What Is ‘Beauty Tech’ and How Is It Altering the Cosmetics Industry?

What Is ‘Beauty Tech’ and How Is It Altering the Cosmetics Industry?

At CES 2020, L’Oréal pulled the covers off of Perso, a wise skin care device that utilizes expert system, place information and a user’s preferences to create tailored moisturizer. The gadget is set to go on sale some time in 2021, and when it does, it needs to also have the ability to develop tailored foundation and lipstick.

” We are committed to making L’Oréal the leader in charm tech– and Perso is the next step in that interesting journey,” said Nicolas Hieronimus, the company’s deputy CEO, in a declaration.


L’Oréal is far from the only company that approves charm tech. Beauty tech dates back to the days of boxed computer programs (Cosmopolitan publication put its name on “virtual remodeling software” all the way back in 1998), it’s only just recently that big brand names have actually started to invest heavily in the area. The rise in interest has actually been driven in big part by advances in smart device innovation and the growing danger of independent, digitally native appeal brands, which have grown market shares by leveraging social networks, influencer marketing and environmentally friendly practices.

For established brand names, beauty tech represents a chance to get in touch with customers in a new method– one driven by IoT and AI instead of YouTube and Instagram influencers. Augmented reality appeal apps let users attempt every kind of lipstick a company makes in minutes without ever getting in a shop, while smart gadgets like Perso enable brands to offer tailored experiences at scale.

L’Oréal, Shiseido and Estée Lauder are 3 of the world’s greatest cosmetics business, and they’re likewise some of the most active huge brands in charm tech. To get a much better understanding of how technology is altering the cosmetics market, we’re focusing on these three companies and the progress they’re aiming to push.

Image through Patrick Tourneboeuf

The Next Generation Of Beauty Tech Startups

Station F ended up being the world’s biggest startup campus when it opened in2017 The Paris-based facility, built inside a former railway depot and inhabiting a massive 366,000 square feet, is home to more than 1,000 early-stage startups and corporate accelerators, including L’Oréal’s. L’Oréal’s beauty tech accelerator runs for six months, during which time start-ups are given office at Station F, intros to financiers and access to the company’s circulation channels.

” The Kardashians have actually altered the marketplace,” stated Maxime Garcia-Janin, creator of customized fragrance start-up Sillages Paris and an alumni of L’Oréal’s accelerator program, in an interview with Sorted. “The appeal market is changing really quickly because of digital– it is changing all the rules. L’Oréal is dealing with start-ups like us to understand digital modifications.”

In addition to working with startups, the French charm brand name is getting them outright. In 2018, L’Oréal bought ModiFace, a Toronto-based tech business that concentrated on enhanced reality charm apps whose customers consisted of competitors like Shiseido, Estée Lauder and LVMH, the moms and dad company of Sephora. Along with dealing a blow to its competition, ModiFace’s AI-powered skin diagnostic and facial analysis technology now underpins the Perso app.

” Our ultimate objective is to produce items that customers do not see as technology, however as something core to their lives.”


Perso was developed inside of L’Oréal’s technology incubator, which introduced in 2012 and is staffed by physicists, engineers, UX professionals, hardware designers and information scientists. Prior to Perso, the team established products like a wearable UV tracker, an AR mirror app and a clever hairbrush, integrated in collaboration with French consumer electronics business Withings.

” Our ultimate objective is to produce products that customers do not see as innovation, however as something core to their every day lives,” said Guive Balooch, head of L’Oréal’s tech incubator, in an interview with Authority Magazine.

Shiseido s wise skincare gadget, Optune. Image by means of Shiseido.

developing a personal connection with clever devices

Shiseido sat out CES 2020, but that’s not due to the fact that it didn’t have any new tech to showcase. Shiseido launched its own wise skin care device, Optune, a full 6 months before CES which shares numerous similarities with Perso.

Both use artificial intelligence to analyze pictures of a user’s face to identify skin conditions and set that details with location-based weather condition and air contamination information to develop a customized moisturizer. Optune can likewise factor in sleep information and information on a user’s tension levels and menstrual cycles into its formula. Optune is powered by technology from 2 tech companies gotten in 2017, MATCHCo and Giaran, and is readily available on a subscription basis for about 10,000 yen ($92) a month.

” There is still no [cosmetics] company that has been able to integrate personalization into their service models.”


Unlike L’Oréal, Shiseido didn’t state its objective to become a leader in beauty tech upon introducing Optune. Rather, it’s focusing on how technology can develop the brand name as a leader in personalization.

” There is still no [cosmetics] company that has actually had the ability to integrate customization into their company designs,” said Shiseido president Masahiko Uotani in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review. “If we lead in this field, we could beat global competitors that are bigger than us.”

Products like Optune are designed and fine-tuned at Shiseido’s global development center, S/Park, located in Yokohama, Japan. For apparent reasons, numerous corporate development labs operate in secrecy and aren’t open to the public. Shiseido has actually taken the opposite technique, giving the public access to the very first two floors of the complex. In addition to a museum, coffee shop and physical fitness studio, S/Park also offers visitors the capability to chat with scientists and experience the brand name’s newest technology firsthand.

The S/Park Entrance Lobby. Picture through Shiseido.


Although Shiseido hasn’t gotten a tech company since 2017, it is still active in the start-up area. Its venture fund, Shiseido Endeavor Partners, has actually made 4 financial investments in two business since its structure in 2016, according to information from Crunchbase Shiseido Venture Partners is likewise a limited partner in the Dreamers Fund, which was established by Japanese soccer star Keisuke Honda and star Will Smith. Similar to Optune, the business’s endeavor fund is focused on the impact technology can have on the end user.

” We’re really particular about which startups we wish to buy,” said Marc Rey, Shiseido’s primary growth officer, in a Q&A with Forbes. “The important things we’re most interested in is USP [unique selling proposition] and vision; they’re at least as essential as the technology. It’s about what the technology can bring as a genuine modification to the customer.”

a makeup counter powered by social media

Chinese social networks platform WeChat is a reasonably unknown product in the United States. User stats are difficult to come by, however in July 2018 the platform supposedly had 2.47 million month-to-month active users in the United States. 5 months later, WeChat revealed that it balanced 1 billion everyday active users worldwide. Despite not being big in America, WeChat has actually captured the attention of New York-based charm brand Estée Lauder.

” WeChat is the significant platform for us to drive online to offline.”


At the business’s MAC Shanghai store, consumers book appointments, receive real-time recommendations from influencers and can spend for their purchases utilizing WeChat. The shop likewise provides virtual screening and permits customers to develop custom-made products, 3D printed in-store.

” The brand name engagement is through the platform [WeChat],” stated Tricia Nichols, Estée Lauder’s former SVP of consumer marketing, in a 2017 interview with Jing Daily, which covers high-end consumer brand names in China. “It assists convert individuals into customers. WeChat is the significant platform for us to drive online to offline.”

Collaborations have been a large part of Estée Lauder’s early charm tech method. The business formerly partnered with Perfect Corporation, makers of the increased reality YouCam Makeup app, to launch virtual lipstick testing along with AR training programs for its in-store beauty advisors.

Although Estée Lauder has yet to launch a wise device, its tech department, which was formerly spread across eight various workplaces in New York, was just recently restructured. Now there are 2 offices, one on Long Island and the other in neighboring Queens. The Queens’ workplace plays house to Estée Lauder’s first innovation lab and also hosts a yearly hackathon, a 24- hour competition where students and experts develop innovation designed to help improve the company’s sustainability and business citizenship efforts.

Where big brand names find their next huge thing31 Business Innovation Labs to Know


In an interview with CNBC, Michael Smith, Estée Lauder’s CIO, said the hackathon offers a chance for the business both to engage with the wider tech community and to augment its own innovation efforts.

” It’s important to comprehend there are times when change requires external support,” Smith informed CNBC. “The concepts that are developed during the hackathon are used to even more our strategic vision within IT and bring in fresh, originalities for our team.”

Unlike some established companies in other markets, L’Oréal, Shiseido and Estée Lauder do not appear to harbor aspirations of becoming full-blown tech business. For these 3, and the appeal market in general, innovation functions as a means to an end, whether that’s to get in touch with consumers in brand-new methods or provide more customized items. However the pursuit of these objectives is driving the appeal tech market forward at a rate that could soon make digital-first makeup departments, AR charm apps and clever skin care devices market standards.

The Stakes Have Never Ever Been Higher

A renewed commitment to tech and development is moving the world’s biggest companies to new heights.

Find Out More