Two Views: The role of neuroscience in the beauty industry

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Psychology Benefit cosmetics

expert opinion column Two Views on neuroscience in the beauty industry
When beauty industry insiders discuss science, frequently it’s cosmetic chemistry. For this installment of Two Views, Cosmetics Design checked in with experts to find out how another discipline — neuroscience — is not only relevant in the personal care and cosmetics industry but essential.

Here, Vicky Bullen, CEO of the branding design agency Coley Porter Bell, weighs in on how she and her team at the agency use neuroscience to inform cosmetic branding and design. Then, the scientist behind Benefit Cosmetics brow translator initiative, Javid Sadr, a PhD, who is both an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and an Associate Member of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, writes on how closely linked beauty and neuroscience really are.

Vicky Bullen, CEO Coley Porter Bell

“We make sure there isn’t too much thinking in the system. Why? Because people make decisions instinctively in the unconscious, intuitive System 1 brain, then justify them in the conscious, heavy-lifting system 2 brain. So it astounds us that strategy development is mostly a system 2 game.

“Visual Planning is our approach which blends these two ‘brains’ together in brand creation to build more intuitive, more differentiated brand strategies. We use this to inform cosmetics branding and design, alongside appropriate neuroscientific principles including:

‘Thinslicing’ – the brain draws information from the smallest slivers of information – every detail of your design counts.

‘Priming’ – we learn by association – so we utilize cultural visual codes to cue the relevant meaning for your brand.

‘Multi-sensory’ – the more sensory cues used, the more paths to memory are created – so we create brand touchpoints that stimulate multiple senses to embed your brand deep into the psyche.

“Using these techniques we engage both sides of the brain, increasing the brand's chance of real world success.”

Javid Sadr, PhD, Assistant Professor, Dept of Psychology and Associate Member, Dept of Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge

“Beauty is, at its heart, entirely a question of how the mind / brain processes visual and other experiences.  From that starting point, embracing psychology and neuroscience and taking a scientific (rather than trial-and-error) approach is the only way to make real, meaningful progress in understanding -- and influencing -- beauty.

“My recent interaction with Benefit Cosmetics nicely illustrates this approach, expanding on Benefit's expertise in eyebrow aesthetics by connecting them with scientific research in an entirely new domain:  the eyebrows' role in emotional expressions and nonverbal communication.

“The best practices in the beauty industry -- from aesthetics and innovation to marketing and growth -- are those based on scientific data and reasoning, whether from existing research or new studies and data-gathering with scientific partners.  There's no gulf between the psychology and neuroscience of visual (or olfactory or tactile) experience and the ‘art’ of aesthetics and beauty, other than a lack of cross-talk and collaboration.”

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