Recent Technological Advances and Developments within the Beauty Industry

This is working towards objective 1.

Whilst initially planning and outlining the contents and structure for my Professional Context presentation, I decided that I would talk about recent developments in technologies within the Beauty Industries, and how this relates to my practice, self-development and research question. This particular blog post will cover the topic of ‘makeup’ apps.

I find that in today’s conformist and consumerist society, we are becoming much more influenced by beauty brands due to new innovative and instantly accessible social channels lending themselves to various forms of visual marketing and advertising. Adverts and campaigns are not only seen in magazines and store windows anymore models, bloggers/bloggers, influencers and associative brands are taking over and using social media, application design and UX/UI to their advantage, creating an engaging and empowering platform for end-users to work and engage with. Whilst the noted technologies are still quite new, and are constantly being trailed, tested and improved, organisations are still rapidly competing and are continually researching, learning and developing new digital processes and techniques, in order to create the best and most up-to date apps, with the most advanced features. This allows for brands and their associative applications to gain the best number of sales and active users, therefore gaining brand influence, engagement, loyalty and power within a world of consumer culture.

Researching further into this, I found several ‘beautifying’ apps which can transform, change or manipulate your appearance in different ways, each of which target different audiences and needs, and therefore use different technologies and use different ‘features’. However, I am also interested in how these applications and new technologies can be damaging to our self-perception, and in return, how we are perceived. I found this particularly relevant in regards to the Beauty Plus app and how this is used heavily by a Japanese and Chinese audience, in an aim to Westernising their looks through lightening their skin, widening their eyes and elongating their legs for example. These are all topics of discussion and promotion which were also found in the July 2016 edition of Vogue Japan ‘Health and Beauty Special’ – please see scanned in images below for reference of this. I was also surprised to see International brands such as Clarins conforming to such trends and releasing its own skin-lightening product – again please see scanned in images below for reference.

I feel these applications really show the advances in technology within this industry and how it is being used by brands around the world to their advantage whether to promote a product, increase consumer loyalty or make-up a digital element of a larger campaign, but again allows for a negative in retrospect in regards to the way we can edit our appearance digitally so easily and instantaneously, creating flawless looks which may not be so easily achievable in real-life and again promoting celebrity culture and the standardisation of what beauty should be on a cross-cultural scale. The beauty boom in Asia has also been noted through the popularity of the Chinese edition of the L’Oreal Makeup Genuis app, as evidenced in the article noted below. China have proved through their various user-interaction based marketing mediums that engaging with the consumer is a proven winner for promoting new products whilst promoting and exposing new found uses of technologies within a relevant context.

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In a nut shell, the idea of these new technologies allows us to edit our pre-existing photographs or edit our appearance in real-time (depending on the chosen app) in order to look “flawless”. But regardless of technologies, the pressure to look like the ‘final look’ and take a “flawless” selfie, can really add to the pressure of looking a certain way and maintaining a certain ‘standard’ of image. What happens if we cannot maintain these ‘looks’? What if we cannot recreate that “flawless” look ourselves? How do these technologies add to the debates amongst body image and self-perception within a world which is becoming more narcissistic, controlling and standardised? How does Western culture influence body image and self-perception in other countries due to the accessibility of celebrity culture, bloggers/vloggers, social media and the idea of the standardisation of beauty?

Below shows four different examples of these new technologies in context of Celebrity Culture, Consumer Trends, Brand Engagement and User Interaction. Along with imagery are small articles or quotes further describing the technologies and formalities of each.

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“There’s something scary about trying on makeup at the drugstore: what if you apply a new blush to your face, just to try it out, and then you walk out looking several shades too dark? That classifies as an actual beauty disaster, and is something none of us want to experience—and now, thanks to the makeup geniuses at L’Oreal, we don’t have to!

The beauty brand just launched an app that allows you to try on makeup without actually trying on makeup, right from the comfort of your home—or wherever you and your smart phone happen to be. The thing that separates the L’Oreal app from all the other makeover apps already on the market is that this is the first of its kind that actually allows you to apply lipstick, eye liner, eye shadow, and blush to yourself, as opposed to a mannequin-esque face that’s meant to resemble your own.

You scan your face using the front-facing camera on your iPhone—yes, the same way you take a #selfie—and the app’s technology reads everything from your face shape to your expressions. You then can begin applying L’Oreal makeup digitally to your own face in real time, watching the makeup you put on move as your face does.

The app took over 10 years to develop and uses the same technology that transformed Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which won Oscars for both makeup and visual effects. It essentially turns your phone into a mirror, allowing you to see what you really look like with certain shades of (for instance) bronzer, eyeliner, and lipstick.

The app will also launch in select drugstores on tablets, where you can play around with makeup and then buy it right after.”
Who What Wear (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis – China Edition
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“China has been a massive market for the app, bringing 4.7 million of its total 14 million downloads. That’s partly because of the size of the country’s internet population: 668 million people, with 594 million of those going online with mobile devices, according to official figures from the China Internet Network Information Center. And it’s also because it allows curious young women to try out heavier makeup, which is still uncommon in China.

“Girls in China can be shy to apply makeup if they are at the counter or if they are going out with friends — they don’t want to put on very dark lipstick, very dark eye shadow,” said Asmita Dubey, chief marketing officer for L’Oréal China.

“There’s no culture of makeup passed down from mom to daughter that has been there for years, so for a girl like that to get a virtual experience and try some new looks, that’s something she wants to do,” said Ms. Dubey, honored as one of Ad Age’s 2015 Women to Watch China for promoting innovations in mobile marketing for China’s No. 1 skin-care player and second-biggest advertiser.”

Further Digital Initiatives from L’Oreal:

Shake the smartphone: L’Oréal’s Maybelline brand sponsors a TV makeover show called “Cinderella.” It appears on traditional Chinese state television, CCTV, but it got a digital and mobile boost through a partnership with Tencent, the Chinese internet giant. During the show, people saw a message on the screen telling them to shake their smartphones. When they followed through, a page would pop up on their phones offering a tutorial video of the makeover looks people saw on the screen.

WeChat ads: Tencent’s ubiquitous mobile app WeChat had been mostly ad-free until this year, when sponsored messages started popping up on people’s newsfeeds. During the Cannes Film Festival in May, people who clicked on a picture of L’Oréal brand ambassador Fan Bing Bing opened a video with the Chinese megastar actress inviting them to virtually join her at Cannes. Many started following L’Oréal on WeChat, got updates on her looks at the festival and bought products via smartphone.
“Mobile social commerce apps is exactly where beauty is going,” Ms. Dubey said.

User-generated content: In China, online product reviews are a prevalent form of user-generated content – people devote a lot of energy to writing about products and taking pictures and videos of them. Tapping into that, L’Oréal’s Lancome has Rose Beauty, a social platform aggregating product reviews from users.

It offers tutorials, product info and samples so people can post their own videos of trying products out. “It becomes your product review platform, your community platform, your beauty platform,” Ms. Dubey said. And it links back to e-commerce, of course.
AdAge (Last accessed 2/12/16)

virtual-makeover-v2Rimmel Get The Look App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“The first beauty app that lets you snap any look and try it on live! SNAP – Take a picture of a makeup look in a magazine or from a real person, TRY – Try her look virtually live in the app, SHARE – Share your look with friends, BUY – Buy any product from the app”
Rimmel (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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BeautyPlus – Makeup Camera App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“BeautyPlus has worked with well-known makeup artists, photographers and real people just like you to develop the perfect photo retouch app – a tool that is easy to use and gives flawless results.”
– BeautyPlus (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“We have over 900 million users around the world, Meitu is a leading leading beauty and lifestyle app developer as well as a global innovator in mobile video and photography, including proprietary facial recognition and virtual “try-on” technologies for makeup, hair and fashion.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

BeautyPlus is created by, Meitu whom are currently “seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries … At Meitu, we are obsessed with beauty, makeup and fashion. We are always looking for new ways to leverage our technology to help consumers discover new looks and shape their own styles. We are currently seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. We can provide a unique, immersive and culturally relevant way for brands to connect with female consumers all around the world.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“Meitu’s photo and video apps have over 270 million monthly users1.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)