From healthcare to travel, multiple industries are investing in generative AI technology in order to enhance products and services. Beauty and cosmetics is no different – an industry already at the forefront of innovation, where ‘beauty tech’ and virtual shopping tools are shaping an all-new type of customer experience.  

Now, generative AI – which includes image generators like Dall-E and the AI chatbot ChatGPT – is leading to further innovation, in areas ranging from content creation to shopper personalisation and more. Here’s a look at how several companies in this sector have been using the technology. 

Streamlining influencer marketing with video product placement

L’Oréal’s VC Fund, Bold, is one of the investors backing Rembrand – a new video advertising company that embeds photo-realistic products into digital video. The idea is to create seamless and unobtrusive advertising in creator or influencer videos, as an alternative to having the host speaking about a particular product for a few minutes, or an (often skippable) pre-roll ad.  

Rembrand analyses videos and digitally inserts photo-realistic product images or animations into the setting. An example features Garnier shampoo bottles that have been placed in the background of a creator’s guided meditation video. The idea is that the process is both easier for brands and creators, with the latter able to focus on the video content rather than the product. 

CEO Omar Tawakol explained to Adexchanger that “interrupting a show for a one- or two-minute ad read is what passes for authenticity in this industry. Our approach is to let creators just make their organic content and not worry about the brand until later, when they have the opportunity to choose which one they want stitched into their video in post-production.” 

It’s unsurprising that L’Oréal has shown interest in Rembrand, as beauty remains one of the biggest categories in the influencer space, with the majority of brands consistently partnering with influencers across social platforms. Another potential benefit of Rembrand is that it can enable brands to increase the number of influencers they work with, particularly smaller or mid-size influencers, enabling them to avoid the lengthy process of setting up and creating sponsorship deals.  

Enhancing brand storytelling with AI-generated imagery

Another beauty brand using generative AI for imagery is Elizabeth Arden, which recently launched a virtual store based on its iconic fifth avenue location. The VR store includes multiple immersive ‘rooms’ including a virtual museum, which – using Dalle-E – features enhanced and edited brand archive images that tell the story of how its ‘Victory Red’ lipstick was created during WWII.

Speaking to Glossy, Neha Singh, founder and CEO of Obsess – the experiential ecommerce company that created the store – explained how it used AI to ‘fill in any gaps’ of archive imagery. “For instance, we used AI to fill in the legs and feet of certain women in the heritage imagery and to correct or complete components of imagery of older items like cars, tables and rocking chairs,” she said.  

Singh also described how the technology can enable brands to enhance creative imagery in new ways, with AI allowing for surreal or fantastical visuals.

Indeed, for Elizabeth Arden, the aim is to create a digital shopping experience that goes beyond product pages to replicate a more immersive style of shopping – something we could see more of in both physical and online retail in future.

Customer service and generative AI: a uniquely transformational moment for the industry

Creating personalised skincare predictions

Personalisation is a big selling point for beauty and skincare brands. Skin + Me, for example, uses images of customers’ skin in order to prescribe the correct products for them. New technology companies are taking this one step further, however, by using generative AI to create images that predict how a person’s skin might change over time and by using different skin care products. This is the premise behind SkinGPT – a new skin simulation platform from AI start-up HautAI.  

Anastasia Georgievskaya, co-founder and CEO of Haut.AI, said of the platform: “Our technology educates consumers and allows them to get transparency on the effects promised by beauty brands. SkinGPT is just beginning, further facilitating R&D through synthetic images and unlocking new heights in the beauty industry. We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of AI in skin care, and SkinGPT is proof of our ongoing research.” 

Like virtual make-up try-on tools, users need to upload a photo of themselves for the AI to be applied. SkinGPT’s simulations are then based off a product’s clinical claims as well as data from tests about skincare product effectiveness (on humans), combined with environmental factors such as the potential effects of pollution and the sun on the skin.  

For beauty brands, the tool can be implemented into ecommerce stores to educate consumers and recommend the right products. Of course, there is no guarantee that the AI simulations will be totally accurate, however it’s data-backed platform is certainly an acceleration of personalisation in beauty, and potentially a help to ecommerce conversion.  

Supercharging existing AR try-on solutions

Perfect Corp is best known for its AR virtual try-on solution, used by the likes of Estee Lauder and Nars. Speaking at its annual Global Beauty and Fashion Tech Forum, founder and CEO of Perfect Corp, Alice Chang, stated that the company is “committed to generative AI development” which so far has seen it incorporate advances in generative AI into its existing try-on solutions.  

One example is the AI and GAN-powered virtual try-on for hairstyles solution, launched in October 2022, which uses generative AI to help create true-to-life hairstyle simulations. In a press release detailing its launch, the company explained that “the advanced AI algorithm is capable of recreating parts of the face, ears, neck, and head to ensure a realistic representation of the end result. The technology also takes hair color, and skin tone into consideration when adapting simulations to each consumer’s unique characteristics, delivering inclusive and impactful AI simulations for all.” 

Virtual try-on has already been a notable innovation in the online beauty retail experience. Looking ahead, generative AI has the potential to add to it, with examples like Perfect Corp’s GAN-powered solution enabling beauty brands to create highly personalised and interactive digital experiences that, crucially, instil confidence and trust in consumers.

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