The beauty world is being hot-wired by Kinetique – Mintel Beauty and Personal Care’s top trend for 2012 that sees electricity and energy sparking innovation in new beauty devices and products. Of course, scent and texture still matter in a moisturiser. But it is hard to resist the promise that technology brings, especially when it is giving our beauty routines more power and even better results.

Beauty industry trend: Devices East v West

In the West, there’s a new generation of beauty devices that harness energy and electricity to give us fewer lines and spots, smoother skin and a more radiant complexion.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc. has just secured a patent for a new acne treatment device based on galvanic current. This same technology is found in NuSkin’s highly successful AgeLOC Galvanic Body Spa, now being rolled out to Europe and the South Pacific.

Meanwhile in Asia, the trend for powered beauty devices is known as “moba beau”. One of the sleekest and chic-est is Panasonic and Shiseido’s Ultrasonic Handy Mist. It comes in silver or pink and has a refillable cartridge that converts serums into a micro-fine mist that hydrates and energises the skin.

Self-diagnostic devices for teeth, hair and skin are also creating a buzz in Asia. One of the newest from Japan is the Skin Magni-Checker, a hand held digital microscope that snaps detailed photos of the skin. Images are uploaded to a computer so users can check melanin patches, wrinkles and blemishes and track progress of their skincare product routine at home. This trend is set to move beyond Asia as Western beauty giants like L’Oreal, P&G and Beiersdorf launch similar skin diagnostic devices.

Both device trends are now converging in Europe, where for the moment, interest in beauty devices is still low, especially in the UK, France and Germany. More than two thirds of women in these countries say they’re unlikely to buy beauty devices for home use. Women in Italy and Spain are more plugged in to this trend. They show a preference for hair removal, anti-cellulite and deep pore cleansing devices for home use. This is partly climate-driven but also cultural since Southern European women are more likely to be familiar with these technologies from regular salon visits. European manufacturers such as Philips and Filorga are now developing innovative laser- and LED-based solutions for anti-ageing in anticipation of consumer demand.

Beauty industry trend: Plugged-in at point of sale

Connectivity in-store is increasing as beauty retailers and brands crank up the level of interactivity between virtual and real worlds. There is growing use of tablets and screens at point-of-sale to personalise the in-store experience. Masstige Korean brands in Myeongdong, Seoul were some of the first to adopt screens and video on shelves while in the US and Europe Clinique has deployed ipads for client consultations in-store. In the US, RiteAid is trialling an in-store kiosk that performs anonymous video analytics to determine the age and gender of customers standing in front of it. The 3D Reward Centre then dispenses vouchers and customised promotions.

On their department store counters, Lancome, Amore Pacific and Ioma are using computer diagnostic tools to help advise consumers on relevant skincare products.

Beauty industry trend: Wired beauty packaging

The Kinetique trend also takes in sound and video, which are increasingly incorporated into beauty packaging. For example, Urban Decay took Stila’s Talking Palette (2007) a step further with its latest Book of Shadows Volume IV. This high tech palette has built-in speakers and a USB port. Users can scan the on-pack QR code to download makeup tutorial videos or play music while they’re getting ready to go out.

Another aspect of this trend looks more closely at ingredients that harness or boost cellular energy, such as sugar and oxygen. YSL’s Forever Youth Liberator is powered by glycobiology, Nobel-prize winning research into the role that glycans play in skin regeneration. The active complex in the products is based on rhamnose, a plant-derived sugar. Cheeky French men’s brand Nickel offers a more literal interpretation of electric energy with its Electro Shock Fatigue Fighting Concentrate. Based on lime and cane sugar, this post-party skin repair product claims to instantly awaken the face to cope with a day of work.

New pulling power

As crackle nail finishes loses their fizz, magnets and static electricity are taking over as the hottest way to get creative with our talons. Pupa’s Magnetic Nail Art Kit uses a magnet to create stripe-y designs while Nail’s Inc’s Magnetic Nail Polish forms a secret pattern on the nails.

Positive and negative charges also add function to beauty and grooming products by improving the delivery of ingredients. Ions are used to open the cell pathways and allow actives to penetrate deeper into the skin.

What’s Next: Kinetique will go green

Kinetic energy is already being exploited to charge wheelie suitcases and light up dance floors. We’ve even seen the first solar-chargeable beauty palette from Stila. As consumers become more conscious of energy consumption, beauty brands will look more closely at the environmental implications of their devices. Those that promote more efficient energy usage or are powered by alternative energy will have an edge with green consumers.

Likewise, as consumers seek time off from their tablets, phones and computers, there could be a potential knock-on effect on beauty devices. Besides the high prices of many devices, consumers have to contend with limited storage space at home and remembering to bring (another!) charger when they travel. These considerations might hinder uptake of beauty devices. Or they may even spur consumers to switch back to simpler, more traditional non-electric beauty solutions. This pendulum-swing against machines would herald a resurgence in non-gadget based beauty rituals at home and give spa brands an extra push. It could also drive consumers back to medispas and clinics for professional expertise.

For more information about Mintel Beauty & Personal Care please visit the Mintel Beauty & Personal Care website or email beauty@mintel.com

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