PARIS – Will the young women of 2033 laugh when they learn that their mothers chose their foundation and makeup by themselves? Without a microscope or a telephone?
This is what Givenchy is betting on. The French luxury cosmetics company just launched its first Spectrocolorimeter in three of its Paris stores. Developed by X-Rite, the device is a sort of smartphone-like scanner that analyzes skin tone to assign the ideal pigment for each person’s skin.
Givenchy is not the first company to try the X-Rite Spectrocolorimeter, French cosmetics giant Sephora installed them in some of their U.S. stores in July 2012, and the French stores will follow suit this June. Called Color IQ in the U.S. and Color Profile in France, it matches skin tones to an official Pantone number, which can then assign specific foundations, brands and formulas.
In June, Dior, which like Sephora and Givenchy is owned by the LVMH group, will also install their own device in department stores. A sort of “skin tone iPhone” that measures precisely the different degrees of face pigmentation. The idea is to be able to assign a foundation that will become one with the skin.
“The evolution of all things digital, the fact that people are always on the go, always needing advice, all the time and everywhere, on smartphones and tablets, has incited brands to offer new propositions,” says Marie Gulin, international director of communications and digital at L’Oréal Paris.
“This is why we created free apps like the Hair Color Genius, for home hair coloring, which assigns a color after you take a photo of your hair. There is also Color Genius, which recommends makeup after you take a photo of your outfit,” says Gulin.
Source: L'Oréal Color Genius
In June, the brand will launch Skin Genius in China, an application that goes even further. The new concept: taking into account the weather forecast (UV radiation, humidity, temperature), personal details (mood, number of cigarettes smoked, hours spent in front of the computer or in public transportation), and a photograph of the skin in order to assign the ideal beauty ritual. A “pocket dermatologist,” who can even – if the user agrees – connect to Chinese microblogging site Weibo to analyze the user’s profile.
“Asians, especially the Japanese, love these gadgets,” says Florence Bernardin, creator of Information & Inspiration, a company that lists beauty innovations in Asia. “Today, many of them use the Beauty Cam app, which takes photos of their skin, blows it up 30x and then puts it online on a social network so users can compare their skin with other users,” says Bernardin.
Obsessed with skin temperature, something that they believe is crucial to help them anticipate any inflammation of the skin, they also use many apps that suggest the right combination of skin care depending on the weather and their menstrual cycle.
“We are thinking about new ways to map the genetic characteristics of skin types,” says Edouard Mauvais-Jarvis, director of scientific communication at Dior. “Today, a chip that analyzes a genome costs $1000 dollars, but prices will eventually fall. Nevertheless, an ultra sharp diagnostic is only useful if you can get tailored advice.”
Nothing stops connectivity in Japan. “There is a weighing scale that, in addition to measuring body fat, also calculates the type and amount of exercise and diet needed to eliminate weight gain – all of which is connected to the phone or computer. This scale, developed by Tanita, is so successful that the company has opened health-food stores,” says Bernardin.
Amusing or disturbing, tailor-made beauty and wellbeing is still in the stages of infancy. In 2010, Sephora, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary, presented its futuristic concept store, directly inspired by the movie Minority Report. “Today, with a loyalty card and the MySephora app, customers can access a list of products that are targeted according to past purchases,” says Elizabeth Anglès d’Auriac, Sephora’s director of European marketing.
“In the future, if the customer agrees, they will only need to walk past a store with a card in their pocket for a hologram projection of new products to display on the storefront,” says Gulin. There is of course a personal data storage and usage issue. “We are closely monitoring privacy rights issues,” assures Gulin.