More than 110 years after introducing the first hair color in the U.S., and 50 years after launching the first hair color for home use, L’Oréal Group today announced two new technology-driven products that were each seven years in the making.
L’Oréal has the longest hair coloration heritage, dominating the $10 billion dollar industry. A century later, the company is drawing on its hair coloration leadership by transforming the industry with breakthrough innovations powered by cutting-edge technology alongside precise formulation.
Colorsonic, a lightweight, handheld device answers one of the biggest complaints from consumers who color their hair at home by eliminating the mess. The device mixes the hair color and applies it evenly to deliver consistent at-home results.
For salons, L’Oréal is launching an AR-connected hair color system that uses Virtual Try-on to project shades, and an algorithm that offers hair color in more than 1,500 custom options.
“If you look at the field of hair color there’s been all kinds of innovations in terms of the formulas, but there’s been very little about how to do the application at home,” Guive Balooch, head of the L’Oréal Technology Incubator, said in an interview. “The challenge and barrier has been the anxiety of the process, which includes mixing the color, the mess and the gloves you have to use.”
In the end, after all the effort, the color can come out patchy, Balooch said, adding, “These are the problems we wanted to solve with Colorsonic. The technology was completely invented in-house It has over 15 patents.”
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“L’Oréal’s BeautyTech leadership allows us to push the boundaries of tech multiplied by science for breakthroughs in more personalized, inclusive and sustainable beauty experiences” said Barbara Lavernos, deputy CEO in charge of research, innovation and technology.
The Colorsonic device works with a cardboard cartridge containing hair color, which consumers purchase separately and comes in 40 shades. Inside the Colorsonic, the cartridge is mixed, and the perfect dosage and amount of hair color is dispensed from an oscillating nozzle of bristles that move in a zigzag pattern to evenly distribute it on the hair.
“It applies evenly and smoothly, on curly hair, straight hair, long hair or short hair,” Balooch siad. “We tested it on over 400 people in five years of testing. It takes the process of hair color and makes it super easy. There’s no mess, no patchiness, it’s clean and you use all the formula. The device also stores unused formula, which you can use to touch up the roots.”
The French beauty giant spent four years developing the cartridge, which is fully recyclable. Compared to a normal box of hair color, there’s 54 percent less plastic and because there’s no mess, reusable gloves can be used, saving up to 23 tons of gloves using the technology, Balooch said.
Balooch stopped short of saying Colorsonic will make boxed hair color obsolete. “This technology will be sold at the same locations as the hair color box kits are sold, but at a price point where people can afford it at a mass retailer,” he said, adding that buying the device requires an investment. The price has yet to be set as the launch is still a year away.
“The cartridge system will be a little more premium,” Balooch said. “If we see in the end that people adopt it, it will be a good thing because the formula that’s inside the device is among the best formulas you can imagine from our company, the best shades of anomia-free vibrant colors. Over time, if we see people love the tool, the hope would be that this would continue to grow.”
According to L’Oréal, when the Covid-19 pandemic caused the temporary closure of many salons, the at-home hair color business grew by 6%. During this time, more consumers experienced the challenges of an at-home hair coloring process that has remained virtually unchanged for decades, especially the messiness of hair dye and the difficulty of applying hair color to hard-to-reach places.
Besides transforming the at home hair color experience, L’Oréal is launching in 2023 a system for hair salons. The beauty company is launching Coloright, an AR-connected hair color system for salon stylists that creates on-demand, customized hair color.
It puts innovation in the hands of professional colorists and customizes the salon hair color experience. Powered by a patented algorithm, Coloright offers more precise shades. The machine features a reader, which analyzes the client’s hair, measuring factors that influence color’s effectiveness, including hair color, gray percentage, length, and density.
The dispenser contains dry beads consisting of hair dye, accompanied by cartridges of base creams, developers and diluters. Together, these dispensed components create a personalized hair color recipe. The ultra-precise machine dispenses all the components of the formula with more than 1,500 custom shade possibilities.
“The challenge for people who go to the salon isn’t the mess or the time, it’s making sure that I get the right color every time I go,” Balooch said. “If I move to another salon or move to another city, they’ll have the hair color history data for my hair so that I can get the right color, and that doesn’t exist today. We developed this system that will enable colorists to apply color in the most effective way and enable people to have a data-driven experience with their hair color.
Coloright, which has advanced optics, takes an image of the inside of your hair that goes into a tablet that the hair colorist uses. The tablet, with augmented reality capabilities, shows clients what the color will look like before it’s applied. “The stylist then does their artistry and applies the perfect hair color. It’s a complete digitalization of the salon,” Balooch said.
Salons have several options for using Coloright. The machine can be used with L’Oreal’s formulas, or salons can opt for a “lighter version” of just the tablet and a reader, which will give them the recipes of the current formulas they have on hand.
“We tried to make it as agile as possible,” Balooch said. “Salons don’t have to get the fully personalized formulas. The algorithm can work two ways, it will give you the perfect shade out of 1,500 options, or it can give you a recipe for the current brand that you have in your salon.”
Both Colorsonic and Coloright will launch in 2023. “They’re basically reinventing the way you apply hair color,” Balooch said.