The “Phygital” Future Of The Beauty Industry

From nail painting robots and AI-curated beauty routines, to scannable ingredient lists and NFTs, these are the companies at the forefront of beauty’s shift to tech…

By Lucy Thorpe

19 January 2022

ith moves into the metaverse, at-home beauty becoming even more tech focused and robots entering in the salon space, here are the beauty tech trends that you need to know about in 2022.

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Beauty Expands Into The Metaverse

Brands are starting to step into the metaverse and explore partnerships with gaming, esports creators and influencers. P&G unveiled an immersive virtual world titled BeautySphere, which allows consumers to interact with the company's portfolio of brands through live and simulated content focused on sustainability, inclusion and safety.

As the metaverse starts to open up to consumers, it’s likely that it will become more available to startups and mid-sized beauty brands who are looking to capitalise on new opportunities to connect with their audience. This is a huge extension of the AR and VR-enabled brand experiences we saw at the height of the pandemic.

Simi Lindgren - founder of Yuty, which connects consumers with their ideal, sustainable beauty routine based on AI, says: “As brands and retailers look to continue to connect with consumers in meaningful ways, I believe that there will be an evolution of 'phygital' and beauty in the Metaverse. We have seen the beginnings of this with strategic partnerships between gaming and beauty, and there is certainly more to come.”

Scannable Beauty

Whilst QR codes are nothing new, they’ve had a resurgence over the last couple of years, thanks to the pandemic. Consumers are now used to scanning and creating codes when it comes to their health and wellbeing. This is moving to the beauty industry with scannable QR codes and barcodes to re-order, pick up product instructions and get product recommendations. Apps like MyFitnessPal already have in-built barcode scanners to auto track calories and macros, but beauty is heading this way too. In 2022, you’ll have the ability to scan your beauty products in-store to check out whether the ingredients are as natural as they claim to be or if they’ll work for your skin. This tech is growing globally in the beauty industry and seems set to put even more information into consumers’ hands.

Beauty And The NFT

NARS, Tatcha, Clinique, e.l.f. and Givenchy have made moves into NFTs, exploring digital creativity and allowing their customers, fans and followers to explore another way to connect with their brand. It gives the customer an opportunity to ‘buy in’ to the beauty industry, and build their community in a time when many feel disconnected - according to industry research, 90% of shoppers have shown interest in purchasing an NFT in 2022.

Kim Oguilve from digital health, beauty and wellness platform Revieve says: “The metaverse and NFTs are putting the power in consumers' hands driving beauty brands to reformulate what data, loyalty, and community means to their customers. Today's consumers, especially Gen Z, are craving unique experiences in the digital world. Only time will tell what all the possibilities are, but we know they could be endless.”

In-Salon Robots

We’re already starting to see robots enter the salon space to automate precision tasks, making them quicker and more precise. While it’s cute to imagine Wall-E painting your nails, the reality is still looking a little more conceptual. Oakland-based lash extension robot LUUM takes a full lash appointment from 2-3 hours to around 30 minutes using barcodes, AI and computer vision to apply lashes. A trained lash artist oversees and provides the finishing touches.

It’s a similar story with in-salon nail treatments too. Nail painting robots like Clockwork, Coral and Nimble all use computer vision, AI and robotics to take custom nail painting down to just 10 minutes. However, the robot tech can’t do a full-service manicure or pedicure (yet). This type of automation is looking completely possible in 2022.

Personalised Beauty Continues To Grow

The days of one-size-fits all beauty is over as more consumers look for beauty brands that are curated, customised and individual to their needs. AI tech is filling the space that’s traditionally been focused on a set of beauty standards that don’t fit, and this will continue in 2022.

Claire Triantis, from AI-led custom beauty brand DCYPHER says: “We wanted to ensure that everyone is represented and can access made-to-order makeup products that work for them. There are 8 billion faces in the world, and around 40 shades in standard foundation ranges - a one-size-fits-all model isn’t good enough for consumers. We predict even more growth to come in beauty personalisation.”

At-Home Devices

At-home skin care devices aren’t new - especially over the last few years when the pandemic has meant salon doors stayed closed - but the tech behind them is. Skincare systems like Opte use precision cameras to detect variations in tone and apply targeted skincare and makeup to treat and conceal.

At-home microcurrent skin care devices, like ZIIP, NuFace and FOREO, are gathering pace in 2022 too. These devices use microcurrents of electricity to lift and sculpt the face with toning, rejuvenating and skin benefits. Although the devices themselves are expensive, they do provide effective at-home alternatives to people who aren’t able to access these treatments with a specialist.

The Short Stack

Beauty, tech and trends have always been linked together, but 2022 looks like the year when tech innovation in the beauty industry truly steps up

By Lucy Thorpe

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