With the new guard of com­plex­ion boost­ers and be­spoke skin­care, beauty brands are giv­ing con­sumers the keys to the chem­istry lab.

ELLE (Canada) - - Trend - BY SARAH DANIEL

IF YOU HAP­PEN TO BE mak­ing a time capsule for 2017, you may want to toss in your long-time mois­tur­izer along with that Fit­bit and those Vete­ments sock boots. While we have more in­no­va­tive op­tions in the skin­care aisle than ever be­fore, the days of shop­ping straight from the shelf may be num­bered thanks to an in­flux of cus­tom­ized serums and made-to-or­der op­tions that could make mass-pro­duced skin­care look like the beauty equiv­a­lent of a floppy disk.

“Con­sumers are re­ject­ing the one-size-fit­sall ap­proach,” says Theresa Yee, se­nior beauty ed­i­tor at trend fore­cast­ing agency WGSN. Rather than re­ly­ing on a brand to dic­tate what they should use, “women want prod­ucts that work and de­liver re­sults for their skin type and con­cerns,” she says. The “make it mine” move­ment, says Yee, is also be­ing driven, in part, by a grow­ing in­ter­est in know­ing where our prod­ucts come from as well as the Maker Move­ment, a tech-in­flu­enced DIY com­mu­nity. More­over, there has been a so­ci­etal shift: the rise of the selfie gen­er­a­tion. “It’s all about the ‘me, me, me’ cul­ture, and this has led con­sumers to think more about them­selves and what fits their life­style,” says Yee. Af­ter all, even the most beloved beauty brands can’t please ev­ery­one all of the time. It’s that think­ing that in­spired Chi­tra De­sikan, founder of Cana­dian eco-beauty la­bel Sub­tle Green, to of­fer cus­tom­iz­a­ble op­tions for her serums and mois­tur­iz­ers. “When there are way too many in­gre­di­ents in one prod­uct, the con­cen­tra­tion of any one in­gre­di­ent is so small it hardly con­trib­utes to the so­lu­tion,” says De­sikan. “With in­di­vid­u­ally crafted skin­care, peo­ple can target their skin’s needs and en­sure that they are get­ting highly fo­cused so­lu­tions that work for them.”

While the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion de­fined the 19th and 20th cen­turies, the “Cus­tom Rev­o­lu­tion” is defin­ing the 21st cen­tury, writes An­thony Flynn, au­thor of Cus­tom Na­tion: Why Cus­tomiza­tion Is the Fu­ture of Business and How to Profit From It. “In the 20th cen­tury, con­ven­tional wis­dom was that cus­tomiza­tion was a bad business model for any­thing but a small niche seller be­cause it was ex­pen­sive and slow.” But that think­ing has clearly changed. Now, “even the non-ma­te­ri­al­ized parts of our lives are teem­ing with cus­tom­ized prod­ucts,” says Flynn, cit­ing ex­am­ples like Net­flix, per­son­al­ized playlists on digital music ser­vices like Spo­tify, Google’s just-for-you ads and Facebook’s tai­lored news feeds.

Cus­tomiza­tion is in­deed hap­pen­ing across all in­dus­tries—from tech­nol­ogy to food— with some fash­ion la­bels be­ing the ear­li­est adopters. (Think Nike iD’s “build your own sneaker” pro­gram or mono­gram­ming bars at re­tail­ers like Top­shop and Coach.) Now the beauty in­dus­try is catch­ing up, with new play­ers in not only skin­care but also makeup and hair­care jump­ing on the band­wagon. Take Find­ing Fer­di­nand and Func­tion of Beauty, which let you cre­ate your own lip­stick and sham­poo, re­spec­tively. And the MatchCo app builds a unique foun­da­tion shade based on a selfie rather than di­rect­ing you to a li­brary of set foun­da­tion hues.

Be­spoke beauty is noth­ing new to Mon­treal-based Blend & Boost. The skin­care brand, which mixes cus­tom for­mu­las for cus­tomers, has a his­tory of mak­ing made-to­order salves—Medisca, its par­ent com­pany, is a leader in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pound­ing. For skin­care and hair­care gi­ant Kiehl’s, cre­at­ing a per­son­al­ized of­fer­ing meant go­ing back to its roots as a home­o­pathic phar­macy in New York’s East Vil­lage, where John Kiehl and his ap­pren­tice Irv­ing Morse blended lo­tions and po­tions on the spot for cus­tomers, a prac­tice that con­tin­ued un­til the early ’80s. For its 165th an­niver­sary last fall, the brand launched Apothe­cary Prepa­ra­tions, a nod to its ori­gin story and a coup for any­one look­ing for a po­tent serum tai­lored specif­i­cally to their com­plex­ion needs. Af­ter a con­sul­ta­tion with a skin­care spe­cial­ist, cus­tomers are sent home with a base (the brand’s Skin Strength­en­ing Con­cen­trate) and two in­di­vid­u­ally cho­sen prob­lem-tar­get­ing com­plexes—a pore-min­i­miz­ing

sam­phira-oil and sal­i­cylic-acid blend or a wrin­kle-fight­ing combo of vi­ta­min A and proretinol, for ex­am­ple. Al­though there is the DIY el­e­ment of com­bin­ing the three com­po­nents at home, Dr. Adam Geyer, a con­sult­ing der­ma­tol­o­gist for Kiehl’s, points out that the in­gre­di­ents are de­signed and tested for their com­pat­i­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity when mixed to­gether. “This isn’t the same thing as mix­ing your own as­sort­ment of prod­ucts in your cab­i­net into one cream,” he says. At Sephora, Skin Inc. also of­fers a chance to play chemist with My Daily Dose Cus­tom-Blended Serum Set, which in­cludes three serums of your choice and a mix­ing bot­tle. And, like a Blue Apron meal-de­liv­ery kit, Loli beauty boxes pro­vide fresh in­gre­di­ents to make from­scratch skin­care at home. Dr. Jaggi Rao, an Ed­mon­ton-based der­ma­tol­o­gist, sees the mer­its in cus­tom­ized skin­care but also ad­vo­cates for the tra­di­tional skin­care model: “The beauty in­dus­try and, of course, der­ma­tol­o­gists have the ad­van­tage of re­sources, qual­ity re­search, ed­u­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence to back up their knowl­edge of the skin and skin­care.” He also says that Googling in­gre­di­ents and skip­ping an as­sess­ment with a li­censed, trained and ex­pe­ri­enced tech­ni­cian means re­sults could be var­ied. “This knowl­edge and skill can­not be sub­sti­tuted by self-re­search or com­puter-aided re­placed soft­ware,” he says.

If you’re not into cre­at­ing an en­tire prod­uct from scratch, you can still amp up your ev­ery­day mois­tur­izer with the buf­fet of boost­ers avail­able. This spring, Bobbi Brown launched Remedies, a range of six treat­ments tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent con­cerns. (The an­tiox­i­dant-rich Skin Re­viver, which aims to boost skin health, reads like a Green­house Juice menu fea­tur­ing al­gae and fer­mented kale, Brus­sels sprouts and spinach, while the Skin Salve is in­fused with shea but­ter and turmeric ex­tract to help soothe dry or dam­aged skin.) Af­ter launch­ing its self-tan­ning booster, Clar­ins in­tro­duced three more skin­care-spe­cific boost­ers last fall. And Cover FX is also ex­pand­ing its port­fo­lio with four con­cen­trates in­fused with ev­ery­thing from vi­ta­min A to neroli and adding three new shades to its range of Cus­tom En­hancer Drops, which are de­signed to de­liver a hint of highlight or bronze to your skin­care. You can also turn your mois­tur­izer into a BB cream with Clin­ique’s new BIY Blend It Your­self Pig­ment Drops.

Whether you are ready to put on your lab coat or pre­fer to dab­ble with boost­ers, the cus­tom-skin­care trend shows no signs of slow­ing, says Yee. Per­son­al­iza­tion based on an in­di­vid­ual’s life­style and ge­netic makeup is the way of the fu­ture. “As con­sumers’ de­sire for more be­spoke so­lu­tions for long-term preven­tive care grows, beauty prod­ucts tai­lored to their DNA will be the next evo­lu­tion of this trend,” says Yee, who cites com­pa­nies like Geneu that pro­vide a per­son­al­ized skin­care pro­gram based on DNA and life­style anal­y­sis.

Iron­i­cally, as things get more sci­en­tific, one of the big­gest ben­e­fits of cus­tom skin­care is also the sim­plest: build­ing loy­alty, which may help with fol­low-through, says Geyer. “There is a greater like­li­hood that you’ll con­sis­tently use a prod­uct you’ve taken the time to help for­mu­late ver­sus an offthe-shelf prod­uct.” And, as we know, con­sis­tency means bet­ter re­sults—and pos­si­bly one less prod­uct to toss into that time capsule. h

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