Beauty Tech: The Rise of Technology in the Beauty Industry
ADVONE KATSANDE, 16 March 2023
The UK beauty industry—which is worth over £35b today—is evolving. Modern technologies and a change in mindset are transforming what is being developed and how we’re shopping.
Traditionally, the beauty and cosmetic industries thrived on a “one shade fits all” ethos. But in 2017, Rihanna challenged this with the launch of Fenty Beauty, which released 40 different shades of foundation—formulated to cater to different skin shades and pigmentation. Fenty is among other beauty brands pioneering inclusivity, diversity, and personalisation in the industry. And this growing push is encouraging historic market leaders (think Estee Lauder and L’Oreal) to develop products and technologies that are more accessible, sustainable and customer-centric.
What is beauty tech?
Beauty tech is the intersection between technology and the beauty industry—taking the sector beyond face masks and one-size fits all hair care, to a world of beauty-related tech innovations.
Through the rise of online shopping, social media platforms, and the influencer industry, now more than ever, consumers are confronted with a vast range of brands to choose from. The industry has reacted, using algorithmic processes, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to provide more customer-centric experiences. From digital skin analysis to shade-matching foundation—the emergence of beauty tech has led to a more personalised shopping experience.
The popularity of beauty tech can be seen in our data. We found that the number of active beauty tech companies has grown steadily but surely over the past decade.
How important is the sector?
Just as other industries are harnessing the power of tech, the beauty industry has followed suit. As a reaction to the restrictions of the pandemic, key players in the beauty industry accelerated their digital transformation by offering augmented reality experiences (think virtual try-ons) while in-store shopping was unavailable.
From the launch of L’Oreal’s Perso—a skincare and cosmetic formula device that uses algorithmic formulas to deliver personalised beauty care—to Bella Hadid modelling Coperni’s spray-painted dress, it’s clear that technology and AI are the hottest accessories across beauty and fashion right now.
Our data reveals that—at the time of writing— there are over 400 active UK-based beauty and cosmetic companies offering digital services. And beauty tech is already a lucrative market, having secured equity investments of just over £1.04b in the last 10 years. In 2021 alone, UK-based skincare companies raised £121m in equity investment.
4 beauty tech companies to watch
Here, we’ve spotlighted five beauty tech companies with innovative technologies we’ll be keeping a close eye on.
Funds raised: £2.21m
Dcypher uses high-tech design analysis to develop custom-blend foundations, helping customers match make-up products to their exact skin tone. Its mobile technology scans a user’s face online and then creates a unique “Skin ID” which will create a personalised foundation formula.
The company has raised £2.21m in equity investment across four rounds with contributions from Future Fund and Seedrs. It has also received a £5.00k grant from Innovate UK.
Funds raised: £550k
London-based Klira is a digital skincare company that uses technology to decode skin and create personalised, science-backed, prescription skincare routines. Founded by Consultant Dermatologist Emma Craythorne in 2021, Klira’s technology is designed to assess the cellular processes that impact the skin and creates a personalised routine for customers.
The start-up has raised a total of £550k in equity investment across two rounds since its inception from investors including Venrex Investment Management.
Funds raised: £18.3m
London-based Skin+Me offers a digital skincare subscription plan. Its dermatologists use machine learning and algorithmic processes to design personalised prescription treatment plans to tackle skin conditions such as acne, pigmentation, melasma, and rosacea. By combining medical expertise and tech, it aims to assist individuals in improving their skincare by democratising dermatology for all.
The start-up has secured £18.3m in equity funding via three funding rounds, including a £9.34m contribution from Octopus Ventures in December 2022.
Funds raised: £150k
Atypical Cosmetics is a female-founded startup that uses AI algorithms to develop customised skincare serum solutions using natural and vegan ingredients. The Glasgow-based company was established by Marwa Ebrahim in 2019. Atypical cosmetics use a blend of science and clean ingredients to create innovative formulations for a person’s unique skin requirements.
It received a £70k grant from Scottish EDGE in June 2022 and £150k via equity fundraising in March 2022 from investors including SFC Capital. The rising start-up was also a featured finalist in Cosmetics Business, Beauty Accelerator 2021.
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