Biohacking comes from the words “biology” and “hacking” and is understood as the set of actions that an individual carries out, through different techniques and tools, which can be medical, nutritional, biological, electronic and of course cosmetic, to optimize your body, mind and life, providing a better understanding about how the body works and how we age. It is also known as DIY Biology. Many biohacking techniques have been around for centuries, such as meditation and fasting. The biohacking market is worth an estimated U$ 52 billion by 2027 with an estimated CAGR of 20.4%, indicating that it is a promising field for the cosmetic industry.
Glamour Magazine featured an interesting definition in a January article: It is the practice of changing your physiology through science, so you can control, manipulate, and create your path to better performance. “Imagine that your body is a car; you need not only the right fuel, you need the best wheels that fit perfectly, smooth brakes and an engine tuned to your precise requirements” explains Nick Powell, an expert on the subject.
Vogue published an interesting article in December 2020 about the role biohacking will play in the future of skincare. We are looking at how we can hack into our own body with the help of advanced science and technology. The market shows us advances in devices to track our sleep patterns, monitor our gut health, and even print our own skin.
Below we will look at some very interesting trends in biohacking, which are being driven by the pandemic, confinement and the need to strengthen our defences to look and feel good in these difficult times.
Infrared Light Therapy: We can see in blogs that it is good inside and out since it has been shown that infrared light has many health benefits, improves skin appearance, takes care of blood circulation, reduces stresses and renews energy.
Biohapps: Tracking and collecting data (known as data feedback) represents a large part of the success of biohacking. Many biohackers learn about their biorhythms with new apps that help track sleep, fitness, and other apps that provide insight into what the body and mind need to reach their full potential (and beyond). Recently the Oura ring was launched, this is a very accurate sleep and activity tracker, which records body temperature, blood volume pulse and intensity of movements 24/7. With this data, people can build a baseline of information about themselves to achieve optimal sleep.
Facial massages: Facial massages are becoming more and more popular in Korea and Japan. We are seeing some very interesting innovations including fascia massage, craniosacral therapy, acupressure and bone adjustment (the human head has 29 different bones, they are not static). The face is a reflection of your overall health. The Tanaka massage is anti-ageing and makes the skin look younger just after two weeks, as it fights wrinkles quickly and firms the skin. The massage stimulates the lymph nodes, thus accelerating the elimination of toxins and excess fluids from the face.
Cosmetic acupuncture: It is based on the same technique of using microneedles and aims to increase the levels of oxygenation, microcirculation and detoxification of the skin.
Fabric osmotics: There is a growing development of biotextiles and osmotic fabrics impregnated with skincare products, for example in sheets and lingerie that help treat the skin while you sleep. An interesting example is a pillowcase from Nufabrx, which has tea tree oil to help acne-prone skin.
3D printing devices: This year we see the launch of 3D printing devices that scan the skin and provide a custom blend of skincare products and microdroplet pigments for a precise application.
Microcurrent: Microcurrent treatments have been around since the 80s as a medical option for treating muscle paralysis. Biohackers are using this technique to achieve a non-invasive facelift. The low intensity electrical current trains the facial muscles to appear more lifted, taut and firmer. Magazine Elle published an interesting article in March indicating that tools like NuFace and Ziip are gaining popularity with consumers. Microcurrent facials are like a gym workout for the face. At the biochemical level, we will see new technology mechanisms for skincare that emulate the action of the microcurrent, therefore skin care microcurrent-like is one of the great innovation opportunities for the category.
Digestible wellness: Recently Bobbi Brown who is a professional makeup artist launched Evolution_18, with the slogan “Beauty begins within”, it has a range of gummies, shakes, snacks and tablets made with superfoods and antioxidants that promote strong nails, fair skin and hair sparkly.
Liquid skin: A trend that is all the rage in Asia and that consists of changing the shape of the face immediately. This is a skin-coloured silicone mask that sticks to the face to lift the cheekbones, chisel the chin, or slim the nose.
Longevity: Dave Asprey is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who aspires to live until he is 180 years old and has invested two million dollars in biohacking. After suffering from altitude sickness or “soroche” in Tibet, the locals gave him a traditional yak milk tea drink. A few years later he launched Bulletproof Coffee, which has generated a new trend and gastronomic category. On the other hand, Valter Longo has discovered how fasting can reduce certain metabolic markers related to longevity, indicated as intermittent fasting.
Frozen beauty: The ice in skincare is in vogue… Ice therapy and cryo-facials are procedures that are in trend, they are great because they increase blood circulation, minimize pores and relieve inflammation. We are also seeing the rise of cryo-rollers, which are kept in the fridge and have the ability to keep the cold for long-lasting massages. In formulation, we see new technologies for skincare from the coldest places on earth and also new excipients and formulation textures that allow different sensory properties when the product is stored in the fridge. At the biochemical level, we also see new mechanisms of action that simulate the repairing effect of cold on the skin, which is why frozen-like is also a concept that is trending for various cosmetic categories.
Molecular wellness: There are cutting edge clinics in the world that are offering disruptive procedures. For example, BelleCell in London offers specially designed intravenous drips of anti-ageing actives, nutrients and antioxidants. In Los Angeles, Upgrade Labs offers treatments in cryotherapy capsules and ozone saunas.
I think that we as cosmetic chemists and formulators have a great challenge and that is to direct cosmetics to help meet the new needs of biohackers. This is one of the most interesting trends and we are seeing launches of technologies and new mechanisms related to biohacking. Definitely passion for innovation!
Another concept that has solidified itself as a search for the optimization of the body, mind and life is veganism. Read John Jimenez’s previous article and find out the latest trends in Vegan Beauty and why they are on the rise.