Despite the roughly 1 billion people worldwide living with a disability, the beauty industry hasn't historically made products that suit their needs. With Selma Blair sharing her makeup routine with multiple sclerosis on TikTok and launching a line of inclusive tools, accessibility is now a topic of conversation for many brands.
L'Oreal unveiled two assistive beauty tech products at CES : HAPTA and L'Oreal Brow Magic. And I'll say, they're a breath of fresh air. Both products bring accessibility and inclusivity to an industry that's traditionally missed the mark. It's about time, right?
I got to talk to Guive Balooch, the global head of L'Oreal's Technology Incubator, about the company's accessibility products. His take on accessibility in beauty is simple: "Self-expression should have no barriers or limitations."
The first product from L'Oreal is the HAPTA makeup applicator. It's developed in collaboration with Verily Life Sciences, which created the technology for Liftware, a line of robotic forks and spoons that help people with mobility issues eat. Verily Life Sciences is an Alphabet company.
The HAPTA is similar. It's a handheld computerized makeup applicator for those with limited mobility in their hands or arms. It's surprisingly easy to use; the bulk of the HAPTA applicator is held in hand, with the attachment on the end connected by magnets -- no screwing or opening necessary. Inside the device are real-time sensors and smart motion controls that keep the lipstick upright, no matter which angle you hold it. The attachment swivels 360 degrees.
The HAPTA tool will launch with the L'Oreal-owned Lancôme lipstick and attachment at the end of 2023. However, future makeup applicators are expected. Balooch said, "We won't stop until we have every makeup application." He expects roughly one to two additional attachments, such as mascara and foundation, to launch in 2024 and 2025.
I was immediately struck by how sleek and thorough the device is. All the parts are helpfully self-contained in the charging dock. This shouldn't be a surprise, as all testing was done in the community it's designed for.
L'Oreal Brow Magic
The L'Oreal Brow Magic applicator is reminiscent of the Opte makeup-skincare printer shown at CES in 2020. Developed in partnership with Prinker, this electronic eyebrow applicator uses Modiface AR technology to eliminate the need for a slew of products and a chunk of your time. It's the first hand-held electronic brow applicator. And it works in seconds.
"It's filling the gap between professional and at home. Upgrading the at-home users to something that works no matter what your skill level, no matter what your creative level is. You can achieve what you want for your beauty," said Balooch.
First, you scan your face with the Brow Magic app, which uses AR technology to show how the brow options will look on your face. After you select your style, you move the device across your brow line in a single motion for each brow. The tool has 2,400 tiny nozzles with 1,200-dpi resolution, which print hundreds of hair-like temporary tattoos on your face. You can take it off at the end of the day with a standard makeup remover.
The sensors in the device allow it to locate your hair and match the speed at which you're moving. There's no pressure to go at the right speed -- the device detects and adapts.
There will be nine colors available for the 2023 launch. One ink cartridge, which holds three colors, is expected to last four to six months if used daily, depending on the size of your eyebrows.
Is this the future of beauty accessibility?
There's no sugar-coating it: Accessibility in the beauty industry has never been guaranteed. Makeup is supposed to be for everyone, and maybe starting now, it finally will be.
Many people with disabilities have faced frustration in shopping for and applying makeup with products that weren't designed for their needs. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the industry toward inclusivity. Some brands have already started releasing products in accessible packaging or products that are easier to grip. For example, Selma Blair and Guide Beauty have released easy-to-grip makeup tools designed to guide the hand during application.
When asked what impact he expects the products to have on the industry, Balooch said, "I can humbly say that I hope we are leading, but I also hope it leads to everyone creating new technologies around this space."
The L'Oreal Brow Magic and HAPTA applicators areof inclusion and accessibility for applying makeup. It's not just enough to be able to open the products; they need to work for you too.
"Now there's a lot of sensors and technologies that are more accessible to allow for projects like this. I hope the entire industry does more," Balooch added.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.