L’Oréal is establishing itself as a leader in the connected beauty realm with its launch of the first smart hairbrush.
In partnership with luxury haircare brand Kérastase and consumer electronics company Withings, L’Oréal announced the release of the brush yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The brush uses sensors to monitor hair analytics and track them in an accompanying app. The aim is to reduce breakage and improve the quality of hair using sensory technology to identify best practices and suggest products to improve care.
However, having tech-styled hair doesn’t come cheap — the Kérastase Hair Coach, which is expected to be available in mid-2017, will retail for $200. It’s one of several connected beauty products that are emerging on the market, an extension of the explosion of augmented reality beauty apps that become ubiquitous in 2016 — they included L’Oréal’s own Makeup Genius app, Urban Decay’s Vice Lipstick app and Conair’s Virtual Hairstyle Makeover app.
Stanislas Vandier — founder of Wired Beauty, which produces a connected face mask that tracks skin conditions through an app — said connected products will allow consumers to gather more information about their skin, body and hair than ever before. Like the L’Oréal brush, his mask includes an e-commerce element that suggests recommended products.
“Connected wearables will be one of the key parts of the new value chain of the beauty industry,” he said. “Connected beauty puts you in control of very important information.”
For instance, using a microphone that listens to the sound of hair brushing, L’Oréal’s smart brush pinpoints patterns in texture and moisture levels. Brush strokes are examined via haptic feedback that lets the user know if they are being too forceful, and — in order to maximize data accrual — conductivity infrastructure identifies if hair is wet or dry.
Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal’s Research and Innovation Technology Incubator, said a major focus for his team was connecting users with stylist-like services that identify tips and products without the cumbersome process of wasting money on making items that don’t work.
“We’re at an inflection point for connected beauty and fashion, and examining what connectivity will do to enhance consumer experiences,” Balooch said. “More and more, we’re able to give consumers realistic seamless experiences around trying products digitally without having to buy them to try them first.”
The L’Oréal Research and Innovation Technology Incubator was founded by Balooch four years ago as an “agile startup” comprised of a diverse team of designers, technicians and scientists. The venture started with offerings like the Makeup Genius app that allows consumers to test makeup shades from their mobile phone, before transitioning to a wearable patch that tracks UV light exposure and notifies users when they need to apply more sun protection.
“We’re finding ways to create really consumer-centric and beautiful products that can give people information about things that can help them live a better life,” he said.