As consumers increasingly seek beauty products suited to their specific lifestyle needs, the demand for personalisation in the cosmetics and personal care industry has increased rapidly. According to Forrester, 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalised service or experience . Across the beauty and personal care sectors, it is no longer just the purchasing experience or product recommendations that are personalised – but the formulation of the product itself.
The appeal of personalisation is that it allows consumers to tailor their care routine and express their unique character. Unlike the ‘nice to have’ personalised packaging, which is often used to improve a brand’s visual appeal. The customised approach to product development and ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) formulations in beauty and personal care products focus on function and the tangible product benefits offered to each consumer.
One area where this has become particularly prevalent relates to skin microbiome. Here, increased consumer awareness demonstrates the growing understanding of how personal care needs differ from person to person. Also, scientific studies suggest that genetic variances affect how individuals respond to ingredients creating differences in the efficacy of a product. For example, consumers degrade collagen at different rates, which means one-size-fits-all products can result in under- or over- nourished skin when using generic products.
There is no denying that mainstream ‘off-the-shelf’ products serve more common conditions, such as dry skin or dandruff. But the value and service provided through personalisation, like DIY face masks, add-in serums or build-your-own perfumes, are helping brands earn the loyalty of their most-valued customers.
The power of the consumer
Examples of brands that have mastered the ‘build-your-own’ concept include haircare brands, Function of Beauty and Prose. Both invite consumers to answer a ‘hair quiz’ to create a unique formulation filled with natural, effective ingredients. Recommendations based on hair type, hair goals, age and lifestyle are combined with fragrance and colour preferences. While in the cosmetics sector, the tech-focused beauty brand, Il Makiage is using the same approach with the promise to consumers that it will ‘find your foundation shade in 90 seconds’.
Get ready for haute couture skincare
On a more basic level, personalisation has enabled consumers to customise products at home while choosing sensorial preferences for their products. However, hyper-personalisation and the use of DNA mapping is set to further transform the skincare sector over the next few years.
For example, in late 2019, Givaudan Active Beauty announced its use of new DNA sequencing, miniaturised device technologies and big data processing to create i-MAPS – the first instant microbiome profiling system in the cosmetics industry. It allows customers to expand their offering to include skincare products that are tailored to the unique microbiome of their consumers. Every profile provides exclusive information about the bacteria present on the microbiome and correlates it to a specific skin type such as oily, dry, sensitive, or ageing.
Laurent Bourdeau, Head of Givaudan Active Beauty, said: “The creation of i-MAPS is not only an impressive achievement in microbiome research, but it’s also a game-changer for the world of cosmetics. We are very proud to create new revolutionary cosmetic innovations supported by a highly experienced and dedicated team of scientists who continue to advance our research of the microbiome.”
But it doesn’t stop there. BASF – the largest chemical producer in the world – has designed four chassis formulations for skincare that target different consumer groups according to age and their preferences in terms of texture and ‘naturalness’. Each formulation is provided with two recommended boosters that can be used to personalise the final application, while a mix and match approach can result in countless combination possibilities.
Tech trends shaping the beauty industry
Technology advancements, such as Givaudan’s i-MAPS, are creating new strategic opportunities for brands to explore the personalisation of beauty products with microbiome data. As a result, the beauty industry is fast becoming technology-driven with artificial intelligence (AI), 3D-printing, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and DNA analysis all helping to tap into the growing trend for products that can be tailored to suit individual needs.
And, thanks to technology, consumers can now use mobile apps to test their skin conditions. L’Oréal’s La Roche-Posay brand, together with Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, launched the first personalised skin diagnosis tool powered by artificial intelligence last year. The Effaclar Spotscan is based on dermatology research by La Roche-Posay and powered by Alibaba’s machine-learning technologies that help identify a user’s type of acne by analysing the lesions from selfies. With more than 6,000 scientific images of men and women with different skin types and varying degrees of acne severity, it diagnoses skin problems and provides recommendations for products best suited in response.
Similarly, Shiseido‘s personalised skincare system combines an intelligent smartphone app and dedicated product dispenser to provide optimal skincare, calculated using an original algorithm that analyses skin, environment, and sleep data. Neutrogena has recently debuted its 3D-printed personalised mask, MaskiD that is customised with data obtained through the brand’s Skin360 system. The app analyses the skin and makes ingredient recommendations for each area of the face. Using a proprietary 3D printing process, the ingredients are then ‘printed’ onto a custom-fit hydrogel facial mask.
What does personalisation mean for R&D professionals?
As demand for more personalised formulations continues to grow exponentially, there will be an increasing need for safety assessments to ensure that any blend of ingredients is both safe and delivers on its product claims.
In addition, the rising use of technology is merging the science seen in the lab with that on the computer. The need to build intelligent algorithms to obtain data that can be used to create formulations to meet an array of individual needs opens up a world of collaborative opportunities driving innovation for the next era of personalisation in personal care.
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