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From facial inkjet printer to edible skincare: 5 beauty trends

Expect to 'print' your own serum, blue beauty products and the rise of home-grown brands

Now that 2021 has arrived and with Covid-19 still not making an exit, will a slew of beauty trends be the way forward?

According to Mr Michael Nolte, creative director of Beautystreams, a forecasting and reference platform for the global beauty industry, the coronavirus will continue to have a large impact on the industry.

He said: "In 2020, the industry showed it is indispensable and essential for many reasons, from transforming their businesses to produce essential supplies such as sanitisers... to showcasing how beauty products can lead to physical and psychological well-being."

Niche trends such as sustainability, holisticity and localism, which existed in 2019, have now been accelerated by the pandemic and will become mainstream this year.

Here are five to watch:


The focus will be on hyper-personalised skincare and smart devices that can "diagnose" skin using big data, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI).

"Big data and AI will offer levels of customisation that will revolutionise dermatology, personal care and skincare," said Mr Nolte.

The rise of bespoke skincare will bring about the need for smart skincare.

Said Dr Gladys Teo, head of research and development of Singapore brands Heure and est.lab: "Basic skincare alone is no longer adequate. We are now ready to tap smart skincare ingredients, smart cosmetic formulations and intelligent skincare devices to postpone the signifiers of ageing and better manage our skincare routine to stay timeless."

Instead of counteracting the effects of ageing, smart skincare "understands the skin's natural make-up and works with its existing state to chemically change it", she added.

Heard of a face device that scans your skin, then makes a concealer-serum on the spot to hide pigmentation and treat dark spots? That is Procter & Gamble's Opte Precision Skincare System, dubbed the first personalised hand-held inkjet printer for your face that is currently available only in the US and China.

The smart device has an enhanced digital camera that scans skin at 200 frames a second. It analyses the image using its proprietary algorithm to detect tonal differences in your skin.

It then "prints" out coloured droplets of its optimising serum (think of it as a foundation or tinted moisturiser that perfectly matches your skin tone).

The tech advancements do not stop there.

L'Oreal's Perso, unveiled at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, is a three-in-one AI-powered home system that creates skincare, foundation or lipstick on the spot, using an app and a device.

PHOTO:  L'Oreal

The app has a precise shade finder tool to dispense the perfect foundation or lipstick shade for you.

For skincare, it assesses environmental factors such as pollution, air quality and humidity, while considering enlarged pores, deep wrinkles, dark spots, loss of firmness and radiance.

The information is fed into the device to engage its three-cartridge system, which then dispenses the respective formula. The AI learns as it goes along, adapting future formulas to your results.

L'Oreal plans to roll out the system this year.

In addition, Dr Teo believes wearables will shake up the beauty industry.

Equipped with facial recognition, sensors (to detect UV exposure, skin's pH level, temperature, humidity and so on), and the ability to collect and interpret data, these gadgets will allow brands to create customised skincare products and/or recommend skincare regimens.

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Self-care, well-being and holistic approaches to beauty were already big pre-Covid, and they were amplified last year, according to Mr Nolte, adding that the movement will grow further this year.

These buzzwords align with the need to feel that we are investing in ourselves. And in light of lockdowns and mandatory mask wearing, efficacy is everything.

Ms Newby Hands, global beauty director at Net-a-Porter, said the customer's attention will shift to highly active skincare formulas and high-tech tools such as LED masks and microcurrent devices.

Priming for this, Net-a-Porter has already launched new tool-focused brands TriPollar, Dermaflash and PMD Beauty.

And in product formulas, proven active ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, retinol and peels that do a specific job will be a big focus.

Dr Teo Wan Lin, medical director of TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre, said in addition to increased interest in home devices, the emphasis will be on at-home facial treatments "because people are now a lot more conscious about spending time outside".


While supplements have been around, ingestibles are more akin to edible skincare. Other than Japanese beauty brand Orbis' Defencera in 2019 and Bobbi Brown's Evolution 18 released last year, local cosmeceutical skincare brand Recherche has launched its edible skincare range for collagen production and skin brightening.


The products are made with pure, concentrated edible skincare actives and natural plant-based ingredients, making it easily digestible with enhanced absorption.

Dr Teo's Dr TWL Lip Lab LipSerum Stick has a fully edible formula containing purified salmon roe DNA, which has anti-wrinkle and regenerative benefits, but she cautioned that ingestibles should never replace evidence-based medical treatments.


The next big focus will be blue beauty - protecting the oceans and water resources, as water is the beauty industry's most-used ingredient.

That means product formulas that contain little to no water so that synthetic preservatives do not need to be added, thus doing away with plastic packaging.


In Singapore, smaller indie brands are supporting sustainability in a big way. For instance, skincare service Glowfully not only offers products that shun nasties like parabens, phthalates, sulphates and formaldehyde, its H20 jelly mask is also a zero-waste product.

It is made with a natural ingredient extracted from red seaweed, which you can melt in 60 deg C water after use (it becomes an essence for the face or body).


With the pandemic making many consumers look inwards, local consumerism has seen an uptick.

"We can expect that local beauty will be the 'destination beauty' this year, as local consumption sustains local economies," said Mr Nolte, adding that products produced locally are also more sustainable.

Singapore has seen a growing number of born-in-Singapore beauty brands in recent years that not only provide customisation but are also sustainable and clean.


According to Mr Lim Ker Han, director of Heure and est.lab, Singapore is at the forefront of science and innovation, which is why many large beauty players, from retailers to suppliers, are setting up research and development centres here.


"We are literally at the epicentre of skincare innovation," he said. "And we hope the research and development we conduct in our labs will continue to shape the way the industry moves."

This article was first published in Her World Online (