Skin analysis technologies: from the lab to the home

Natalie Fifield
Dr Nadia Tsao and Raghu Das share some of the research from the new IDTechEx report, "Skin Sensors 2020- 2030: Technologies, Markets, Players, Forecasts".
Skin Sensors 2020- 2030: Technologies, Markets, Players, Forecasts
Sensors for quantitative measurement of skin hydration, wrinkles, fine lines, pores, sebum, elasticity, etc. Opportunities in cosmetics and skincare, including smart retail, e-commerce, hyper-personalization, quantified-self, real-world data, and more
Skin sensors are routinely used in the cosmetics industry, playing essential roles in studies of safety and efficacy. However, despite the importance of and public focus on skin health and appearance, skin sensor technologies have rarely spilled over into wider use by the public. For example, though consumers moisturize their skin, and some even use anti-wrinkle cream, few people utilize moisture sensors to measure their skin hydration, nor do they measure changes in their wrinkles. With the shrinking of electronics and the advancement of smartphones and smartphone cameras, the availability of skin sensors is now spreading.
Digital disruption has reached the cosmetics industry, and companies are seeking ways to augment or even replace their retail counters with digital solutions. This process has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already forced the closure of retailers, spas, etc. for several months. While online sales can bridge some of the gap, there is still a long way to go - traditionally, less than 10% of sales in the cosmetic industry come from online. To drive online sales, software services such as virtual try-on and skin analysis have been developed to provide similar education and product recommendation services of a brick and mortar store. Such technologies have been demonstrated to increase conversion rates and basket sizes.
Skin sensors for analysis of moisture, wrinkles, sebum, color, etc. can take many different forms such as cameras, probes, smart mirrors, films, facial imaging booths, smart phone accessories, and more.
In tandem with digitization comes the demand for personalization. Consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with existing skin analysis solutions and look to electronics, gadgets, and even genetic tests to provide quantifiable results using scientific measurements. Furthermore, an emerging trend is hyper-personalized skin care, which can range between bespoke bottles formulated for a specific person, daily customized skin care based on current skin condition and local weather, to 3D face masks that address specific problem areas on the face. Such products invariably rely on skin sensors to measure parameters such as skin moisture, wrinkles, sebum, elasticity, redness, dark spots, and more to provide the necessary data for personalization.
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