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Why Beauty is Looking to Tech

This article first appeared on Business of Fashion with contributions from The Red Tree.

Over the last few years, big beauty corporations have been acquiring tech startups and are also leaning heavily into AI and AR-backed projects like try-on makeup apps

At-home beauty devices are key to that strategy, and they go beyond the requisite hair drying and facial brush electronic. They often have “smart” elements and come with apps that use AI; they are also modelled after devices used by aestheticians and dermatologists. Beauty products that moonlight as high-tech items can be easy to sell because many in-office, dermatological procedures are done with complicated tools, which may lend credibility to at-home versions. The market is not yet crowded: 35 percent of women don’t own a beauty device but are interested in trying one, according to Mintel, a research firm. “Technology has been a key aspect to beauty, whether it’s LED lights, or laser treatments, and now brands are figuring out how to make it available for everyday customers,” Fiona Glen, The Red Tree Head of Projects, explained.

The Cellreturn LED mask from celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia sells for $1,900 and is a best-seller on Net-a-Porter. Celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski and Jessica Alba rave about the TriAngle Facial Beauty Tool ($160) from skincare expert “Nurse Jamie” Sherrill and Sephora shoppers are obsessed with Dr Dennis Gross’s SpectraLite mask ($435).

GloPro, a DIY micro needling gadget, consistently sells out on HSN and the Trinity Facial toning gadget from NuFace has helped put the California-based beauty company on the map. The Foreo Luna face cleanser has a rabid following with beauty YouTubers and a recent TikTok video featuring the HiMirror Smart Mirror ($149) has almost 2 million views. Neutrogena will soon launch custom 3D-printed face masks through its MaskiD app and last year, La-Roche Posay launched My Skin Track pH, a wearable gadget that tracks users pH levels and offers skincare tips with its accompanying app.

“Technology has given us a better chance at solving some needs in beauty,” said Guive Balooch, the global director of the Connected Beauty Incubator at L’Oréal said. “AI and data are so powerful and precise now that we’re finally able to have the inclusivity that’s required in beauty for precise skincare shades for foundation.”

Devices can boost margins. The high purchase price also locks in customers, who will be less likely to hop to a rival’s $400 LED face mask than if they had bought a $10 disposable one. They can also be used to sell add-on products. The Neutrogena Skin360 skin scanner app recommends products customers can use to treat their skin.

Tech can also set brands apart, especially when the market is more crowded than ever before. 

The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.

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