Strategy

Beauty Devices: a definite way forward for cosmetics

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Elisabeth Araujo

More and more consumers have begun incorporating instrumental cosmetics in their beauty routines in recent years. Elisabeth Araujo, Chairwoman of L’Oréal Beauty Devices, tells us about the Group’s plans to win over this new market.

The Group has been setting its sights high in this area since 2011

Unknown a decade ago, beauty devices are now springing up in beauty salons and bathrooms all over the world. “Halfway between a classic cosmetic product and a professional tool, these devices provide an “augmented” beauty experience and promise a performance that exceeds those of cosmetic formulas. They target discerning consumers on the look-out for excellence”, says Elisabeth. Instrumental cosmetics optimise results for hair and skincare: “Clarisonic brushes, for example, guarantee to cleanse six times more effectively than cleansing by hand. It transforms skin texture day in, day out”. As a result, the beauty device market is expanding three times faster than the standard beauty market.

L’Oréal positioned itself early on in this sector. Back in 2011, the Group acquired Clarisonic, a US cleansing brush company and a pioneer in the field. In 2012, it launched Steampod 2.0, a professional hairstyling device that combines a steam-based hair straightener with pro-keratin technology. And this year, L’Oréal switched up the gears by winning the Innovation Award at the CES tradeshow in Las Vegas for the Kerastase Hair Coach, its first smart hairbrush. Clarisonic, meanwhile, is launching Smart Profile Uplift, the first ever mechanobiology-based anti-aging device, as a fruit of five years-worth of collaboration within the Group.

Beauty and device engineering expertise: twin strengths that power innovation

Innovating in the area of beauty devices presents stern challenges. “It’s a completely new business. Most companies struggle to get results”, Elisabeth tells us. L’Oréal can draw on two key strengths: “long-standing beauty expertise in consumer intelligence and formulation, coupled with solid knowledge of device engineering”.

Based near Seattle, one of America’s largest tech hubs, the Beauty Devices division works closely with a number of other players, including Advanced Research and Applied Research, which are part of Research & Innovation, as well as external partners. Advanced Research has the task of constantly expanding the Group’s scientific knowledge. “These teams gather data and perform research on skin and hair types from all over the world to produce new active ingredients and molecules. Thanks to them, we have a very deep understanding of skin aging”, she says. Applied Research refines the formulation systems that turn active ingredients into end products: “They produce thousands of formulas, which they then adapt into different product families”. Applied Research engineers supply the requisite device expertise, with the team based in Redmond in Washington State developing the initial Smart Profile Uplift prototypes. The Seattle teams also collaborate with external partners that bring more specific expertise. “When it came to designing the Smart Profile Uplift, we relied heavily on work by two centres of mechanobiology excellence: the Mechanobiology Institute in Singapore and the Institut Langevin in Paris”, says Elisabeth. She goes on to comment: “As a result, we have a good command on every stage of product development, from R&D to design and production of the final product”.

Instrumental cosmetics: one of L’Oréal’s new innovation models

The Group’s work is bearing fruit. Clinical results for the Smart Profile Uplift are a telling example. As Elisabeth explains: “The new massage head improves 15 clinical signs of aging, including skin firmness, radiance and lustre. Effects are visible immediately and increase after 12 weeks based on a routine that takes just a few minutes a day. These are unprecedented performances in the world of beauty!” The results are equally conclusive from a user perspective: over 90% of the women asked to test the product have built it into their daily regimen and use it regularly.

Elisabeth sums it up: “These beauty devices embody the very best of what L’Oréal has to offer, perfectly illustrating our innovation model, which is based on turning science into beauty”.

L’Oréal’s next challenge: Bathroom 2.0

L’Oréal has blazed a trail in beauty devices and has big ambitions for this niche market. “This a completely new world, but we plan to expand strongly in the coming years and we have the structures to do just that”, says Elisabeth. Next up is Bathroom 2.0. “More and more, beauty devices are connected. That means more data, and hence more precise and real consumer intelligence. In the future, it may be possible for us to know how much time people spend in the bathroom and which products they use, enabling us to offer tailored beauty routines for everyone. It will revolutionise the beauty sector!”