Introduction: The Changing Beauty Industry

Beauty is a reflection of health: this is the meaning of the transformation of the cosmetics sector into the beauty industry. This transformation calls for a transformation of the R&D function at the ecosystem level, which includes, alongside companies and research organizations in the sector, private and public players in health data networks. But talking about health data in this context may surprise, even disturb our thinking habits. Beauty as the result of a cosmetic operation tends to dissociate these two notions. Yet the cosmetic operation no longer constitutes the identity of this sector. And the future of companies like L’Oréal, LVMH, and Chanel will now depend on the relationship between health data and beauty production. Indeed, the future of companies such as L’Oréal, LVMH, and Chanel will depend on the relationship between health data and beauty production:

  • There is, at the outset, a causal link between health and beauty;
  • Technological applications to create beauty from health data exist, particularly at the R&D level;
  • The production of health data is increasing, and health data ecosystems are the subject of ambitious development projects in some countries;
  • Business models exist to make these technological applications profitable.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these arguments.


I. A simple idea: beauty as a reflection of health

One need only consider the effects of illness, injury, fatigue, and aging to admit a causal link between health and beauty. From this evidence stems the interest of a holistic approach to beauty, going beyond the surface to identify the role of health factors in the production of beauty, and to identify those on which it is possible to act as an individual in a world where health is itself the result of a multitude of factors, including political factors.

It should be noted that this idea of a link between health and beauty is not without radical implications for a society where the idea of a multiplicity of beauty standards tends to flourish. If health produces beauty, does this mean that beauty is an objective notion, in the same way as health? Shouldn’t the exploration of this field lead to a unique model of beauty? Enough to feed an explosive philosophical debate, but let’s leave it at that! For this complex debate should not make us lose sight of the first obvious fact: health indisputably contributes to beauty. A simple idea.


II. Technological applications of artificial intelligence to beauty

Non-invasive health data is exploding, thanks in part to the development of smartphones and fitness and health bracelets, which have long captured our heart rate, temperature, and steps. It is also possible to capture and analyze tonal variations in a user’s voice. On the genetic data side, there is also an explosion of data as a result of advances in genomics. Why not apply artificial intelligence techniques to these vast data sets?


Some applications for the beauty industry within the R&D function

The potential applications of artificial intelligence can be considered at multiple levels. At the R&D level, they take the following forms in particular:

  • Predictive R&D, especially in the case of formula stability;
  • The digital loopback of weak signals with R&D.


General issue of these applications: identifying the data and finding the economic balance

The development of these applications must respect three steps:

  1. Identifying among the data that can be captured those that are relevant for predictive models: obviated data, and non-obviated data (for example, it is possible to predict the body mass index from the sound of the voice);
  2. To access these data in compliance with the regulatory framework in force within data ecosystems, and to position oneself within these ecosystems under construction;
  3. Integrate the application into an economic model, adapted to use cases.

Two other articles in our beauty dossier develop the first point concerning data identification. Let’s quickly examine here the last two points that relate to the data ecosystem and the economic model of applications.


III. Data Ecosystems

The notion of health data is strictly regulated. Generally speaking, there is a movement towards a stricter framework for data in Europe and elsewhere. New ecosystems and new architectures for data infrastructures are likely to emerge and change the rules of the game to which the major existing digital platforms are accustomed. These changes aim to create and regulate a data market that includes sensitive data such as health and industrial data. The major digital platforms and public authorities will have to define this framework together. In the specific field of health data, the most ambitious visions are being driven by Japan, as well as by the Nordic countries in Europe.


IV. Business model: towards the beauty platform

Once the issues of identification and data access have been resolved, it remains to build the economic balance of the application. From this point of view, as a first approximation, the determining factor is not the R&D function, but product marketing and the correct identification of use cases.

However, what interests us at Presans is more R&D, which has always been a function exposed to the risk of lagging behind in the market, whatever the industrial sector. How to reconcile research time and business time? The digital transformation of R&D aims precisely at reducing the distance and the gap between these two levels, by setting up a digital loop to link them. What Philippe Letellier, Fellow Presans, calls the full digital loop.


Economic risk of an instrumental cosmetic

Moving from the cosmetics industry to the beauty industry is not an obvious question from an economic point of view. Cosmetic products are consumables, which is not self-evident for instrumental cosmetics. This point was discussed on in the previous article. Are there one or more models that seem particularly adapted to the digital transformation of beauty?


Convergence to a platform model?

A Nespresso style platform model could provide an answer to the question of the economic model, combining instruments and consumables. This is a new ground to explore, but the initial idea is simple.



For the beauty industry, the question is therefore no longer just about covering surfaces, but about acting on what determines the surface in depth. We could say: under the skin, the cells. Presans accompanies the R&D function in all companies active at the forefront of the transformation of the cosmetics industry into the beauty industry.