Are digital facials the future of beauty?

Are you tempted to turn your bathroom into a beauty salon and do your own facial care, advised by a trained beautician? That’s what South African brand Optiphi is offering, in this period of social distancing, with its latest range of professional at-home treatments. What’s the concept? Order the necessary products adapted to your skin type, and then follow a virtual consultation to apply the products. Is it a glimpse into the future of salon treatments or a fad with a limited life span?

Lockdown measures have generated a great deal of frustration in terms of beauty routines. Both men and women have scoured the Internet for ideas, tips or advice to refresh their haircut, do a hair colour, or treat themselves to a moment of well-being through treatments to be performed from their bathroom. While many beauty professionals have reopened the doors of their salons, some brands are anticipating a potential second wave lockdown – or simply looking ahead to the future of the beauty sector – by digitising their skincare offer. That’s the case of Optiphi, a brand from South Africa, which has launched digital facials.

How does it work?

To take advantage of these new-generation facials, all you have to do is order one of the three kits offered on the brand’s website, which will be delivered to your home, and wait for a beautician to contact you to set up a virtual appointment. During the session, the professional will guide you step by step to perform the treatment with the appropriate gestures and mix the products if necessary, advise you in relation to your skin type, and monitor whether your skin reacts well to the application of the different products.

While this new approach to skincare treatments sounds tempting, a few questions arise. Is it really possible to reproduce the – often highly technical – gestures of beauty professionals? And what about the relaxation aspect, inherently implied by an appointment in an institute? “Due to Covid-19, many concepts such as this one are bound to emerge, but they take it from being a moment of advice and relaxation to something virtual, devoid of any pleasure. It ends up being something quite different,” said Dr Isabelle Rousseaux, aesthetic dermatologist and board member of the French Union of Dermatologists.

When beauty goes digital

Lockdown measures have shown that men and women are ready to switch to the digital realm for many services in many areas. However, patterns of consumption remain very different from one country to another with specificities for each one. Can digitising a sector like beauty be compatible with the French art of living, the famous “French touch” – which is often inseparable from notions of conviviality and pleasure? Nothing is less certain. “In France, people are rather attached to beauty treatments in salons. I don’t think that this concept would function here, unless people can’t leave their homes. However, in 10 years, I may say the exact opposite, who knows? But not at the present,” stressed Rousseaux, who nevertheless believes that this type of digital concept could be developed in the future.

Periods of lockdown have helped shake things up quite a bit all around. While beauty professionals have not had time to develop these types of at-home products and care, many have begun to offer online diagnostics, whether for skin or hair, so that everyone can buy the most suitable products or carry out hair colouring at home. Solutions that should sooner or later become more widely available. – AFP Relaxnews

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