By Rebecca Hitchon
These days, there’s not much that doesn’t lend itself to personalisation. Take a look at your social media feeds and it’s not hard to see how your individual interests are recognised. The same is true with apps for TV and music, and that’s before we’ve mentioned all the non-digital products that satisfy our individual needs more than ever. So while the beauty industry may be late to the personalisation party, it’s no surprise that they’re there or that it’s a thriving sector.
“Personalisation has become the new staple for all industries,” says Emmanuelle Moeglin, founder of Experimental Perfume Club, a London vegan perfume house that offers bespoke fragrance creation workshops. “Consumers are increasingly used to getting services and products that are suited to their personal needs and lifestyle. Beauty is highly personal with most of us wanting products that perfectly match our taste, hair and skin needs and lifestyle.”
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Moeglin’s idea to bring perfume into the world of personalised beauty was a no brainer. “We saw that our visitors were really interested to learn the craft but also with some guidance, naturally inclined to create a perfume from scratch that [is] completely personal,” she says. After all, perfume has always been one of the most subjective beauty products out there.
Yet with mainstream perfumes seeming like an expensive luxury to many, let alone a bespoke fragrance with an even bigger price tag, accessibility is one of the largest issues this new beauty sector has to tackle – in perfumery and beyond. It’s something that Experimental Perfume Club has taken into account, reducing the price of personalised perfume from tens of thousands of pounds and offering their fragrance creation experiences from £135.
But there’s no doubt that we are more willing to pay extra for products that address our personal needs. According to Forbes, 77% of us will pick, recommend and pay more for brands that provide bespoke products or experiences. However, personalised beauty isn’t enough on its own. Other factors come into play for a custom business to achieve success. We just aren’t going to hand out more of the contents of our purse to a brand we cannot rely on to provide beneficial, long-term results.
Trusting bespoke beauty
As an emerging sector, trust is a big component that bespoke beauty is reliant on anyway. It’s easy for doubts to arise about the effectiveness of customised products when 1) these brands are so new, and 2) there is no physical contact involved to evaluate our individual beauty needs.
The current technological offering to understand our beauty needs is exciting, don’t get me wrong. Neutrogena launched their own face-scanning app to track your skin’s health and give personal recommendations. Elsewhere, popular personalised brand Function of Beauty asks you to take skin, hair and body quizzes to customise their products. But technology is a fast-developing area so we can expect the possibilities for customisable beauty to only advance more in future.
Skin microbiome testing
One of the most innovative methods set to dominate bespoke beauty and skincare is skin microbiome testing, of which Skin Trust Club is a specialist. The company sends you a kit to swab your cheek surface. This tells their scientists about your skin microbiome, which is an indicator of your skin’s health.
Just like your gut microbiome, your skin microbiome is made up of millions of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Although these words may make us think of illness, we need some bacteria to keep our health on track. When the skin microbiome is unbalanced in terms of ‘good’ bacteria, our skin becomes more vulnerable and liable to infection and conditions like acne and psoriasis. Once your swab is at Skin Trust Club’s labs, you can sync your results with their app and receive suggestions of personalised skincare routines and cruelty-free brands suiting your skin type and microbiome.
With experts running brands like Skin Trust Club there isn’t much not to trust when it comes to the long-term benefits of bespoke beauty. Take shopping for skincare on a normal basis. Most products are designed with five skin types in mind: normal (although seriously, what is normal?), dry, oily, sensitive and combination. How can we commit to a skincare routine based on one label when our skin is so much more varied?
Helping skin conditions
An expert having a proper understanding of your skin is not only a gamechanger for the beauty industry but also for you, particularly if you have a skin condition. Skin + Me is a personalised skincare brand that understands this. Run by a team of dermatologists, the company’s blend of medical science with personalisation has seen them receive rave reviews for changing people’s lives through their customised treatment plans. “I wake up with a reason to want to look in the mirror which honestly used to be dread,” says one review on their website.
I’m sure we can all think of a time when bad skin has been a direct downer on our confidence. But for those with problematic skin 24/7, bespoke skincare solutions can clearly make all the difference, without the hassle of spending years trialling treatments.
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Sustainability benefits of bespoke beauty
With a beauty routine that we know is personally beneficial and no need to trial a million different products or treatments, our reduced consumption helps the planet. Of course, brands have to do their bit too. Experimental Perfume Club is setting a positive example. The custom perfume company’s refill service allows each full size perfume bottle to be returned and refilled for half the price, and plastic use is kept to a minimum.
“The fragrance industry is one of the few industries lagging behind in terms of sustainability, with incredibly few brands offering refill services. Most beauty and fragrance brands systematically cellowrap their boxes too,” explains Emmanuelle. “We wanted to bring an experience that is fun and interesting but doing so in ways where we can reduce waste, packaging and the use of plastic.”
Look into the other brands we’ve mentioned and there are similar commitments, particularly concerning plastic packaging. Take Skin + Me, who chose to design their cream dispenser using infinitely recyclable aluminium to avoid the alternative: excessive plastic. Their outer packaging is minimal, to decrease their carbon footprint, and fully recyclable too.
This is vital when the global beauty industry produces billions of units of non-recyclable plastic packaging annually. In 2017, it produced nearly 77 billion plastic units and there’s no doubt this has increased four years later. When you’re part of beauty innovations for the future, you are responsible for making this future sustainable and there seems to be an awareness within the personalised beauty world that this is the case.
Bespoke beauty is undeniably an area with so much promise. Right now it may be a new sector of the beauty industry, but as more brands get involved and as technology develops, I think we can expect it to become the norm. Because if you can have the best possible beauty routine for you, why would you go back?