If you‘re scrolling through Rightmove, ignore how big the kitchen is – your bathroom is about to become a digitally-fuelled personal beauty emporium, so max out your square-footage and prepare to invest in the future. “Within the next ten years, all the devices currently in a dermatologist’s clinic will be designed and installed for real homes, too,” says New York-based dermatologist Dr Dennis Gross. “Think LED-enhanced devices that treat every inch of your skin for fine lines and imperfections. Powerful, rich flowing beams of light energy could be released by ceiling-mounted units that twirl around your body as you stand still, like a shower.”
Speaking of showers, forget blowing off plans to wash your hair – by the next century, people will be using a hairdryer that emits
gas to ‘clean’ hair. Pretty cool, if you can deal with the idea of water-free washing. Awkward leg-shaving perched on the edge
of your bathtub will also be a thing of the past. In fact, razors and wax strips will be replaced altogether. “The use of at-home robots will eventually transform IPL hair removal,” says Dr Tom Nuijs, Philips research fellow and lead on the IPL Lumea hair removal device. “Fast forward ten to 15 years, and the same robots that vacuum your house could administer hair removal while you apply your make-up or brush your teeth.”
And you‘ll be admiring those pearly whites in a smart beauty mirror. We‘ve already had our first glimpse with The HiMirror Plus (£320). This tablet-sized mirrored screen has a skin-scanning camera to analyse texture and imperfections, comparing them to past photos of your skin to track how effective your routine is. It also has a touch screen that displays shoppable product suggestions and video tutorials. A bit like Cher’s virtual wardrobe in Clueless, but with a 2018 make-up spin – as if! “I want to expand the capabilities of our AR technology, so that you can try out different hair colours, as well as make-up,” says Simon Shen, CEO at HiMirror. “I’m also hoping to add a ‘colour pick’ feature, so that if you try a lipstick on the back of your hand or see a great eyeshadow in a magazine, you can scan and apply it to your own face in AR.”
If you like the look of your new virtual pout and want to buy the lipstick, “Artificial intelligence and voice recognition will dominate your beauty buying at home,” predicts Lou Riby, MD of Elemental Herbology, a natural skincare brand. “Thanks to smarter data collection from your own behavioural algorithms, Alexa will soon know when you’re running out of your favourite products and order them automatically.” Nice one, Alexa, just don‘t break the bank.
Speaking of thoughtful tech tricks, “In three to five years, you will have the ability to control the fragrance infused in your house hours before you arrive,” says fragrance innovator Jo Malone.
“It’ll be done through an app on your phone.” A relaxing cloud
of spa-style cologne as we walk through the front door? #NEED.
THE MOISTURISER TO MEDICINE LEAP
Forget everything you know about cleanse, tone, moisturise: the future of skincare is in robotics. Nausheen Qureshi, biochemist and founder of Elequra skincare, explains: “We’ll be using supercomputers to track hormone pathways in the body within five years. Once we know which hormones secrete which chemicals, we can create something topical to neutralise potential damage.“ In other words, hormonally driven skin conditions, including teen acne and pigmentation during pregnancy, could actually be cured. Give it two decades and we‘ll also be using nanoswimmers. A nano what now? They‘re tiny robots that can swim through your blood stream to deliver medication. “Made of gold and nickel, they‘re five micrometres [that‘s millionths of a metre] in length and controlled by external magnets,“ says Nausheen. “Small enough to travel anywhere in the body, nanoswimmers are currently being developed in labs and the technology could even treat tumours.“
As well as these potentially life-saving uses, Nausheen predicts that they could also dispense skincare ingredients to a specific area of concern. For example, vitamin B12 (which helps prevent hair loss) directly into hair follicles, and Roaccutane (the controversial drug prescribed for acne) to sebum-producing cells, meaning side effects would be minimised and treatment efficacy maximised. Mind officially blown.
Fancy a bit of filler in your lips? ‘Future you’ will be able to try before you buy via a cyber consultation. “Digital dermatology mapping – that can predict how your face will look with injectables – will be here by 2023,” says Dr Hilary Allan, founder of Woodford Medical. And for the needle-phobes among us, the new treatment to look out for is ‘dermalinfusion’. “New delivery systems will allow the infusion of agents, without the need for injections or skin layer penetration, reducing recovery time,” says Dr Costas Papageorgiou, UK medical director for the New York Dermatology Group.
We’re already seeing dissolvable microneedles embedded in patches and masks, but if serums replace syringes, could this mean the fabled Botox-in-a-jar is imminent? Absolutely. “Clinical trials are advancing on a topical cream for the administration of botulinum toxin [AKA Botox],” says Dr Costas. A similar topical formula by Revance Therapeutics, called RT001 Gel, is in its third phase of trials and may hit shelves by 2020. It works by combining a peptide (a fragment of protein) with Revance’s own compound to stop the messaging between nerve tissue and muscle function through the skin – so you get all of the wrinkle reducing magic without the need for invasive injections.
GREEN MEANS GO
Waterless, biodegradable, refillable: these will be the mantras for mass beauty brands according to the Greenpeace Detox campaign, which is encouraging brands to be entirely toxin-free and socially accountable in their manufacturing process by 2020. Skincare innovator Nannette de Gaspé is already ahead of the game, having addressed water waste by inventing bone-dry sheet mask technology (the fabric is infused with dry ingredients, which are friction-activated as they touch your skin).
“More brands will develop products that use less water,” she says. “This will significantly impact brand strategies and innovation in relation to the active ingredients that are used, as well as natural content and packaging. Consumers will be hesitant to support brands that have not made efforts in those areas.” Indeed, how a product is packaged could have a detrimental effect on profit, not just the planet. “We are already seeing a rebellion against extremely wasteful practice, such as jars housed within multiple boxes and cellophane,” says Dr Bellini. “Young shoppers have a more socially responsible outlook towards the things they buy. And this ultimately rubs off on their choice of influencers.” Good to know for any budding YouTubers out there: prioritise your green stance and watch those numbers grow.
THE FINE PRINT
The truth is, in 20 years’ time you will be drastically minimising your carbon footprint anyway, because you could actually be making most of your beauty products yourself. Yes, really. “With 3D printing you will be able to create a whole range of items, including your own perfume bottles,” says Benoît Verdier, cofounder of fragrance house Ex Nihilo.
Brands such as Avon and Smashbox are already using industrial-level 3D printers for packaging and tools, but while you may not be able to print your own patented Chanel mascara wand right now, you can certainly blend your own blush cream to precisely match its latest collection.
After all, Harvard Business School graduate Grace Choi has invented the tech. Her company Mink sells cosmetic pigment cartridges for at-home 3D printers (which cost between £400 and £4,000), so you can invent your own shades and mix them into simple base textures, such as gels, waxes, moisturisers and balms.
The skincare sector is next: “I’ve seen a printer produce a mesh that attaches onto human skin to assist in wound healing,” says Atoshi George, senior scientific advisor for L’Oréal Paris. “In two
to three years we will have solid hyaluronic acid masks that dissolve onto the skin being freshly printed in-store before your very eyes.” Looking further into the future we can see a world of what futurists refer to as ‘humanity 2.0’. “The body will be seen not as a given but as a ‘work in progress’, where 3D-printed body parts will become a normal element in our healthcare system,“ says Dr Bellini. Creepy or cool? The jury‘s still out.
We asked trend hunter and director of multiple tech start-ups, Kinvara Balfour, how her fantasy future self will buy face cream in 2028.
“It would be prescribed to me by a humanoid who would scan and inspect my skin, using AI to check back against past records to ascertain any new problems, ageing speed and cell breakdown rate. After the scan, a series of collagen-stimulating, scar-reducing treatments would be administered by machine, with zero room for error.
My topical face cream will be made (by a robotic team) especially for me with a bespoke formula, including SPF200 as the sun continues to strengthen, and delivered to my house by drone. Several miniature pots would be included for travel, as I will be travelling much more on Boom supersonic planes (London to NYC in 3.5 hours) and to Mars, care of SpaceX.The cream would come in biodegradable, non-plastic packing, and any literature needed would be sent digitally to my phone.”