The Future is Now for Cosmetics and Consumer Products | AIChE

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The Future is Now for Cosmetics and Consumer Products

SBE Special Section

When you think about cosmetics, the first things that come to mind may be your grandmother’s favorite shade of lipstick, the zombie facepaint you applied on Halloween as a kid, or the brightly lit makeup counter in your local department store.

But the cosmetics industry produces more than just the multihued lipsticks and eyeshadows for which it is traditionally known. This fast-paced industry innovates and develops nearly every product you use on your skin and hair today — be it hand salve, dandruff shampoo, or sunscreen.

Worldwide, the cosmetics industry generates an annual revenue of more than US$170 billion. Major players like L’Oréal, Unilever, and Estée Lauder have long reigned over the global beauty market. But as consumers show an increasing interest in sustainable, vegan, and cruelty-free products, independent (i.e., indie) brands have grown in popularity.

Although the cosmetics industry has been around for hundreds of years, the industry today is remarkably technology-driven. For example, L’Oréal has developed wearable sensors to track the user’s exposure to sun, as well as a corresponding app that can predict sun damage to skin. Japanese beauty company Shiseido launched its Internet-of-Things (IoT)-powered skincare system Optune in 2019, which uses an app to analyze the user’s skin condition and a novel...

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