Beauty brands are using everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR) to keep their customers engaged in a fiercely competitive market. But do such innovations actually work or are they simply marketing hype? When L’Oreal said last year it no longer wanted to be the number one beauty firm in the world, but “the number one beauty tech company”, it was clear things in the industry had changed. “Women have had the same beauty concerns for 30 to 40 years, but technology has created a more demanding consumer,” explains Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator. “They want more personalised and precise products, and we have to respond.” So what are the main tech trends?

1. Personalisation and AI
According to Mr Balooch: “50% of women complain that they can’t find the right shade of foundation for their face, and women with darker skin tones have been crying out for more choice.”

2. Virtual ‘try on’ apps
As we do more of our shopping online beauty brands are increasingly using augmented reality (AR) to enhance the experience. Improvements in image recognition and face tracking tech is making these digital overlays more accurate.

3. Smart skincare tools
Would you trust a computer to rate your skin? The HiMirror, a “smart mirror” made by Taiwan’s New Kinpo Group, does just this. It takes a photo of your face every time you log in and scans it for wrinkles, red spots, pores, fine lines, and brightness levels.

4. Printed make up
Will we ever see robots put on our make-up for us? A number of gadgets released in the last few years suggest we might. Take the Opté wand from Proctor and Gamble (P&G), a make-up printer unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

5. 3D or ‘e-make-up’
One of the latest beauty tech trends doesn’t actually involve wearing real cosmetics. Inspired by the craze for AR filters on Snapchat and Instagram, “e-make up” artists enable you to download outlandish make-up looks to enhance your digital self.

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