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Putting the ‘personalised’ into personal care


A review of the advances and some current technologies deployed by large beauty brands to appeal to today’s consumers’ by delivering a deeper level of personalisation, both in terms of the product itself, and how the consumer experiences the product.

Beauty is rapidly moving away from being a one-size-fits-all industry. It is no longer about living up to someone else’s pre-conceived image of ‘ideal’, it is about self-expression and finding products that enable consumers to be the best version of themselves. So-called “inclusive beauty” also ensures that previously underserved demographics are catered for. Advances in technology are undoubtedly driving this beauty revolution. Smartphones, wearables and proprietary diagnostic devices generate a wealth of data which increase consumer understanding of their body, skin and hair. Consumers have unique requirements are therefore seek products tailored to their individual needs, lifestyles and identities. The traditional approaches of in-store product recommendations and styling services are no longer enough to remain relevant. To appeal to today’s consumers’ brands must deliver a deeper level of personalisation, both in terms of the product itself, and how the consumer experiences the product.

Over a number of years there has been a growing trend towards ecommerce, particularly amongst millennials and Gen-Z. The use of online retail has further intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic with many beauty outlets closing and others seeing a marked reduction in customer traffic. This creates issues for brands who have relied primarily on human engagement to deliver a “personal touch”. New technologies and strategies to deliver tailored advice and ‘try before you buy’ services are emerging and, if utilised effectively, can offer advantages to both the consumer and the brand. For example, in 2016 Olay addressed declining sales by launching Olay Skin Advisor, a web-based AI-powered tool designed to help consumers identify the best products for them . By 2018 Skin Advisor had attracted 5 million visitors and purchase basket-size had increased 30%. Taking a different approach, L’Oreal launched an AR make-up tool to ‘recreate the experience of visiting a make-up counter’ . Through the NYX app, consumers can access one-to-one advice and styling tips from beauty professionals, try on hundreds of cosmetics and shades, and share images on social media to gain feedback from friends. Such innovations have helped increase L’Oreal’s eCommerce sales by 49% .


It’s not just women seeking personalised beauty support, a recent study found that 40% of male consumers struggle to work out what products are best for them . Geologie launched with the aim of simplifying the purchasing process by offering men a personalised skincare regime based upon answers to a diagnostic questionnaire. By combining this with a subscription service, they offer greater convenience to consumers (‘get what you want, when you want it’) whilst increasing customer lifetime value and encouraging brand loyalty.

More recently, the industry is seeing a growing demand for ‘hyper-personalisation’, or personalisation at the individual level, and this in turn is driving innovation in dosage, formulation and application technologies. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson unveiled Neutrogena MaskiD – a service which will offer 3D-printed custom masks designed to fit an individual’s face shape and target specific areas with different formulations of ingredients . If a consumer owns the Neutrogena Skin360, a smartphone enabled device equipped with a magnifying camera, they can scan their face and generate up to date skin condition data to inform mask design.

Earlier this year P&G launched their Opte Precision Skincare System. The device uses a digital camera with a blue LED light to take up to 200 pictures a second of your skin. Then, using a patented precision skincare algorithm, it can analyse your complexion, detect problem areas, and selectively apply an ‘optimizing serum’ to instantly camouflage age spots, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation. The high precision wand is designed to deposit one billionth of a litre of makeup or serum on each skin spot it detects. Retailing at $599, Opte isn’t designed with the mass market in mind, but offers P&G an opportunity to differentiate and promote authority in the beauty device space. Some brands are taking things one step further and are offering products tailored to your skin’s genetic make up. Rationale, a cult skincare brand in Australia collect DNA via a cheek-swab to assess susceptibility to issues including sun damage and rosacea and develop a tailored skincare treatment plan . Whilst this also remains a niche offering at present, there are claims within the industry that DNA-based skincare will be a significant part of personalised beauty in the future.



The technology underpinning personalised beauty continues to evolve and is driving growth at an unprecedented rate. For established brands, personalisation represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Finding new ways to engage with consumers and secure brand loyalty is not straightforward, but it is essential to win in the marketplace and avoid disruption by more innovative and agile players. Harnessing the power of AI, AR and big data will enable brands not only to reach consumers in new ways, but engage them in the development and marketing of new products, and in building the brand. However, this is no mean feat and learnings from current market successes indicate that collaborative innovation will be important. Through partnerships with start-ups, device developers, contract manufacturers and retailers, brands are able to take seemingly futuristic technologies and turn them into everyday realities, offering consumers the level of personalisation they now demand. Personalisation is a huge opportunity space for small and large companies alike, and a failure to capitalize could see more forward-thinking competitors and innovative new entrants take greater market share. Either way, personalised beauty is here to stay and will be exciting space to watch over the coming years.

Personalised beauty – how we can help your business succeed?

Over many years, Strategic Allies Ltd (SAL) has helped clients develop solutions for personalised beauty. From identifying start-ups and strategic partners, to discovering and appraising novel technologies, we have the skills and experience needed to address your critical innovation challenges and help you win in this complex market. Some examples of past work include:

• The identification and appraisal of novel dispensing and application devices that could support at home use of personalised beauty products

• A critical review of technologies relevant to the ‘at-home diagnostics’ space, including an evaluation of solutions from adjacent industries, which could enable consumers to self-assess hair / skin health

• An evaluation of strategic partners (start ups and SMEs) developing digital tools for consumer interaction and service provision relevant to personalized beauty, and brokering relationships with the most promising candidates

To hear more examples, or to discuss your personalised beauty challenges with us, please get in touch with us on 01442 800565 or contact John at Strategic Allies Ltd on 07974 403530, or via john@strategicallies.co.uk.

Author – Helen Peachey – Strategic Allies Ltd.