The future of personalised beauty? Inclusivity, precision and sustainability, says L’Oréal tech chief

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

L'Oréal centres its technology innovation efforts on these three pillars because the future of personalised beauty needs to reach millions, achieve previously impossible results and contribute to a better world, its Technology Incubator head says (Getty Images)
L'Oréal centres its technology innovation efforts on these three pillars because the future of personalised beauty needs to reach millions, achieve previously impossible results and contribute to a better world, its Technology Incubator head says (Getty Images)

Related tags L'oréal beauty 4.0 beauty tech personalised beauty Beauty devices Skin care Makeup inclusive beauty Sustainability precision beauty

Personalised beauty must be inclusive and far-reaching, with tech that provides unrivalled precision, all whilst keeping sustainability front and centre, says the head of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator.

This year, L’Oréal soared into the beauty tech spotlight with the unveiling of its personalised cosmetics device Perso. Designed to create exclusive customised lipstick and skin care formulas at-home, based on individual beauty needs, the device was set for a beta launch in Q1 of next year​, starting with the lipstick variant.

Last month, L’Oréal also revealed it was set to launch a digital version of the shade finder technology behind its customised foundation Le Teint Particulier by Lancôme​ to bring this personalised offering to more consumers worldwide.

How does tech fit into personalised beauty?

At-home blending and dispensing devices and digital skin care and makeup analysis clearly formed an important part of personalised beauty’s future, but what will be the critical focal points moving forward? And what key aspects should industry carefully consider with future tech innovations?

CosmeticsDesign-Europe caught up with Guive Balooch, head of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, to find out.

“When we started the team eight years ago, our idea was: ‘let’s find some of the biggest challenges that people have had around inclusivity when it comes to beauty and see if we can use tech to personalise products and achieve these needs’,”​ Balooch said.

“…Our goal is not to personalise; our goal is to create inclusive beauty. By using personalisation, we believe we can achieve inclusivity,”​ he said.

‘The most difficult project’ has been skin tone shade

L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, formed in 2012, started with its customised foundation project Le Teint Particulier by Lancôme – addressing one of the “most important parts of inclusivity” ​which was skin tone shade, ​Balooch said.

“We started with that because it was the biggest problem to solve for inclusivity.”

However, creating a foundation that catered to the hugely diverse skin tones among consumers was complex because it required measuring the skin tone very accurately, he said. The Tech Incubator team therefore designed a patented foundation shade finder technology and accompanying algorithm that took precise skin tone measurements to create unique, exact-match foundation blends, he said. Le Teint Particulier could customise foundation blends by shade, coverage and skin type, matching 8,000 skin tones with 72,000 possible different formulas.

But Balooch said this initial in-store device and its capabilities weren’t far-reaching enough to be considered truly inclusive, prompting the team to develop a digital version, due to launch soon.

“Then, we started thinking about skin,”​ he said. The team realised that with skin care products, the most important aspect was efficacy and efficiency, so under Skinceuticals L’Oréal’s Tech Incubator developed D.O.S.E – an in-store service that formulated customised serums designed to address unique skin concerns. Again, he said L’Oréal was now focused expanding reach to “people all around the world”​ in a digital format.

“Reach is the biggest challenge [for inclusivity] and also the biggest opportunity,”​ Balooch said. “…If you want to achieve inclusivity, you have to do two things: the first is put an experience on the market that really works; it has to deliver the right product. Then there’s this cascading strategy to get it to everyone around the world; it’s more logistics.”

Precision beauty still a sharp future focus

L’Oréal also still hugely believed in the idea of precision beauty forming a critical part in the future of personalisation, Balooch said.

“You can create very magical potential results in makeup and skin care by being able to find minute areas and detect areas on the face and being able to apply products in a more precise or artistic way with technology. So, I’m really into that,”​ he said.

“…Precision beauty is all about how we can use technology to achieve results which would be impossible to do without including technology into an offer.”

Importantly, if these precision technologies, apps or devices were designed in the right way, he said they would incorporate an “evolving approach” ​that updated according to changes in consumer beauty needs or desires over time, he said.

Balooch previously said precision beauty was set to take centre stage in the coming years​.

Industry has to create ‘tech for a better world’

And, as beauty continued its advance deeper into the tech world, he said sustainability had to be everything – industry create “tech for a better world”.

This was about creating products with a better purpose, Balooch said – an idea that played into L’Oréal’s wider 2030 ‘For the Future’ sustainability plan​ that aimed to, among other things, achieve carbon neutrality within ten years; convert all plastic packaging to recycled or bio-based; and ensure 95% of its ingredients were bio-based, derived from abundant minerals or circular.

The beauty world of the future, he said, would move towards “solutions that are tailor made”​, centred on inclusivity, precision and sustainability – everything his Tech Incubator team were focused on.

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