Special Report
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Seven future technological trends in beauty

Beauty is now a multi-billion euro industry and scientific advances in the area are going to revolutionise the world of beauty

1. Minding your microbiome

Just as we begin to wrap our heads around the microbiome – the trillions of microbes living in and on the human body – and the importance of nourishing it through diet, it seems we have to take it into account when choosing our skincare too. The body of research on the link between our microbiome and our skin lags behind its role in gut health but is rapidly catching up – for example, earlier this year a team of US researchers determined there is a connection between a skin microbiome imbalance and eczema flare-ups. Certain products may also be doing more harm than good, destroying the sensitive balance of our skin microbiota.

The beauty world is all over it – probiotics are now just as likely to be found in creams and serums as they are in yogurts and drinks.

2. Is it working?

No matter how much you gaze into the mirror, it can be hard to determine if your expensive skincare regime is working. Now, Irish clinics are using 3D cameras for highly sophisticated skin analysis, which can objectively quantify skin texture, tone, pore size and sun damage.

Miravex is an Irish company founded by physicists from Trinity College Dublin. Its unique Antera 3D camera is capable of accurately measuring skin quality, such as how red someone is if they have rosacea, or the texture of the skin if they've got sun damage.


“It’s very useful because we can show patients the improvement over time with treatment objectively, by telling them they have a certain percentage improvement rather than just wondering if they are working or not,” explains Dr Peter Prendergast, medical director of Venus Medical.

3. It’s in the genes

Finding the right skincare regimen used to be a case of trial and error. Soon, however, using genetic markers to determine which products we should be using will become commonplace. A small saliva sample will be able to tell you whether you are at risk for skin problems later on, such as acne or rosacea and can even give clues to how your skin will age.

"There are so many products that people use that aren't suitable for them. Our genes code for our hair colour, our skin type, etc. Knowing these will tell us what we need to be doing to prevent skin issues later on," explains Prof Caitriona Ryan, a specialist in medical and cosmetic dermatology, who works at the Blackrock Clinic. She says French beauty company Biologique Recherche is now offering a "skin DNA test" to prescribe a specific skincare regimen for customers. "The key is individualisation of skincare regimens."

4. Getting appy

Dying to try red lipstick but not in real life? Unsure how to best treat breakouts? Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s an app for that. A whole suite of make-up and beauty apps have launched in recent months, with major cosmetics brands getting in on the act. Cutting-edge skincare apps employ artificial intelligence to analyse selfies and diagnose skin issues.

ModiFace is a virtual makeover app that offers state-of-the-art make-up simulations and various makeover effects. Similarly, Makeup Genius by L’Oréal allows you to upload a selfie for an instant makeover, scanning 64 points of the face to perfect lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation, blush, and liner.

Shiseido’s Optune app disrupted the entire skincare industry when it launched with its personalised internet of things (IoT) skincare solution. Using data from the IoT, Optune analyses skin using a personal algorithm and takes into account the surrounding environment, determining the most suitable serum and moisturiser for a user to wear on a given day.

5. The facial filler future

Baulk at the idea of injecting a foreign substance into your face, but desperate to freshen up your look? Dermal fillers typically use synthetic compounds such as hyaluronic acid, but there is a now a plethora of research to show that fat transfer from elsewhere on the body is a promising method of facial rejuvenation, with fewer complications than other fillers and high patient satisfaction rates. This autologous – meaning it comes from the individual – fat contains high amounts of stem cells, which have been shown to improve skin quality.

6. Eating yourself beautiful

This may be possible with a healthy diet, but the latest nutraceuticals offer an array of benefits that go far beyond a healthy glow. Edible deodorants and perfumes are already on the market, and drinks that claim to plump up your skin from within are gaining in popularity. Supplements containing vitamins that claim to improve skin, hair and nails have been available for years, but the latest offerings of ingestible collagen, resveratrol, astaxanthin, and hyaluronic acid, along with extracts of bamboo, olive fruit and green tea are now lining shelves.

Experts may be divided on their efficacy but clinical studies suggest they may have some benefit; in one study, researchers gave 69 women ages 35 to 55 collagen or a placebo for eight weeks and observed that those in the collagen group had better skin elasticity at the end of the trial.

7. No sweat

If you are someone who suffers with hyperhidrosis – also known as excessive perspiration – a new treatment looks set to make the future a less sweaty place. While Botox has been used to great effect in fixing this problem, it is a temporary – and generally expensive – solution. MiraDry is a new treatment that can permanently rid sufferers of underarm sweating in just one non-invasive procedure, and the good news is that Irish clinics are now offering it. Electromagnetic waves generate heat that effectively destroys the sweat glands. It sounds radical but it works – and it is approved by the FDA.

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times