firm in the world, but “the number one beauty tech company”, it was clear things in the industry had changed.
“Women have had the same beauty concerns for 30 to 40 years, but technology has created a more demanding consumer,” explains Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator.
“They want more personalised and precise products, and we have to respond.”
So what are the main tech trends?
1. Personalisation and AI
According to Mr Balooch: “50% of women complain that they can’t find the right shade of foundation for their face, and women with darker skin tones have been crying out for more choice.”
But putting thousands of shades on shop shelves would be “impractical”, he says.
Instead, L’Oreal subsidiary Lancome has come up with a custom-made foundation machine called Le Teint Particulier, which promises to find the “exact match” for your skin using AI.
Available at Selfridges and Harrods in the UK, Lancome’s consultants first work out your facial skin tone using a handheld colorimeter – a type of digital scanner.
The results are then run through a computer, which uses a proprietary algorithm to choose from 20,000 different shades.
Finally, the computer’s findings are sent to a machine that mixes the foundation for you, there and then in the shop.