Lockdown measures have generated a great deal of frustration in terms of beauty routines. Both men and women have scoured the internet for ideas, tips or advice to refresh their haircut, do a hair color, or treat themselves to a moment of well-being through treatments to be performed from their bathroom.

A sector severely impacted by the health crisis

While many beauty professionals have eventually reopened the doors of their salons, with sometimes drastic health and safety measures, they are struggling to regain lost ground. In France, according to a study carried out by consulting firm Asterès for the French beauty federation (FEBEA), beauty salons should see their annual sales fall by 25% in 2020.

However, some brands are anticipating a potential second wave lockdown - or simply looking ahead to the future of the beauty sector - by digitalizing their skincare offer. That’s the case of Optiphi, a brand from South Africa, which has launched digital facials.

Virtual appointement

To take advantage of these new-generation facials, all customers have to do is order one of the three kits offered on the brand’s website, which will be delivered to their home, and wait for a beautician to contact them to set up a virtual appointment. During the session, the professional will guide the client step by step to mix the products if necessary and perform the treatment with the appropriate gestures, provide advices you in relation to the client’s skin type, and monitor whether its skin reacts well to the application of the different products.

While this new approach to skincare treatments sounds tempting, a few questions arise. Is it really possible to reproduce the - often highly technical - gestures of beauty professionals? And what about the relaxation aspect, inherently implied by an appointment in an institute?

"Due to covid-19, many concepts such as this one are bound to emerge, but they take it from being a moment of advice and relaxation to something virtual, devoid of any pleasure. It ends up being something quite different," said Dr. Isabelle Rousseaux, aesthetic dermatologist and board member of the French Union of Dermatologists.

When beauty goes digital

Lockdown measures have shown that men and women are ready to switch to the digital realm for many services in many areas. However, patterns of consumption remain very different from one country to another with specificities for each one.

"In France, people are rather attached to beauty treatments in salons. I don’t think that this concept would function here, unless people can’t leave their homes. However, in 10 years, I may say the exact opposite, who knows? But not at the present," stressed Rousseaux, who nevertheless believes that this type of digital concept could be developed in the future.

Periods of lockdown have helped shake things up quite a bit all around. While beauty professionals have not had time to develop these types of at-home products and care, many have begun to offer online diagnostics, whether for skin or hair, so that everyone can buy the most suitable products or carry out hair coloring at home. Solutions that should sooner or later become more widely available.

Actually, digitalization, online skin care and brick-and-mortar salons can be complementary. In any case, this is what Jean-Michel Karam is banking on: the creator of the IOMA brand has just bought France’s Atelier du Sourcil salon network. The clients will be offered the possibility to subscribe to an at-home skin care service guided by a smartphone app. “We will develop synergies between the two subsidiaries, our digital beauty solution IEVA and the Atelier du Sourcil network. Moreover, the technology provided for L’Atelier will also be massive. There are many innovative solutions to enhance services and solutions as regards personalization according to the face’s morphology,Jean-Michel Karam told Premium Beauty News in a recent interview.