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Tools + topicals is where the ‘real innovation lies’ in beauty - designer

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty tools 2021 should work in combination with topicals, says design expert in CosmeticsDesign-Europe Beauty 4.0 Podcast

Related tags beauty 4.0 beauty tech beauty tool self-care face masks Skin care Design

Combining beauty tools with topicals for enhanced efficacy and improved usability is a gap in the market with plenty of promise that brands haven’t quite found yet, says Jo Barnard, founder and creative director of Morrama.

In CosmeticsDesign-Europe’s eighth Beauty 4.0 Podcast​ – a digital series looking at how technology and innovation will shape beauty’s future – we catch up with Jo Barnard, founder and creative director of UK industrial design agency Morrama. 

Jo Barnard, founder and creative director of UK industrial design agency Morrama
Jo Barnard, founder and creative director of UK industrial design agency Morrama

In this 30-minute podcast, Barnard talks about the increased interest in beauty tools since the onset of COVID-19 and the level of opportunity available for brands to edge into this space – concepts she believes haven’t quite been mastered yet in terms of pricing, usability and design.

Combining industrial-design beauty tools with serums and creams

The beauty tool space today, she said, had products on “two ends of the spectrum”​ – highly smart and precise tools like Opté that had a price tag to match and very simple offerings like the Tangle Teezer that were accessible in price terms yet still hugely effective.

However, Barnard said the issue today was there “doesn’t seem to be a huge amount in the middle”, ​nor many products that combined a tool offering with a topical.

“The combination of the two is, I think, where the real interest lies and where the real innovation potential lies, and no-one has really adopted that yet,”​ she said.

Beauty was “very saturated”​ in topical product terms, she said, so the next opportunity could be in creating topical and tool combinations.

“…Everyone is trying to bring out something new (…) and I think perhaps the way that people can start to differentiate is through the use of industrial design of products that can help make those products work better for the customer.”

Barnard’s design agency Morrama had created three tool concepts as a ‘vision of the future’, she said, two of which considered this combination. The first was a battery-powered face ‘patch’ that heated or cooled the skin to soothe or stimulate it for better absorption of active ingredients; the second was a battery-powered mask that fitted over the face like a pair of glasses and heated up the skin ahead of application of a topical for improved efficacy; and the third was a slick-looking facial massage tool for improved lymphatic drainage that could be used as part of a daily self-care routine.

‘Breaking down those barriers’ in beauty

However, Barnard said any innovation launched in the beauty tool space had to consider usability and user experience and fit comfortably into existing beauty routines. It also had to fit a price point suitable for the majority of consumers, she said.

“It’s about breaking down those barriers, trying not to be too complicated and trying to fit into people’s routines,” ​she said.

All Morrama’s design concepts, for example, avoided linking to an app or digital device, she said, to ensure the product could become part of a relaxing and disconnected self-care beauty routine.

“We try and keep things as low-fly as possible, because tech can really get in the way.”

Aesthetics and how great the tool looked also had to be looked at carefully to draw in the consumer and align with expectations in today’s beauty market, Barnard said.

Beauty 4.0 Podcast – a deeper look at the future of beauty tools

For more insight on the key opportunities in the beauty tool space, listen to our 30-minute podcast above or access our podcasts by subscribing via Apple Podcasts​ or finding us on Spotify​.

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