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Beauty brands are using everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR) to keep their customers engaged in a fiercely competitive marketplace. But do their innovations really work or are they just exaggerated advertising?
When L’Oreal said in 2018 that it no longer wanted to be the number one beauty firm in the world, but “the number one beauty technology company,” it was clear that 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 personalized and accurate products, and we have to respond,” he says.
According to Balooch, “50% of women complain that they don’t find the right base tone for their face, and women with darker skin tones have been crying out for more options.
But putting thousands of shades on store shelves would be “impractical,” she says.
Lancôme’s Le Teint Particulier scanner can offer up to 20,000 different base tones.
Instead, Lancôme, a subsidiary of L’Oreal, has created a custom base machine called Le Teint Particulier, which promises to find the “exact” color for your skin, using AI.
Lancôme consultants first determine the tone of your facial skin with a hand colorimeter, which is a sort of scanner.
The information goes to a computer that uses an algorithm to choose from 20,000 different tones.
Finally, the results from the computer are sent to a machine that mixes the base for the customer in the same store.
According to market research firm Mintel, the demand for personalized cosmetics is growing rapidly.
Nearly half of consumers like the idea that a beauty product is customized especially for them, and one-third believe that such products give better results.
Priced at $108 for a 30-ml bottle, however, Le Teint Particulier is not cheap, and some have warned that the high price of custom cosmetics prevents them from being inclusive.
“It’s a message that, to benefit you, you also have to be rich, which is counterintuitive,” says Cherlynn Low, review editor of the Endgadget technology website.
As online shopping increases, beauty brands increasingly use augmented reality (AR) to enhance the experience.
Improvements in image recognition and facial tracking technology are making these digital overlays more accurate.
Try on applications allow you to experiment with new looks.
Sephora’s Visual Artist application allows customers to test virtually thousands of lipstick and eye shadow tones through their smartphones or at store stalls.
The program measures where your lips and eyes are in real time and then knows where to place the cosmetics.
Sephora says more than 200 million tones have been tested through Virtual Artist since its launch in 2016.
Other brands, such as Garnier and German DM, have also launched applications for digitally testing cosmetics.
But some critics warn that applications are no substitute for real testing.
Would you trust a computer to evaluate your skin? That’s precisely what HiMirror, a “smart mirror” made by New Kinpo Group, Taiwan, does.
The program takes a picture of your face every time you log in and scans it for wrinkles, red spots, pores, expression lines and brightness levels.
Then rate these factors from “good” to “poor” and send you personalized advice and product recommendations.
Olay offers a similar application called Skin Advisor, and a new one, FutureYou Simulation, which uses augmented reality to show users what their skin and face will look like in the future.
Some skin care experts warn that, by not giving context to their skin scores, such products could unnecessarily damage people’s self-esteem if the results are negative.
Endgadget’s Low says programs can be “fooled by poor lighting or leftover makeup stains.
“Scores aren’t always accurate. Do we really need an intelligent mirror to tell us if our skin is shiny or oily?
Will we ever be made up by robots? A number of devices launched in recent years suggest that we will.
Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) Opté wand, for example, is a makeup printer presented at the 2019 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the world’s largest technology fairs, in Las Vegas.
The device scans the skin and accurately applies small amounts of makeup to hide age spots and other imperfections.
Its small built-in camera takes 200 frames per second, then a microprocessor analyzes the data to differentiate between light and dark areas, and a microprinter applies the base to your skin.
P&G expects to launch the product in 2020.
Meanwhile, design agency Seymour Powell presented a printer idea that would allow makeup styles seen on the internet to be downloaded and printed directly on people’s faces.
Combining 3D printing, facial recognition technology and image analysis through artificial intelligence, the Élever would allow brands and influencers to sell makeup styles directly to consumers.
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