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Personalized beauty products Hype, Hope or High Tech?


Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA


One of the hottest trends in the cosmetic industry is the movement towards “personalized beauty products.” Essentially, marketers are promising to provide consumers with products designed specifically for them. There are skin care products that target different skin types based on a consumer’s personal microbiome or event their DNA. And there are hair care companies selling products created specifically for consumers that have filled out a long questionnaire and collected lots of data. It seems like exciting times for product formulators and consumers alike.
Unfortunately, as with many trends in the cosmetic industry, the marketing is way ahead of the science. Let’s look at this trend and the problems with formulators face with delivering truly customized products.


Before talking about personalized beauty it’s helpful to know the two significant challenges formulators and marketers in the cosmetic industry face. Namely, it’s a mature industry and consumers aren’t good at noticing subtle differences.

Realistically, when it comes to cosmetic technology, there have been few consumer perceivable technological improvements in the last 20 to 30 years or even longer. The products people use now, are pretty much the same as the ones used decades ago. Shampoos aren’t different. Skin lotions aren’t different. Color cosmetics aren’t really different. If anything, many products don’t even work as well as they used to.

There are a number of reasons for this. First, there have been regulations prohibiting the use of some effective ingredients. California has instituted VOC limits on products like hairsprays which have diminished the product’s effectiveness. The EU has banned preservatives and other compounds that used to be fine to use.

Next, fear-based marketing has proven to be effective in getting consumers to avoid ingredients that are perfectly safe ...

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