Programmable beauty to enable next-gen personalization, a proposal

Read the full article in the June 2022 digital edition. .

Personalized Beauty seeks to provide the ultimate solution to a beauty consumer’s needs. Although the concept has been around for several years, it has not caught on significantly and is continually an “emerging trend”. Why is this so? Beyond customizing simple variables such as scent or color, a personalized product should deliver noticeably superior results in terms of what the customer wants. Therein lies the problem: predicting what the customer wants.

Beauty needs are subjective, which makes them difficult to interpret. Attempts are being made to capture these needs by using questionnaires to ask consumers about their beauty concerns. Take hair, for example. Concerns expressed may include damaged hair, dry hair, frizzy hair, desire for volume, oily scalp, dandruff, etc., all of which are subject to interpretation by both the consumer and the product developer.

This means that a solution is created to meet what the consumer think he or she needs. Once they try it, however, it may not produce the desired effect. For example, a consumer may indicate that they need a solution for voluminous hair, but upon use it is discovered that they just wanted the feel of a higher concentration of silicone. So it’s not a question of formula optimization, but rather the reality of understanding what the consumer wants.

Another challenge is determining the right ingredients and concentrations to create the desired effects, which becomes more complex as more effects are added, especially since the ingredients used can work against each other. For example, an ingredient to coat the hair to reduce frizz could also weigh the hair down, decreasing the volume.

It is therefore not only a question of understanding what the consumer wants, but also the order in which he prioritizes his beauty concerns. And these priorities often change. Therefore, the custom solution may require reformulation after the customer has experienced the product. This can be expensive and often discourages restocking rates.

Given these challenges, we propose here an approach to personalization that the author describes as programmable beauty. It gives consumers control of on-the-spot formula adjustments to meet their preferences or changing needs. Although this approach is not entirely new, advances in technology are making effective solutions more accessible; the challenge now is to make them more affordable.

The innovation presented here aims to achieve this goal with a new microfluidic design to mix the sub-formulas without heat or agitator to create the final product. This article first explains the development of this invention by defining programmable beauty and describing the technologies needed to create it. A proof-of-concept prototype is then highlighted demonstrating the logistics and mixing process; it is also put to the test, as well as the resulting products. Finally, anecdotal user experience is also provided.

. . .Find out more in the June 2022 digital edition. .

Donovan B. Sanford