Photo : shutterstock.com © Abulash

Photo : shutterstock.com © Abulash

Alcimed’s first finding is that the word "e-beauty" covers a wide range of products with great differences from one another. There are for instance electronic tools to facilitate the application or the efficacy of products, as well as connected objects, beauty monitoring apps and communication and marketing tools developed by beauty brands.

To increase the product performance

Electronic devices designed to facilitate the application of skin care products, increase their efficiency, ensure more appropriate use, or extend the effects, have multiplied in recent years.

According to Alcimed, there are two main trends: on the one hand, the democratization of professional instruments, and on the other hand, the use of brushes allowing more efficient applications.

Thus, electronic devices inspired from those used in beauty salons or dermatology offices are becoming available to the greatest number. "This is especially true for devices using pulsed light or electricity to improve a specific aspect of the skin. Known and used by professionals for over twenty years, they are making their entry on the consumer market," said the consulting firm, mentioning the use of red light for anti-ageing purposes ("Luxury" by Tanda) or of blue light for acne-fighting procedures ("Clear Rayz for Acne" by Quasar), as well as small electrical impulsions to increase product penetration and stimulate cell regeneration ("Trinity Facial Toning" by Nuface) or even laser hair removal ("Laser 4X" by Tria.)

The use of brushes to apply skincare is mainly a mechanical solution. Their number is growing, particularly in Europe, with various actions: exfoliating (microdermabrasion), cleansing (by micro-oscillations or ion pulses) or combining several actions to be increasingly multifunctional. "New brushes, fully dedicated to makeup are being marketed. Inspired by the Korean trend of electrical application, brushes have a tip that reproduces the finger tapping in order to assure a more uniform application of foundations, BB creams, moisturizers, concealers, blush and bronzing powders. The Color Me applicators marketed by Eric Jimenez are a good illustration of this trend.

To learn about skin

Another major emerging technology aims at improving consumer’s knowledge about the skin, its quality and its needs. Sensors in placed in devices measure parameters such as hydration, blemishes, colour, temperature, aging and environmental stresses (pollution and UV radiation), etc.

The BeautyExplorer launched by Sony earlier this year is a perfect example of this trend. The device analyses the light that is reflected from the skin and provides its diagnosis. Tools measuring sun exposure such as Netatmo’s June, or those that continuously measure several skin parameters such as the flexible patch that L’Oréal developed with the University of Illinois.

To improve the consumer’s experience

However, innovations are not just about applying skincare products, they also include the user’s experience. Actually, two main tracks are being explored.

The first one consists in helping consumers during the purchasing act. Thanks to smartphones and electronic mirrors now make it possible to visualize skin problems when they occur, and to test make-up or hair products through interactive interfaces. The most striking examples are Panasonic’s Beauty Mirror and the L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius application.

The second option consists in ensuring the safety and traceability through intelligent packaging. This is what provides Israel’s start-up Visualead. To fight against counterfeiting, the company’s Dotless Visual Code technology can control the authenticity of items provided the manufacturer has printed a smartphone-readable code on the product’s packaging. Each code only works once, and cannot be reused or rewritten by counterfeiters. According to Alcimed, brands such as L’Oréal and Ferrero have already created millions of unique Visual Dotless Codes for their products in China.

"In light of the innovations that are already available, one can expect an explosion of electronics and digital tools on the cosmetics market and the use of increasingly original technologies. The devices of the future will surely draw their inspiration from areas external to the cosmetics arena in order to offer new and ever more surprising features, that will revolutionize our vision of beauty products," concludes Pierre Gadrat, Director of Alcimed’s BU TIM.