It’s no secret that currently the world is experiencing widespread economic problems. The cost of living is higher than ever. In addition, economic uncertainty has caused many investors to become more conservative. This is bad news for startups and the world of tech in general. However, despite all of this, consumers are still spending on beauty apps and tech.
In fact, large corporations are still pouring money into this seemingly pandemic and inflation-proof sector. This makes a lot of sense when you look at the numbers.
High-income US earners collectively spent about 9 billion dollars on beauty products in the first half of 2022 alone. In addition, the beauty and personal care market is also projected to grow about 3% annually between 2022 and 2026.
So, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the world of beauty apps and tech.
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas reflected an interesting trend of the past few years. Usually, when you think of a consumer electronics show, you might think of devices like home assistant robots or smart TVs.
However, beauty apps and tech are more present every year. At this year’s show, which took place from January 5-8, we saw beauty via apps, extreme personalization, beauty tech that uses AI, and more.
According to Park Youngho, head of K-beauty conglomerate Amorepacific’s R&I Center:
Global customers are now creating ‘hyper-personalization’ and ‘me-centric’ trends, and the bespoke beauty market has great growth potential backed by remarkable development of beauty technologies.
Amorepacific received the CES Innovation Award this year, specifically for its launches which focus on customization. This includes its Authentic Color Master by Tonework and its at-home Cosmechip device.
The Authentic Color Master by Tonework empowers users to create custom lip and foundation colors with AI facial recognition technology.
Cosmechip, on the other hand, allows users to enter dry chips of skincare ingredients to a device. Then they create custom skincare products instantly at home with it.
Beauty’s More Inclusive Future
L’Oreal group’s CES launches were powered by tech created by Alphabet Inc.’s health tech company Verily and non-permanent tattoo startup Prinker.
They focused on automatic makeup application for users with limited mobility. Something we have talked about time and time again on the blog is the importance of considering inclusivity in app design.
Accommodating for a range of disabilities is often treated like an afterthought. However, when based purely on numbers, this does not make sense.
Almost all people experience a mobility-limiting injury at some point in their lives. They also age. Hearing loss, vision loss, and loss of mobility are often part of the aging process for many people.
In fact, about 13% of the US population has a disability. That includes people of all ages.
According to Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of the L’Oréal Group:
“For L’Oreal, the future of beauty is inclusive. And this future will be made more accessible by technology.”
The prototypes L’Oreal launched at CES include their HAPTA device, which empowers users with limited hand and arm mobility to apply lipstick.
Alphabet Inc.’s health tech company Verily developed the tech behind it. Verily initially created it for their Liftware dining utensils, which were meant to be used by people with limited mobility.
L’Oreal also released a prototype for automatic eyebrow makeup application called Brow Magic.
Users scan their face with L’Oréal-owned AI beauty app Modiface, and select the shape, thickness and effect of their ideal brow. They can then hold the device up to their face, where 2,400 nozzles “print” 1,200 drops per inch of eyebrow makeup to create the look.
Non-permanent tattoo startup Prinker developed the tech. The eyebrow makeup it applies can be washed off with normal makeup remover.
Perfect Corp. is a Taiwan-based beauty Tech service startup. It was founded in 2014. They use a trademarked face-tracking technology to provide AR beauty apps to consumers and other businesses.
Perfect Corp is known best for their virtual makeup try-on app YouCam. YouCam allows users to do a one-tap skin retouch, as well as a range of different photo edits. Users can also apply augmented reality makeup looks, hairstyles, and colors.
Perfect Corp offers several consumer apps, including:
- YouCam Makeup
- YouCam Fun
- YouCam Nails
- YouCam Video
However, their tech also serves a number of companies.
For example, Estee Lauder has incorporated their technology to offer consumers AR try-on mirrors to improve the shopping experience. These help consumers do things like match foundations and sample products virtually.
Perfect Corp claims that this technology profoundly affects businesses.
This startup is an example of how AI and AR technology are blending with the beauty business. From retouching and enhancing selfies with virtual makeup to changing how consumers purchase beauty products globally, Perfect Corp. is involved.
Something else that is interesting about Perfect Corp. is that they offer both B2B and B2C tech.
South Korean Startup ICON.AI launched this smart mirror in 2020. This beauty smart mirror and personal assistant won a CES Innovation Award that year.
The Zmirror uses AI to track the progress of your skin and skincare routine. It offers personalized product recommendations based on this information.
Zmirror users can also watch makeup tutorials on the mirror and follow along beside them. The smart mirror has integrated video and audio.
The company is working to deliver AI-powered products across various global markets, according to the ICON.AI website:
ICON.AI aims to deliver AI-enabled products to every market around the world. Our revolutionary technology paves a path toward the future.
We are a software-led hardware company. ICON.AI is not only a proprietary Smart Mirror maker but also an Amazon-approved System Integrator for Alexa Voice Service.
They make a number of different products.
Fresha: One of the Most Successful Innovators in Beauty Apps and Tech
Fresha is a UK-based beauty tech startup founded in 2015. They create business software for beauty salons and spas. Their software has applications such as:
- Online appointment booking
- Payment processing
- Inventory for brick-and-mortar and online stores
- Data analytics
Currently, Fresha has over 80,000 partner businesses in over 100 countries. They work with more than 300,000 wellness and beauty professionals and more than 600 million appointments have been booked via their app. The company recently received a valuation of $640 million.
According to Fresha:
Fresha is the world’s only subscription-free platform in beauty and wellness. Most of our features are completely free to use.
While beauty products specifically are the biggest revenue driver in the overall beauty industry, haircuts are in general amongst the biggest regular beauty expenses for the average American.
Fresha connects professionals to clients in both the beauty and wellness industries in over 100 countries, and these industries are only expected to grow, despite inflation.
At CES 2023, Neutrogena introduced an interesting collaboration with Nourished. Nourished is a company that creates 3-D printed supplement gummies. Their collaboration uses AI to give consumers completely personalized on-demand 3-D printed skin supplements. These are called Skinstacks.
Roberto Khoury, senior vice president of Neutrogena, said in a press release:
“At Neutrogena, we are grounded in the belief that beauty begins with healthy skin…Working with Nourished allows us to further that commitment by marrying our award-winning digital skin assessment with Nourished elegant 3D printing technology to create on-demand dietary supplements to help consumers meet their personal skincare goals.”
So, how does this work? Users open Neutrogena’s Skin360 App. They use the skin assessment app and answer questions about their skin and skincare goals.
Users are recommended a supplement stack based on that information. Then, Nourished 3D prints them a vegan and sugar-free supplement gummy stack in daily compostable packets and ships them out.
Final Thoughts on Beauty Apps and Tech
As you can see, the global beauty industry is vast and a powerful revenue driver. It contains varied professionals, consumers, startups, corporations, and technologies. There is so much here.
Beauty apps and tech respond to many needs in the global marketplace. This includes everything from new beauty tools to new ways of doing business entirely. So, we will see a lot of growth, innovation, and change in the coming years in this area.
This could partially be because global instability has changed things for many people. Those with extra income prioritize comfort, wellness, and self-care now.
Consumers want to look and feel better. They like tech, personalization, and new tools. So, many businesses around the world are working to address these needs.
After all, modern consumers have modern demands.
Have you interacted with any of these companies, technologies, or something similar?
What did you think? Tell us! Comment below.
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