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Style & Beauty Tech

The Face Of 2021: Diversity & A.I. In The Beauty Industry

February 6, 2021

Words by Serena McSweeney | Image Credit Neelam Gill

The beauty industry is one of the most influential sectors globally.

From the models we see in magazines to the drug-store products we buy after watching YouTube, beauty products have immersed themselves in everyday routines and have had a large impact on many lives.

In fact, 2019 statistics show that the beauty world was a $532 billion-dollar industry, with the average woman spending more than $3,000 a year on products.

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) has long been something that consumers have tended to steer clear of. In a survey about businesses and AI, nearly 70% of Australians said they had some form of fear in relation to its use, which can stem from things such as privacy fears or unemployment.

Particularly with reference to the beauty industry, many consumers have very limited trust for AI in the beauty sphere. In a very traditional industry, where the norm is very much to go in-store for accurate skincare recommendations or to apply five different foundation shades until

you find a perfect match, this resistance comes as no surprise and accounts for why so many brands have yet to embrace the technological route.  

L’Oréal, however, is one of the earliest adopters of AI, and has shown why it is so important for other brands to follow suit.

For example, they’ve launched their ‘Smart Mirror’, a product that has features ranging from watching YouTube tutorials to help when you’re applying makeup to keeping track of your skincare products to make sure they’re benefiting your skin. You can also use their Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Colour to test different hair shades and products virtually to help you choose the perfect shade in ways not possible offline.

However, in a way that no one could have predicted, the coronavirus completely upended all forms of normal life, changing every life and business.

In a new world of socially-distanced hygiene measures or, in some countries, continuous lockdowns that have caused businesses to shut their physical stores, many brands have been forced to start adopting L’Oréal’s progressive stance and leveraging off technologies.

Furthermore, this has caused many consumers to take a leap into future years before they may have otherwise chosen to do. To buy new products, some customers have had no choice but to use the AI technologies businesses have on offer to make the right choices. It is now, therefore, incredibly important for companies to ensure the accuracy and quality of their AI and AR systems if they have any chance at persuading customers to shop online in the future and continue to use the AI features they have invested in.

Technology is not the only factor shifting in the beauty world. For years there has been a call for greater diversity.

A 2016 survey, however, shows that still to this day there is a lack of representation and inclusivity in the beauty sphere, with 70% of Asian and Black women feeling that their beauty needs were unmet by high-street brands.

In the book ‘Me and White Supremacy’, Saad writes about white supremacy showing up in the lack of “representation of dark-skinned and kinky-haired women”. As businesses take this time to re-invent their brands, greater focus should be placed upon the ways of representing and including all individuals within their brands and to break the systemic racism ingrained into aspects like not answering beauty needs of all individuals.

Fenty Beauty is renowned for this, offering 40 different foundation shades within their brand. Selena Gomez’s recent launch of her Rare Beauty company in 2020 has also been a leading beauty brand set to follow Fenty’s lead, with over 48 shades of foundations and concealers for all individuals and has designed packaging for some products that better aid people with arthritis.

It is with hope that, whenever the world reopens, brands have taken this time to repurpose and reorient themselves. As we’ve mentioned, businesses around the globe have the ability to influence our perceptions on the world, and, if there’s one thing we hope that we’ve all taken away from this pandemic, it is the importance of love, kindness and that, to make and bring change, we must all come together.

Her  beauty bonus: watch our her Work From Home beauty tutorial with @farahrajax here  #herbeauty

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