L’Oréal’s Tech Incubator showcases sustainability and personalization at CES

On Monday during the annual CES showcase, L’Oréal USA further committed itself to sustainability through the debut of a water-saving sink for salons.

Launched through the L’Oréal Technology Incubator, the sink, called “Water Saver,” works by minimizing water droplets while simultaneously increasing their velocity. The water essentially maintains the same water pressure while ejecting less of it. L’Oréal said it will reduce a salon’s water usage by 80%. It was developed in partnership with Swiss environmental company Gjosa.

Guive Balooch, L’Oréal Technology Incubator head, said the goal is to roll the sink out to 10,000 salons by 2022, which after a year, will equate to reduced salon water consumption by 1 billion gallons. It has already begun to debut; it’s currently in three New York City-based salons.

“It’s a very strategic moment for us to launch sustainability [focused] beauty tech,” said Balooch. “The salons are the first place where we should start with this [water saving technology]. In the salon, you can have 3-5 back bar sinks, on average, and they’re using so much water every day.”

Water Saver can also infuse into the water up to three hair products from the L’Oréal Professional and Kerastase brands, eliminating the extra need for shampooing and conditioning a client’s hair. An accompanying connected app informs salon owners how much water they have used and saved, and how much money they have saved. According to multiple industry sources, utility bills for salons can run anywhere from $640 to $4,000 per month, depending on the size and location of the business. Matt Danna, CEO of salon booking platform Boulevard, said utilities can account for 1-2% of a salon’s revenue.

“We’re seeing a growing trend of ‘green’ and ‘eco-chic’ salons,” said Danna. “Stylists are aware that sustainability is something that’s important to clients, but it’s important to have enough water power to fully remove any chemicals from hair and provide that two-minute shampoo experience that clients look forward to.”

The global L’Oréal Group has tackled strong initiatives toward sustainability, recently updating its 10-year commitments in June with an emphasis on carbon emissions in its supply chain, water reduction and biodiversity.

Specifics surrounding the go-to-market strategy for Water Saver, including pricing, are forthcoming. In mid-2022, L’Oréal will also launch an at-home shower head, which will come with its own at-home hair formulas that can be infused into the water.

“Conserving water is very important in our industry, and the more responsibility we can take to save water, the better it is on our environment as well as salons’ annual [spend]. Being able to save 80% of water [use] in a salon is a no-brainer, and every salon should make these changes,” said  J.C Aucamp, co-founder of salon-waste recycling program Salon Sustainability.

Separately, L’Oréal also announced that last year’s CES device, Perso, will now debut in the second quarter of 2021 through YSL Beauty. The personalized beauty device, which dispenses a single-use product, was first meant to launch with skin care, but will instead launch with the brand’s lipsticks. A Perso skin-care device with an undetermined L’Oréal brand will launch in the second half of 2021, Balooch said.

YSL Beauty does have a history of using technology like augmented reality, and it opened an AI-powered pop-up store in China in Sept. 2020. But it does not have a history of working with devices. L’Oréal’s only dedicated device brand, Clarisonic, went out of business in Sept. 2020 after struggling with sales and changing attitudes toward skin care. YSL Beauty declined to comment. Balooch said other portfolio brands may launch their own versions of Perso, however, the underlying software will be the same.

Priced at $299, Perso can dispense over 5,000 shades of lipstick using an AI-powered app that can color match, provide recommendations, and allow people to post and share their own lipstick shades. Balooch said that the hope is that users of Perso could turn into influencers and micro-influencers within the app by gaining followers through their sharing of the shades they develop.

“Our dream for this project is to give people the ability to showcase to the world what they want and believe is the most beautiful shade of lipstick. It’s about being able to have access to a trend without having to buy hundreds of products, and it’s about connection and creativity,” said Balooch.

Image courtesy of L’Oréal.

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