Gone are the days when a bright complexion, light eyes and waif-like figures were regarded as the only standard measures of beauty. The paradigm shift is now towards an all-encompassing structure, which celebrates individuality. People are finally waking up to the fact that not everyone has the same skin, hair, or body type, and that need to be taken care of differently. Accepting diversity and enhancing what makes each person unique, has given rise to one of the biggest trends of the decade—beauty customisation.
An increasing number of brands are promoting inclusivity in order to cater to a larger audience while also garnering best results through a personalised approach. CEO of SkinKraft Chaitanya Nallan believes, one in three women will move towards customised products by 2025. “A confluence of three significant trends: Mass internet adoption, enabling feedback loops and user input, AI-enabled understanding of ingredient effectiveness, and modern manufacturing technologies will cause a major shift in the market. Mass-produced products will exit, making way for customised products in the hair, skin, and beauty segments. This will simplify consumers’ choices and end the unrewarding cycle of experimentation,” she states.
Understanding custom care
Outfits today are decided as per the occasion, diets are planned around one’s lifestyle, and exercise regime according to the body type. When every other need is personalised, then why should beauty products be a one-size-fits-all? “Every individual has a different biochemistry, which means every skin type and hair type is unique. What works for one person may be totally incorrect for another’s skin due to subtle chemical and genetic differences. Customised skin and haircare eliminates this concern by identifying the unique features and targeting individual concerns,” explains Neha Rawla from the Brand Communications team of Forest Essentials.
The off-the-shelf culture is dying with the rise of individualism, increased awareness, and change in consumer behaviour. Nallan explains, “A generic item mass-produced by an FMCG company cannot be the most effective approach to self-care. In fact, these products encourage trial and error skincare, which ends up damaging the skin in the long run.” Hence, customisation is important not only to address the current concerns of the body but also to prevent further damage.
Customisation culture promotes structured decisions; it’s no more about the most popular product on the shelf. Nallan tells, “A customised product is driven by different permutations and combinations of ingredients to target a specific problem faced by an individual. As consumers it’s imperative to know why you are using a product containing a certain ingredient.” Customisation is essential now more than ever with an ever-evolving pool of products. The way women choose skin and hair care itemsis reshaping and simplifying the process as brands offer a seamless customer experience, discouraging impulsive, experimental beauty purchases.
“There’s an increased awareness regarding the fact that the skin also ingests whatever we apply on it. In fact, skincare products like creams, lotions and oils, bypass the digestive process and go full strength into the blood stream. One must, therefore, think of beauty products, not as cosmetics, but as food. All these factors are responsible for customisation for individual needs,” says Neha Rawla from Forest Essentials.
Custom beauty helps build a relationship between brands and consumers. Founder of MyPerfume Anahita Wassan shares, “When something is specially curated for a consumer, they appreciate it and keep coming back for it. You get to interact with the end consumer and understand their needs, thereby giving them a product that suits them the best. The brand also gets a first-hand insight into consumer behaviour, which helps in churning out good products and build a loyal clientele.”
Dr Pooja Chhabra, Co-founder of Nuskay Skincare elaborates that interacting with well-informed consumers help brands understand the preferences of different skin types along with insights on what they are looking for in their skincare products. “We maintain a data base and use the information to innovate and curate new products for an array of skin concerns,” she shares.
An individual’s skin and hair needs alter with advancing age, seasonal changes, moving geographies, lifestyle etc. Hence, it’s not only about finding the right product but using it at the right time. “Assembling the perfect skincare regimen involves a fair amount of trial and error. A product may suit a particular skin type during the summer and may cause dryness in the colder months. The cycle of customsation too, needs a change every now and then,” states Rawla.
Think, a moisturiser that hydrates your skin just the right amount in summer, or a cleanser that’s neither too gentle on your skin nor strips it off the natural oils in winter. Customisation allows scope for modification over time. Nallan says, “Some of the skincare disruptors already have a mechanism in place that allows customers to switch products based on their needs and concerns for a particular month or season. For example, we ask customers to share feedback for their products and provide a switch of products on that basis”.
Chatbot, a popular customer service approach, greets as soon as a viewer lands on the website. It helps companies tweak their products as per consumers’ needs. Similarly, brands are increasingly investing in product recommendations to direct their audience to other items that might be useful to them. With the help of technology and user insights, manufacturers are now able to get unique information about their customers’ needs—skin/hair type, problem areas, lifestyle, environmental conditions, geographic triggers, etc. This gives them an accurate profile to develop tailor-made products for each customer.
“Technology and innovation go hand in hand. Customisation becomes faster and better with the help of AI. For instance, at our end, hair analysis is completely driven by an AI based platform, which is monitored by experts. Once a person lands at the page, he/she is directed to take the hair analysis designed as per regimen,” says Nallan.
Shikhee Agarwal, AVP-Kiehl’s India shares, “Consumers are no longer limited to beauty basics and they want to try unique natural ingredients and a personalised skincare routine. Brands are aiming at connecting with the consumers by revamping how they interact with their audience.’’ From in-store expert consultation and online quizzes to crafting a well-analysed individual profile, a wide range of activities are being offered to personalise the experience. Then there are novel ways such as inventing your own product, which is an empowering and enjoyable process for the consumer.
Forest Essentials offers the dosha analysis, an interactive personalised session where in-store Ayurvedic doctors conduct a one-to-one consultation with the guest, determining their prakriti or body type. Specifically customised Ayurvedic recommendations are given for every individual and the consultant also demonstrates how to use the product for best results.
MyPerfume fragrances are divided on the basis of personality traits where a customer can match her personality traits and perfume notes accordingly; a nice sensual fragrance or a light casual aqua scent can make all the difference in one’s aura.
Keihl’s provides personalised in-store consultations wherein experts provide appropriate product recommendations based on individual concerns. It indulges in #AfternoonwithKiehl’s, a platform to provide skin consultations and samples. The brand works on ‘Try before You Buy’ sampling philosophy. It is also introducing new products and stores primarily based on customer suggestions and requests.
Clinique iD allows you to make your own moisturiser fit by choosing one of its three different hydrating bases, and mixing in one of five different active concentrate cartridges; each of which is formulated to address a specific skin concern.
Nuskay develops a customised, expert formula on request and works on small, quality controlled batches. As of now, it is offering this service only to the skin experts and makeup artists. Nuskay products have been specially curated to address Indian consumers’ skincare problems, taking into account factors like climate, humidity, sun exposure, dietary habits, etc.
With bespoke offerings, consumers are playing a larger role in the products that are part of their beauty routine, rather than merely purchasing through advertisements. This is bringing about a speedy shift towards greater diversity in the beauty industry.
Khushbu Gandhi, founder of beauty blog Makeup Musings confirms, “Consumer awareness is at an all-time high, thanks to the influencer community! I strongly support this culture as consumers and companies both are on the winning side. Although the concept of customised beauty is strongly prevalent in high-end brands, drug store brands are also getting a hang of it.”
Bespoke beauty, much like anything tailored, personalised and exclusive, is expensive. The question that now remains is, ‘Is it worth the price tag?’ Vanessa Sequiera, a 34-year-old hospitality industry professional from Goa, says, “I’m still not sure what products work well for me, or which tone of foundation blends well with my natural skin tone. It has always been a trial-and-error process for me. Then again, what suited me at 20 doesn’t work for me now.”
Sequiera, like many others, has embraced the personalised beauty regime. “Customisation is the way to go forward. I have grown out of drug store products and moved to organic brands that offer a range of variants to suit different skin and hair types at relatively higher prices. I do my research and try to get advice from experts. I would like to switch to completely customised products eventually, provided they are easily accessible and do not burn a hole in my pocket,” she says.
Beauty no longer mirrors a universal look. The industry is redesigning its approach in a way that embraces inclusivity by adressing individal concerns. Hop on the bespoke bandwagon and revel in what makes you unique!