As highlighted as part of Mintel’s UK Consumer Trend predictions for 2015, wearable technology is fast entering the mainstream, particularly in the areas of health and fitness. According to Mintel’s recent Healthy Lifestyles – UK, 2014 report 31% of UK adults are interested in using a smartwatch with fitness functionality and 40% are interested in wearable devices that track heart rate, blood pressure and movement. However, despite constant innovation in healthcare when it comes to wearable tech, the beauty category remains a fairly untapped market.

A skin-like medical device developed by researchers at the Northwestern University and University of Illinois could change this. The device uses wireless technology and thousands of tiny liquid crystals on a flexible substrate to sense changes in thermal properties of the skin, in order to determine blood flow rate. Whilst developed to detect cardiovascular trouble in the wearer, the technology may have applications in skin care where it can monitor skin hydration levels. Additionally, the device stretches and compresses as the skin moves, making it ideal to wear throughout the day.

31% of UK adults are interested in using a smartwatch with fitness functionality and 40% are interested in wearable devices that track heart rate, blood pressure and movement

As nearly two thirds (64%) of UK consumers used some type of body care product in the last year and 54% of body care users agree that it is important to moisturise regularly, moisturisation is a key driver in the body care category. As well as this, 76% of new launches in the body care category carried moisturising/ hydrating claims in the period January to April 2014. However, consumer data shows that a quarter (26%) of users of body care products wish they had more time to pay attention to their skin, suggesting consumers would benefit from help in the body care category.

As consumers are increasingly leaning towards better habits, beauty brands can respond to this by developing the tools they need to stay on track. Wearable devices that sense when the skin is in need of moisturising, or when it is time to change moisturiser due to changing skin needs, could be a way to help body care users pay more attention to their skin as well as encourage greater frequency of usage.

Skin-like devices can also have the potential to track other changes in the skin, for example odour and perspiration. A device that lets you know if your odour has changed and therefore time to top-up your fragrance or deodorant may appeal to fragrance consumers. Alternatively, wearable technology in beauty can go a step further by incorporating into the beauty product itself. For example, in 2013 a computer scientist in Brazil developed wearable technology in false nails with hidden radio frequency identification tags, hidden beneath polished and decorated nails. The nails could be used to open electric doors or even replace smart cards.

Whether it be nail polish that opens doors, or skincare that tells you to moisturise, there are many opportunities for wearable technology to take a step further into beauty products and the beauty market.

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