Technology in beauty
From virtual reality to interactive apps, a new wave of technology is shifting the beauty landscape. Amanda Pauley uncovers how it will change the future of salons.
It's 2017 and we live in a world of instant gratification. Not only has the internet changed the way we shop and communicate, there’s now an app for every kind of problem. As a result, technology has integrated itself into every aspect of our lives. In the UK, four out of five adults have a smartphone, according to Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer 2016 report, and last year 63% of adults used social media daily, according to the Office of National Statistics.
So, it’s no surprise that technology is making its way into beauty, hoping to create a customer experience that’s much more seamless and interactive. “Historically, beauty and technology have been very distinct concepts with little crossover, but times are changing and digital beauty is fast becoming a power player,” says Carol Bawden, managing director of ArtPro Nail UK, which makes digital nail art printers.
Sophisticated virtual reality is opening up opportunities to create a new level of service, from US beauty store Sephora’s augmented reality mirror, which simulates make-up on a person’s face in both real time and 3D, to Wah Nails salon in Soho, London, which offers clients the option to digitally design and trial nail art looks with its virtual reality designer.
“It’s about using technology to create something that’s truly future-proof. So, from our Instagram account to our store, the vibe online and offline remains the same,” explains Wah Nails owner Sharmadean Reid MBE.
Meanwhile, electronics manufacturer Panasonic has developed a virtual mirror that could change the way we try and apply make-up. The smart mirror has an in-built, high-definition facial scanner that analyses blemishes, age spots and wrinkles by looking at the way skin reflects and absorbs light. It then prints a personalised sheet of make-up, formulated to the client’s needs and skin tone, which is pressed against the skin to apply.
The digital salon
But what does this digital revolution in beauty mean for high-street salons? Many experts believe these high-tech devices are not trying to replace the salon experience but are rather adding a new dimension to it – helping to enhance retail opportunities.
“Therapists will continue to play a vital role alongside digital innovation, with an understanding between the two that technological advancements – the online approach, complements advice from a professional – the offline approach,” adds Bawden. We explore some of the biggest innovations shaking up the market and explain the benefit they could have to your business.
OPI Nail Studio app
This app uses virtual reality technology to show users what OPI lacquer shades look like on their nails before having them professionally applied. Customers take a photo of their hand before applying digital nail beds on their fingers, which they can widen and lengthen to suit their hand shape.
From there, users can try on shades picked by the OPI MyStylist for more than 600 situations – from occasions such as weddings and birthdays to shades that suit how the user is feeling. Customers can also save their favourite colours on mood boards, which they can share with their nail tech.
“We wanted to give people the ability to effortlessly try on as many of our shades as possible and we felt doing so virtually was the most seamless and time-effective way to do so,” says Katie Barth, OPI production and advertising manager.
“It plays into our core values as a brand because it makes the experience of planning the next nail look much more fun and interactive.”
Salon benefit: Barth believes the app enables nail techs to give a more customised approach to treatment, which in turn builds loyalty: “It helps salons provide recommendations to their clients, while also allowing customers to experiment with shades without the fear of not liking it after it has been applied,” she says.
The app is free to download from the App Store. Find out more about the OPI app here.
Baldan Group Play Skin mask
The Italian beauty company’s hydrogel at-home sheet mask, packed with antioxidant vitamins and hyaluronic acid, uses the microcurrents of a smartphone to hydrate skin in 10 minutes.
Play Skin is applied to the face, followed by two electrodes which are placed on top of it, before being connected to the user’s smartphone via the earphone jack. This activates a lowdensity microcurrent, which acts on facial muscles and cells to tone and enhance the skin.
“Smartphones have revolutionised our way of living and Play Skin was born from this observation,” explains Sandro Sansoni, scientific manager at the Baldan Group. “We’ve created an effective and safe treatment that gives results in a short time using a tool which we use every day – the smartphone.”
Salon benefit: Results-driven homecare will help support the services offered by therapists, especially in maintaining longterm skin health.
“Salons will always remain a key part of clients’ self-care but we have to understand that as the technologies used by beauty therapists are updated, home care will also take important steps forward,” says Sansoni. “Customers want products that deliver visible results.”
For more information contact the Baldan Group.
Artpro V11 Nano Printer by 02 Nails
The brand’s latest digital nail art printer can print any image, pattern or colour on natural or artificial nails using inkjet printing combined with mobile technologies.
The handbag-sized printer is controlled from either a smartphone or tablet via its O2 Nails app, with users able to choose from thousands of pre-set designs or select an image directly from their camera roll, before having it printed on each nail in just 35 seconds.
“Our core focus was user and lifestyle consideration,” says Bawden. “The printer needed to be simple to use, small enough to be considered mobile and accessible for boutique salons, as well as nail techs entering the industry and looking for a USP.”
Salon benefit: With express beauty on the rise, Bawden believes printing technologies could pave the way for a new age of speedy nail art treatments. “We’ve been informed by existing Artpro clients that customer design is the most time-consuming part of any nail appointment,” she says.
“With the ability to download the app onto their phone, customers requiring express appointments can come ready-prepared with their chosen design.”
The ArtPro Nano printer is £995 and the app is free to download from the App Store. Find out more about ArtPro Nail UK here.
L'Oréal Makeup Genius App
L’Oréal Paris’s virtual reality make-up app lets users test out make-up products and see how they look as they move – transforming the user’s smartphone into an interactive mirror.
The augmented reality tech captures 64 facial data points to accurately place make-up and can capture facial expressions in real time including smiles, winks and pouts.
Users can then save their selfie and share it on social media, as well as sending it to their make-up artist so they can have the look created professionally in real life.
The brand describes the app as “a new and powerful way for consumers to experience the world of beauty – testing and trying on products and accessing personalised advice at the click of a button”.
Salon benefit: Apps like this can help support your make-up services, with clients able to try out different products and looks virtually, before coming to you to have them applied professionally for a big occasion or buy from your retail shelves.
The app is free to download from the App Store. Find out more about it here.
Vitual reality headsets at Wah Nails
The London-based nail salon enables clients to digitally design and trial nail art looks using a Samsung Gear VR headset and Leap Motion technology. Users place their hand in front of the headset and the device follows them, matching their movements within the app in real time while they play around with nail art designs.
Users can then post their artwork to social media platform Instagram before taking it to a Wah Nails tech who will create the look for them. “Virtual reality is an amazing way to ‘gameify’ the experience of getting your nails done without being gimmicky,” says Reid.
“There is so much you can do with this kind of technology – change nail length and shape or even the environment. In the future, we will have celebrities helping you choose your design, with it becoming an entire virtual-world experience.”
Salon benefit: Reid believes the future of the nail salon is about linking digital, retail and social to give clients an all-round integrated experience.
“It’s about combining beauty and technology to create innovative, interactive and immersive experiences for customers that make the move from online to offline seamless.”
Wah Nails charges from £30 for a nail art treatment. Find out more about Wah here.