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Editor's pick technology

L’Oréal introduces AI skin diagnosis tool deploying user selfies

L’Oréal has unveiled an AI-enabled digital skin diagnosis tool that uses selfies to assess the user’s skin in order to make skincare recommendations tailored to the individual.

The Skinconsult tool deploys AI technology developed by virtual try-on beauty company Modiface combined with L’Oréal’s own research, which includes 6,000 clinical images of men and women across countries such as France, India and China, as well as 4,000 user selfies in different lighting conditions.

“Our mission is beauty for all,” said Lubomira Rochet, chief digital director of the French group, speaking at a press conference for WWD. Rochet added that she believes services will be the new way for users to discover their brands and products, and that this particular system is promoting the “democratization” of skin diagnosis, since all a potential user needs is a smartphone to snap a selfie.

To use the tool, the customer must upload a selfie onto a website, which is then analyzed in terms of areas of strength and improvement using seven different aging variables: under-eye wrinkles, lack of firmness, fine lines, lack of radiance, dark spots, deep wrinkles and pores. The result is a bespoke skincare regime that aims to meet their individual needs.

According to the group’s executives, a typical analysis under this system resulted in the same skin diagnosis as an average of 12 dermatologists. The bespoke result, however, still encourages users to see a specialist regularly.

The new tool was first introduced in January in Canada under L’Oréal’s Vichy brand, and there are plans to further expand it across the brand’s websites worldwide in the future.

The launch is the latest of a series of new services and products that L’Oréal has piloted over the last couple of years as it flexes its muscles as a leader in the beauty tech scene. Its acquisition of Canadian startup Modiface in 2018 has so far also resulted in a long-term AR push that includes virtual beauty consultations through Facebook, while other tech launches include its growing My Skin Track UV sensor range for La Roche Posay, and on-demand personalized serums under skincare brand Skinceuticals.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Podcast technology Uncategorized

L’Oréal on how tech enhances the customer bond

Technology emphasizes the bond of customer experience, says Stephane Lannuzel, operations chief digital officer at L’Oréal, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent Global.

“Every CEO should be consumer-oriented, and technology can reinforce that link,” he explains.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

For years L’Oréal has been on an innovation path that has seen the group heavily invest in technologies that help personalize the consumer experience across the spectrum – from fully customized products to monitoring tools. At the heart of this is the importance of the shopping experience, Lannuzel notes.

He references Lancôme’s custom foundation, Le Teint Particulier, which makes use of a machine expertly mixing a formula to perfectly suit the individual consumer’s skin tone. He explains that at the end of the purchase journey, what consumers remember is not the technology itself, but the fact that they were made to feel special. This, he concludes, is the ultimate luxury experience, only enhanced by the use of tech.

Liz Bacelar and Stephane Lannuzel

There are plenty of challenges to working within such a large organization such as L’Oréal, but part of Lannuzel’s role is to make it move faster. Slowly but surely, the company is thinking digital-first; so much so that the group’s CEO, Jean Paul Agon, has said that digital is no longer the cherry on the cake for the company, but rather the whole cake itself.

The group approaches digital innovation through the lens of key trends as opposed to the technology itself, Lannuzel further explains. This includes looking at how to reduce a product’s time to market; the role of connected products and experiences; more agile operations; and the need for personalization.

During this conversation with TheCurrent Global’s Liz Bacelar, Lannuzel also talks about the huge role data and AI is playing in all of this – from manufacturing to consumer-facing interactions – and why there is a sweet spot when jumping on a new technology.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global, here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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product Retail technology

Ulta and Cosmopolitan team up with Perfect Corp. on virtual try-on at CES 2019

Beauty retailer Ulta and Cosmopolitan magazine are working with beauty software company Perfect Corp. to give consumers virtual try-on experiences, as announced at CES 2019 in Las Vegas this week.

Using Perfect Corp.’s YouCam app, Ulta customers will be able to virtually try on hair colors with the help of an in-store associate as part of its salon service.

“Our partnership with YouCam will give us insight about how augmented reality experiences can complement the services we offer in Ulta Beauty stores,” says Prama Bhatt, Ulta’s svp of digital and ecommerce at Ulta. “This represents a nice merging of physical, digital and emotional experiences.”

Meanwhile, Cosmopolitan is continuing its partnership with YouCam after introducing an AR feature to its print magazines last September where consumers could scan an image of a beauty product to virtually try it on, and proceed to purchase on Macys.com.

“My goal is to deepen the connection between Cosmo and its readers by constantly making our content more responsive to what they’re craving right now,” said Cosmopolitan’s editor in chief, Jessica Pels. “Because of who our audience is — Millennials holding the magazine in one hand and their phone in the other — that means bringing interactivity to our pages through projects like our partnership with YouCam, which brings a virtual try-on experience right into our pages.”

At the show, Perfect Corp. also introduced Beauty 3.0, a new suite of products that includes AI product recommendation and finders, as well as skin diagnostics and the aforementioned hair color matching tool.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product

L’Oréal sells new UV skin sensor exclusively at Apple stores

L'Oréal's My Skin Track UV
L’Oréal’s My Skin Track UV

L’Oréal USA is teaming up with Apple as an exclusive nationwide retail partner for the launch of its new skincare technology device, the My Skin Track UV sensor.

The move marks the first time a beauty company has partnered with Apple retail stores.

“I think that it opens the door for a new consumer market for us, and a new retail environment,” Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oréal’s tech incubator, told Fast Company.

The device is part of the ongoing UV Sense prototype from the beauty group’s La Roche-Posay brand, which launched as a nail patch earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This iteration sees the sensor technology applied onto a battery-free device, which can be clipped onto clothing and accessories with the aim to measure the wearer’s exposure to UV radiation.

Like the nail patch, the device is accompanied by an app that translates that data to the user, making them aware of not only their individual UV exposure but giving them personalized advice on how to keep it at a safe level. It also uses a phone’s location-based data to provide further information about humidity, air quality and pollen in the area.

The My Skin Track UV app will also display data on Apple’s HealthKit, in a further move to educate the consumer on the damages of sun exposure as part of their day-to-day lives. Meanwhile, moving from a nail patch to a clip-on device furthers the groups attempt to also attract the male audience.

At SXSW festival earlier this year, TheCurrent spoke to Balooch on how the group is deploying technology to have more one-to-one relationships with its consumers. Beyond connected devices, from the clip-on to a hairbrush, this strategy also includes new digital tools that aim to bridge the gap between physical and online experiences. Recently, it introduced digital beauty assistants that use AR technology to showcase makeup looks to customers via video chat.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Events technology

Vote for us at SXSW: The future of connected beauty

L'Oréal My UV Patch
L’Oréal My UV Patch

In 2019, TheCurrent will be returning to SXSW in Austin, Texas – but we need your support! Beyond gathering insights and producing events like podcast recordings, we are aiming to host three panels. But we can only get on the official schedule with your vote. And today is your last chance to do so!

One of our panels, “The future of connected beauty”, will look at how digitally native consumers are increasingly relying on technology to meet their ultimate beauty goals, and how brands are catering to that by focusing on delivering efficacy and personalization. The result is a beauty experience that blurs the lines between retail and at-home.

Our CEO Liz Bacelar will be hosting this conversation with Guive Balooch, global VP of the Technology Incubator at L’Oréal, a company that has been a pioneer in the beauty tech space. Together, they will help the audience better understand the beauty consumer’s increasingly digital behaviour, as well as how self-optimisation in beauty is becoming more and more reliant on tech. The audience will also learn about new technologies that aim to deliver highly convenient and personalized experiences, and what the future holds for the beauty industry.

Click to vote
Click to vote

So if you want to see this panel at SXSW 2019, please vote! But be quick, as public voting closes today. Doing so is easy, just login or create a quick PanelPicker® account via panelpicker.sxsw.com. Then find our The future of connected beauty panel and all you have to do is click on the “Vote Up” button in the top lefthand column.

Beauty technology is one of the industry’s most pertinent conversations, as brands develop the tools and services to correspond to their consumer’s high levels of expectation. TheCurrent has been watching this space for years: most recently in May, we interviewed Paul Peros, the former CEO of Foreo, a beauty device company who as of that month was on track to turning over $1bn a year; and in March, we talked to Balooch himself on the future of beauty technology. The beauty industry has also been presenting some of the most interesting innovations at trade shows we attend throughout the year, such as CES in Las Vegas.

Our other panels at SXSW include Blockchain for radical transparency and How streetwear turns hype into $$$. Please vote for them too!

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Editor's pick Podcast product technology

FOREO on driving meaningful innovation in the beauty device market

Paul Peros and Rachel Arthur
Paul Peros and Rachel Arthur

Applying innovation to every aspect of a product or service is at the core of beauty device company FOREO’s strategy, from product design to discoverability and communications, says CEO Paul Peros on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

The Swedish brand entered the market in 2013, when the concept of beauty tech was just beginning to bubble up, and move from the professional salon space to selling at retail. What became clear however was that the company had to strive not only to introduce a new technology into the consumer’s home, but educate them on how that type of product would fit into the context of their lives.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Peros explains that for the the at-home beauty device industry to become truly mainstream, brands need to not only offer efficacy at a professional level, but convenience that matches consumer expectations. He refers to this as “meaningful innovation”.

“You cannot ask a consumer to adopt a completely new practice or new product that stands in [their] way,” he explains. “You cannot have products where the consumer services the product rather than the other way around.”

The brand has engaged directly with consumers from the get-go, which initially started as a necessity as the company lacked the resources to play in the traditional media game. However, it quickly became a vital part of its business model, helping it reach the estimated $1 billion in worldwide sales that it’s expecting to hit in 2018.

“At the end of the day this has become an advantage that helped us not only reach the consumers but to engage with them and learn how to evolve our product range and our communications,” says Peros. At CES in January 2018, for instance, FOREO turned to Kickstarter to launch the UFO, a spaceship-like device that enables consumers to do a facemask in under 90 seconds (as opposed to the typical 15-20 minutes).

Foreo UFO
Foreo UFO

Unlike traditional campaigns on the crowdfunding platform that seek funding as their primary goal, the company saw this as a chance to spend months engaging with the consumer and gathering important feedback before bringing the product to launch.

Doing so has enabled it to drive engagement with a fiercely loyal beauty consumer, leading FOREO to experience exponential growth around the global. The five-year-old company now employs over 3.000 people in 20 offices worldwide.

Also in this episode, Peros talks further about the secret to developing products for a consumer that lives a much faster life, and just how the beauty industry is finally getting the innovation it deserves.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

Bourjois unveils virtual try-on triggered by physical products

Bourjois Magic Mirror
Bourjois Magic Mirror

Coty-owned makeup brand Bourjois has unveiled a new smart mirror experience that enables shoppers to virtually try on make-up simply by picking up a cosmetic product in store.

Available at the brand’s newly relaunched boutique in Paris, the blended reality mirror is said to be an industry first as it integrates physical product – in this case makeup – with the augmented reality experience happening on the screen.

Shoppers can, for instance, pick up a lipstick and the chosen colour will instantly appear on their lips via the smart screen. The connected screen currently features the ‘pick up’ experience with the Rouge Velvet lipstick collection, and shoppers can then complete the digital look via onscreen eye make-up and blush, which is matched to their individual skin tones.

“As part of our desire to reinvent the retail experience through purposeful and personalized innovation, the Bourjois Magic Mirror represents the most extensive integration of physical products and digital content in the beauty industry,” said Elodie Levy, Coty’s global digital innovation senior director.

“Most women intuitively prefer to play with a lipstick rather than touch a screen, as there is an inherent sensual aspect in cosmetics packaging that no technology can replace, and our new Magic Mirror provides this desired experience to shoppers.”

Coty’s innovation comes from research that shows that 72% of consumers want an in-store beauty experience to be a mixture of both physical and digital elements in order to feel more ‘believable’. Moreover, the company believes virtual product try-on solves other retail-related issues such as testers not being available, as well as general hygiene concerns.

To create this experience, Coty worked with London-based digital studio Holition and retail marketing experts Perch. Holition is also responsible for Charlotte Tilbury’s in-store smart mirror, as well as Rimmel London’s makeup filters on Facebook Stories, but what differs in the Bourjois experience from other mirrors, however, is that it is customizable by product, as opposed to previous mirrors that focus on looks. Holition’s FACE software also allows skin tones to be analysed, thus providing a more personalized experience.

The experience is complemented by NY-based Perch’s expertise in the mirror’s form and function, where the smart camera monitors a defined area for activity, and automatically triggers visual content.

On the future of in-store marketing, Perch Interactive CEO Trevor Sumner says it is about blending digital experiences naturally into the shopper journey. “The Bourjois Magic Mirror uses computer vision to sense the most important indication of interest in physical retail – when a shopper touches a product – unlocking an experience that encourages natural pathways of discovery, education and engagement.”

Tapping into the digitally-connected beauty shopper’s need for peer engagement, the mirror also offers three playful filters and a feature that takes selfies, which can either be printed in-store or sent to the customer via email, which links to purchase all trialled items at Bourjois’ online channel.

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Editor's pick technology

5 beauty brands experimenting with customization

Schwarzkopf SalonLab Analyzer
Schwarzkopf SalonLab Analyzer

While thousands of new beauty products hit the shelves every year, 2018 is proving to be the year that customization is really taking hold, incorporating skincare, hair products and cosmetics.

For customers, having bespoke products created just for them to address their individual concerns is becoming more important. As a result, personalization of beauty products is an area where brands seem set to invest.

Here are five examples of those experimenting in the space.

Skinceuticals D.O.S.E laboratory

Skinceuticals DOSE
Skinceuticals DOSE

Debuted at SXSW, L’Oréal’s D.O.S.E acts as a mini skincare laboratory creating custom-made serums. Developed for L’Oréal-owned brand, Skinceuticals, the experience starts with a one-to-one consultation with a professional who can advise on which skincare ingredients would be most beneficial. The information is then transferred to the D.O.S.E machine, which creates the serum in a matter of minutes. This just one of the ways L’Oréal is tapping into customization in the beauty industry – they’ve also launched the L’Oréal Professionel’s Style My Hair app, which suggests real-time hair colour services, and the Le Teint Particulier Unique custom foundation for Lancôme.

Toun28’s subscription skincare

Toun28
Toun28

Korean skincare brand Toun28 is also tackling customization in skincare. The subscription service delivers fresh, organic skincare products to its customers each month wrapped in recyclable paper. While the process is started with an in-person consultation, the bespoke products are created using facial analysis. Once a 28-day cycle is complete, the company also uses its own algorithm to predict the customers needs and keep delivering new product.

Schwarzkopf’s custom hair analysis

It’s not just skincare where advances in customized beauty are being made; Schwarzkopf launched a handheld device during CES that analyzes hair condition and color, and then provides personalized recommendations of products and hair care services. The SalonLab Analyzer uses near infrared spectroscopy and a multi-channel color scanner. While it isn’t intended to replace the expertise of a hair stylist, the technology arms them with the information they need to take the best care of a customer’s hair both in the salon and in between appointments.

Wella Professionals’ Colour DJ

Wella Colour DJ
Wella Colour DJ

Wella Professionals is also exploring customization for hair – it has launched Colour DJ to create an ultra-personalized hair gloss service. Customers have a one-to-one consultation with a stylist and then using a digital application, the Colour DJ device is programmed to create the perfect mask – right down to color intensity, level of care needed and even what scent it should have. The products can be used in the salon and at home so customers are able to maintain their desired color consistently.

Bare Minerals’ Made-2-Fit foundation

Bare Minerals Match-2-Fit
Bare Minerals Match-2-Fit

Customization is also big news for makeup brands. Shiseido-owned Bare Minerals introduced the Made-2-Fit Fresh Faced Foundation, which can be created in bespoke shades to cater to all skin tones. Fronted by an app, powered by MATCHco, it asks users a series of questions to determine an exact color match. Sophisticated technology is then used find the ideal foundation shade that can be delivered to them within 72 hours. As it’s estimated that 94% women are using the wrong shade of foundation, customizable options are proving increasingly relevant and sought after, as demonstrated by numerous other brands including the aforementioned Lancôme, as well as the likes of Sephora.

Want to hear more about the role of customization and tech in the beauty industry? Listen to our podcast with Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal’s Tech Incubator.

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Editor's pick product

L’Oréal provides personalization with launch of on-demand skincare at SXSW

L'Oréal's CUSTOM D.O.S.E
L’Oréal’s CUSTOM D.O.S.E

L’Oréal is honing in on the trend for personalization in beauty with the launch of CUSTOM D.O.S.E at SXSW today, a technological service that can scan and evaluate an individual consumer’s skin and create tailor made serums as a result.

Developed for L’Oréal-owned skincare brand SkinCeuticals, D.O.S.E will act as a personal skincare lab, says Guive Balooch, global VP of the French conglomerate’s Technology Incubator, who worked on the project. “D.O.S.E acts like a mini skincare laboratory, combining lab grade formulation and factory grade manufacturing into a machine that sits on the counter. As we pursue our mission of beauty for all, we are inspired by the challenge of using technology and design to create innovative beauty experiences custom made for each consumer,” he says.

D.O.S.E’s pioneering technology is able to mix active ingredients – chosen to target the appearance of ageing skin, including specific issues such as wrinkles and discoloration – into a single serum. During the production process, a compounder can mix ingredients precisely drop by drop, combining active ingredients that historically were not able to be mixed outside a factory setting. This means skincare professionals can administer individual serums, for which through research L’Oréal has developed dozens of combinations for. To develop the service, the beauty giant researched more than 250 unique skin types.

“Our customers are consistently concerned with skin aging and discoloration, among various skin conditions that require a personalized approach to address them,” said Christina Fair, general manager of SkinCeuticals. “The D.O.S.E technology empowers skincare professionals to co-create personalized formulas that address patients’ unique skincare needs on the spot, in minutes. We’ve created a better ecosystem for them to offer enhanced experiences for their patients using technology to address specific skin concerns.”

The D.O.S.E experience begins with a one-to-one consultation with a professional who can advise the customer on the most relevant active ingredients to suit their skin. Following the assessment, all data is transferred to a D.O.S.E machine that mixes and dispenses the serum ready for use. Bottles are addressed with custom labels that include an expiration date and barcode for reordering.

The March 8 launch, hosted at media platform Fast Company’s Grill house during SXSW, is also showcasing L’Oréal Professionnel’s Style My Hair app, which suggests real-time 3D hair color services, as launched in January this year. Additionally on display is the Lancôme Le Teint Particulier custom blend foundation experience, which similarly to D.O.S.E begins with an expert consultation and ends with a made to measure formula that is blended at point of sale.

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Editor's pick technology

At CES 2018, beauty tech ruled the scene

Foreo's UFO - CES
Foreo’s UFO

CES might have been heavily about automated vehicles and voice technology, but beauty also played a big role in 2018. From skin analysis gadgets to smart mirrors and even a miniature custom laboratory, here is our pick of the best new tech straight from Las Vegas. Note the key theme of personalization throughout.

Neutrogena’s SkinScanner

Neutrogena's Skin Scanner - CES
Neutrogena’s SkinScanner

Neutrogena unveiled a device called SkinScanner – a small gadget that attaches to your iPhone and uses sensors to analyse your skin. All users do is press it right onto their faces to capture a series of images. In an app called Skin360, they are then able to see the health of their skin over time, analyzing moisture levels, wrinkles, and pore size.

Created with a New York-based company called Fitskin, the device uses 12 LED lights and a 30x magnification lens to capture incredibly close-up images. The app meanwhile uses machine learning to compare skin health with others in the same age range. For poor skin health, users are directed to the Neutrogena store.

L'Oréal's UV Sense
L’Oréal’s UV Sense

L’Oréal’s UV Sense

L’Oréal unveiled a battery-free wearable electronic that provides consumers with individual information of their ultraviolet (UV) exposure through a small design worn on the nail. UV Sense, as it’s called, will launch for dermatological skincare brand La Roche-Posay this summer.

The launch follows the first stretchable skin sensor measuring UV exposure from the group unveiled at CES in 2016, called My UV Patch. This new one is less than two millimeters thick, nine millimeters in diameter and designed to be worn for up to two weeks on the thumbnail. It can also store up to three months of data.

Foreo’s UFO

Foreo's UFO - CES
Foreo’s UFO

Swedish brand Foreo launched its UFO smart mask, an at-home treatment device combining LED light therapy with cryo-therapy, thermo-therapy and T-Sonic pulsations, all activated via your smartphone in 90-seconds. This comes off the back of “face masks”being the number one searched term within the beauty category on Google in 2017.

The device has been in development for four years and is now available to pre-order in partnership with crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

HiMirror

Beauty tech brand HiMirror released its voice-interactive smart mirror, for which it was named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree. The HiMirror Mini offers in-depth, personalized skincare analysis based on the evolving conditions of the skin, local weather conditions and more. As with the Neutrogena SkinScanner, it records the user’s skin overtime, tracking goals and the results of products used.

It is equipped with Amazon Alexa-enabled features, as well as facial and voice recognition account access. It even reminds users of product expirations and features an entertainment center consisting of current news stories, music, ambient make-up lighting, video tutorials and a virtual make-up feature. It will be available in the US in late summer 2018.

Kohler’s Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror

Another voice-activated mirror came from Kohler. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which retails for $999, is equipped with Amazon Alexa to allow users to control light setting to give them a better make-up application or grooming experience. In fact, you get all of the functionality of Alexa, including weather updates, shopping, playing music, receiving traffic alerts and more.

The device also works as a motion-activated night light, meaning it automatically brightens to a comfortable level for hand washing.

Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory

Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory - CES
Romy Paris’ Miniaturized Laboratory

Romy Paris introduced a “miniaturized laboratory” that creates a personalized skincare serum for users every day. The cosmetic formulator uses technology similar to the cold exaction used in a juicer, reportedly, to create the right combination of ingredients for your skin. 

A beauty coaching app meanwhile takes the users’ environment, activities and sleep habits into consideration. The idea is that just as you don’t eat the same food every day, your skin needs different nutrients dependent to best suit its condition and surrounds. A multi-user mode makes the $800 device able to create custom serums for different people in the household.

Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab Analyzer

Schwarzkopf launched a handheld device that measures hair condition as well as hair color to provide hyper-personalized recommendations on products and services.

The SalonLab Analyzer uses near infrared spectroscopy and a multi-channel color scanner to read the hair. The system is also accompanied by an augmented reality app that enables users to then try on different hair colors.