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11 technology companies that experts say are transforming the $380 billion beauty industry

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 15 Jul 2021

<p><img src="https://static5.businessinsider.com/image/60edb33b61b8600019f16cdc-1100/himirror_bm500_main_6.jpeg" border="0" alt="HiMirror" data-mce-source="HiMirror"></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>The beauty industry is undergoing a period of transformation, led by the emergence of virtual try-on and other technologies that startups are developing with the aim of taking the online-beauty experience to new levels.</p><p>While <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/ulta-power-players-15-execs-behind-beauty-brand-digital-transformation-2021-6">virtual makeup try-on</a> had already been on the rise in recent years, it became more important during the pandemic, as the temporary closure of stores rendered beauty samples obsolete.</p><p>Now other augmented-reality and artificial-intelligence tools are also proving their staying power, including startups offering services that vary from robotic manicures to lab-grown collagen and palm oil regularly used as ingredients in beauty products. </p><p>"In the past year, brick-and-mortar took a massive hit due to the pandemic and, in turn, e-commerce boomed," Sarah Broyd, an associate partner and leader of the beauty and personal-care practice at Clarkston Consulting, told Insider. "Beauty brands were faced with the challenge of enhancing their online presence and consumer experience in innovative ways."</p><p>According to Kenya Watson, a beauty-intelligence analyst at CB Insights, consumers can expect high-tech beauty tools to have longevity well beyond the pandemic, as they transition from a "nice to have" feature to an essential part both the e-commerce and in-store experience.</p><p>We took a look at 11 of the fastest-growing and most innovative beauty tech companiesa sector within the overall <a href="https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/press-release/cosmetics-market.html">$380 billion beauty industry</a>. Startups listed are based on both industry analysts and our internal research. Estimated total funding for each startup is based on reports from PitchBook unless otherwise specified.</p><h3>Perfect Corp</h3><img src="https://static2.businessinsider.com/image/602ebe8d42b84000192f43f7-400-300/perfect-corp.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $100 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: Perfect Corp is a global beauty-tech company that specializes in AI and AR virtual try-on technologies.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Perfect Corp remains "one of the leading beauty brands in AR technology," Broyd said, particularly when it comes to its popular YouCam Makeup app, which allows users to virtually try on makeup.&nbsp;</p><p>The company has forged several partnerships with major beauty brands including Estee Lauder, as well as e-commerce giants like Alibaba. In 2019, Alibaba teamed with YouCam to integrate the feature into its online shopping, an effort that <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190919005338/en/Perfect-Corp.-Alibaba-Group-Enter-Strategic-Partnership">increased conversions fourfold</a> in six months.&nbsp;</p><p>Watson echoed Broyd and said the company has been a "leader in partnering with other brands," citing <a href="https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2021/perfect-corp-integrates-with-facebook-for-ar-beauty-try-ons/">recent integrations with Facebook and Instagram</a> that solidified it as "one of the prominent technologies of the pandemic."&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /><br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Curology</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60edcef6a8d8c00019b02ead-400-300/curology.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> $61.65 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>Curology provides customized skin-care regimens with the goal of making "effective acne care accessible to everyone," according to its <a href="https://curology.com/our-story/">website</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Broyd said Curology is "one of the leaders in personalized skin-care routines." The company provides users with virtual consultations led by licensed dermatologists, during which consumers can share selfies and discuss their skin-care goals before receiving personalized treatments.&nbsp;</p><p>Watson said that the trend of digital personalization tools will continue.</p><p>"Personalization is reducing friction for consumers in the buying process," she said. "Whether that's helping them pick out what's best for them or coming up with a totally custom formula for each individual person, we're seeing startups using technology to enable personalization."&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Nimble Beauty</h3><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60eda9c261b8600019f16ca0-400-300/nimble-beauty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $15.98 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: Nimble Beauty's main product is a small robotic device designed to "paint every type of nail with salon quality precision."&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> While the autonomous machine is not yet available to purchase, it's already garnered attention, thanks its ability to complete an at-home manicure in 10 minutes or less. Nimble Beauty includes a companion app that allows users to purchase new polish, track their manicure stats, and chat with members of the support team as needed.&nbsp;</p><p>Founder Omri Moran was inspired to build the product after his now-wife was late to their first date after ruining her manicure and attempting to rush home to fix it.&nbsp;</p><p>"I'm one of those people when they see things that are bad, I just start thinking of solutions," Moran <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/01/technology/robot-manicure-nails.html">told The New York Times</a> earlier this month. "And I just wondered why it couldn't be automated. And that's kind of how we got rolling."</p></p><br/><br/><h3>MySkin Choice</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60edb25461b8600019f16cd6-400-300/myskin-choice.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> Undisclosed</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: MySkin Choice is a program developed by South Korea-based Chowis Technology that provides its users with digital skin analysis using AI technology and extensive data sets.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: According to a <a href="https://www.idtechex.com/en/research-report/skin-sensors-2020-2030-technologies-markets-players-forecasts/752">recent report from IDTechEx</a>, the skin-sensor market is estimated to be valued at $275 million by 2030, and MySkin Choice is one of the top players leading the charge.&nbsp;</p><p>The technology delivers contactless skin-care analysis with recommendations to combat issues such as dark spots, laugh lines, visible pores, and blackheads.&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Geltor</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60ef089ca8d8c00019b03243-400-300/geltor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $117.5 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: Geltor uses biotechnology to develop lab-grown ingredients like collagen for beauty products.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: Watson said Geltor merges two especially hot areas of interest within the beauty industry: collagen and sustainable production.&nbsp;</p><p>"A lot of startups are approaching sustainability in nontech ways like eliminating single-use packaging and things like that, but one category where tech can be applied is in ingredients," Watson said. "Companies like Geltor are using biotechnology to create lab-grown ingredients like lab-grown collagen for use in skin-care applications."</p><p>The company was founded by two doctors and blends "biology, protein optimization, and fermentation to create sustainable, high-performance consumer proteins with optimal functionality and benefits," according to its <a href="https://geltor.com/about-us/">website</a>. In 2018 it launched its first product, Collume, which is the first animal-free collagen replacement.&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Il Makiage</h3><p><biembeddedobject id="7e559735-cd99-40c7-8ccc-eee389b5a06d" class="instagram mceNonEditable" style="width: 540px; height: autopx;">Instagram Embed: <br />//instagram.com/p/CQjJHTfH4Aq/embed <br />Width: 540px</biembeddedobject><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: <a href="https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/il-makiage/company_financials">$29 million&nbsp;</a></p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: Il Makiage is a New York-based beauty brand with a focus on "using unparalleled technology to connect people with superior, painstakingly tested, beauty products," <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/reviews/out'u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ilmakiage.com%2Fourstory">according to its website</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: According to Broyd, Il Makiage is" a brand that is proven successful in leveraging AI technology." Tech is an integral part of the company, which features tools like PowerMatch, an algorithm that matches shoppers with foundation using an online quiz without actually viewing their face.&nbsp;</p><p>Though the company was originally launched in 1972 by the makeup artist Ilana Harkavi, it <a href="https://www.tubefilter.com/2019/07/10/il-makiage-relaunches-website/">relaunched in 2018</a> with a fresh digital approach, led by the brother and sister duo Oran Holtzman and Shiran Holtzman-Erel. The reboot came on the heels of L Catterton purchasing a minority stake in the company for $29 million in 2017, and the company is now often <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/lelalondon/2020/05/11/il-makiage-uk-launch-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-cult-beauty-brand/'sh=21c5c8961e28">classified as a cult beauty brand</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>HelloAva</h3><img src="https://static4.businessinsider.com/image/60edd11361b8600019f16d83-400-300/helloava.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $3.3 million</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: HelloAva is an AI-powered digital skin-care consultant and chatbot designed to simplify the process of finding the right products.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: HelloAva is simplifying the process of navigating the vast world of skin-care and beauty products by digitizing the consulting process.&nbsp;</p><p>"The HelloAva chatbot is another example of how companies can adjust based on customer data and feedback &mdash; their algorithms help the customer design a personalized skincare routine and select products," Broyd wrote in a <a href="https://clarkstonconsulting.com/insights/beauty-industry-transformation/">November 2020 blog for Clarkston Consulting</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>C16 Biosciences</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60ef0cc3a8d8c00019b03260-400-300/c16-biosciences.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $24.22 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: C16 Biosciences makes lab-grown palm oil for beauty and personal-care products in an effort to prevent deforestation.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: C16 Biosciences is identifying innovative methods to develop sustainable alternatives to common products in beauty products. Along with Geltor, Watson said C16 Biosciences is one of the most preeminent companies transforming the beauty-industry supply chain.&nbsp;</p><p>According to the website, the company is aiming to revolutionize the $61 billion palm oil industry, which "has drastic environmental and societal costs," including the destruction of rainforests in Costa Rica and Indonesia.&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>HiMirror</h3><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/60edb33b61b8600019f16cdc-400-300/himirror.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: Undisclosed</p><p><strong>What it does: </strong>HiMirror is a smart mirror that allows users to analyze and track the products they use and offers the ability to stream music and makeup tutorials, access social media, and virtually try on and purchase makeup.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> Broyd said HiMirror "takes a unique approach to beauty-tech" with its series of intelligent mirrors that include AR try-on capabilities and allow users to stream beauty tutorials as they get ready. The mirrors also connect to Amazon Alexa, and consumers can make beauty purchases directly from Amazon while using a HiMirror.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Foreo</h3><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60edb160ca74780018ae913f-400-300/foreo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Total funding:</strong> <a href="https://www.owler.com/company/foreo">$225.1 million&nbsp;</a></p><p><strong>What it does:</strong> Foreo is a Swedish beauty-tech brand specializing in skin-care and oral-care devices that use sonic technology for a deeper clean. It includes a connected app that regulates massaging speed and rhythm and provides instructions.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list:</strong> According to Broyd, Foreo makes savvy use of user data to improve and personalize the experience of face washing. It's also become a growing favorite among celebrity users like Chrissy Teigen.&nbsp;</p><p>"Data from consumers can be used to develop high quality, perfected skincare, makeup, perfume, and haircare product formulas for each individual customer," Broyd wrote in a <a href="https://clarkstonconsulting.com/insights/beauty-industry-transformation/">November 2020 blog for Clarkston Consulting</a>. "Matching engine algorithms can also recommend or categorize the suitability of pre-existing products, and chatbots use data to provide personalized, relevant content throughout the sales funnel.</p></p><br/><br/><h3>Clockwork</h3><p><biembeddedobject id="8bc1760b-03e5-4e06-9d2e-50d49161c38e" class="instagram mceNonEditable" style="width: 540px; height: autopx;">Instagram Embed: <br />//instagram.com/p/CQ__QVZrWp_/embed <br />Width: 540px</biembeddedobject><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Total funding</strong>: $3 million&nbsp;</p><p><strong>What it does</strong>: Clockwork provides autonomous machine-operated manicures that are available by appointment in San Francisco.</p><p><strong>Why it's on the list</strong>: Among emerging robotic-manicure brands, Clockwork was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/01/technology/robot-manicure-nails.html">first to market</a> and is already making waves thanks to recent <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/robot-manicure-tiktok-san-francisco-clockwork-b1859347.html">viral TikTok video</a> of a user trying it out. The company is designed to curb the amount of time the average woman spends on her nails, which according to Clockwork, is about 3,210 minutes a year.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p><br/><br/>
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