They say necessity is the mother of invention, and while at-home beauty tools—think LED masks and microcurrent devices—existed before 2020, forced disconnection from skin-care professionals during pandemic lockdowns caused consumers to engage with them at exponentially higher rates than they had before. This newfound “tech-ceptance,” as trend forecaster WGSN terms it, did not disappear when estheticians’ and dermatologists’ offices opened back up, either. Instead, consumers who’d learned to take beauty tech into their own hands continued doing so, and brands have been busily innovating to meet this increased demand. As a result, the category is poised to see even more growth in 2022.$90b
As of 2020, the global home-use beauty devices market was valued at approximately $9.5 billion in 2020, according to a report by the market research firm P&S Intelligence, and it's expected to grow to nearly $90 billion in the next decade. And while millennials and Gen X'ers are responsible for a lot of growth in this category, says Lisa Payne, senior beauty editor for trends intelligence agency Stylus, trendsetting Gen Z is buying in, too.
This intergenerational appeal can be explained in part by the fact that demand for at-home beauty tools goes beyond aesthetics. Consumers of all ages are more interested in their physical well-being than ever before, says Anne-Catherine Auvray, executive editor of products at beauty trend insight company BeautyStreams, and endeavors to optimize their health have extended to their body's largest organ. At the same time, skin is more at risk for health-related issues than ever before: Pollution, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and hormonal issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), all of which affect the health and appearance of skin, are on the rise, and consumers are looking for solutions. "Technology-savvy consumers, from baby boomers to Gen Z, want to improve the health of their skin in an effective way and are turning to beauty devices to help them achieve their self-care goals," says Auvray.
The at-home device category includes a range of products reliant on various types of technology. Under its umbrella fall products that utilize the following: light and therapy, such as LED light masks and the Lyma laser; microcurrent, or low levels of electricity that help give the skin a lifted appearance; galvanic current, which sends a different type of electric current into the skin to increase blood circulation, promote cell renewal, and tone muscles; vibration therapy, or the transmission of acoustic sound waves into the skin to stimulate the facial muscles responsible for fine lines; radiofrequency therapy, which sculpts and tightens the skin; and more.
"Having healthy skin isn’t just about going to the dermatologist or esthetician a few times a year. It’s about taking care of your skin daily—after all, you don’t do things like taking a multivitamin or exercising just once a year, and skin care is the same.” Rathi Srinivas, founder of Droplette
None of this is to say, however, that at-home devices have replaced professional treatments; consumers are simply realizing that they can help maintain their skin-care efforts at home between office visits. "Having healthy skin isn’t just about going to the dermatologist or esthetician a few times a year," agrees Rathi Srinivas, founder of Droplette, an electromechanical device that turns skin-care serums into a mist that can penetrate deep into pores. “It’s about taking care of your skin daily—after all, you don’t do things like taking a multivitamin or exercising just once a year, and skin care is the same.”
The at-home beauty tech industry is throttling full-steam into 2022, with notable players in the space having already launched new products in the fourth quarter of this year. For example, the ZIIP device, which uses microcurrent technology to stimulate the production of new collagen fibers in order to reduce acne and wrinkles, relaunched its app this fall to include instructions for full professional-grade at-home facials, targeted treatments, and longer-term, results-driven treatment plans. Also this fall, Nebulyft launched a new, more effective iteration of its flagship radiofrequency (RF) device, which uses a toned-down version of the high-temperature RF therapies performed in skin-care clinics in order to tighten skin. MZ Skin, meanwhile, launched a new LED mask in October, which has been shown in clinical trials to improve inflammatory acne by 77.9 percent in eight weeks and reduce wrinkle depth by 36 percent in four weeks. The MMSphere 2Go, an on-the-go version of MMSkincare’s at-home LED device, launched this fall as well.
As for what to expect in the new year, Payne says many brands are keeping new releases close to the vest until the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place in January. And indeed, founders Well+Good spoke to for this piece were cryptic about the near future, though a few teasers did manage to slip through: Georgia Louise says her eponymous skin-care brand will be launching a techy multitasking tool in 2022; Nebulyft CEO Arthur Zhang says the brand will be releasing an app to help users track and personalize their treatments; and ZIIP founder Melanie Simon hints at a lower price point entry into the market. Dennis Gross, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, says his brand, which helped popularize at-home beauty tech with its popular DRx Spectralite FaceWare Pro LED mask, has new tools in the works as well.
If all this mystique leaves you hungry for more intel, these experts are predicting that a few specific types of tools will be big in 2022. Light therapy, e.g. LED face masks, will continue to lead the category, according to trend forecasters. Louise, meanwhile, predicts that the galvanic current and radiofrequency device spaces will both see significant expansion in 2022.
“For a long time, the restraint on the growth rate of beauty tech products was their high price, but a new wave of devices with affordable price tags now caters to the mass market.” Anne-Catherine Auvray, executive editor of products at BeautyStreams
Sarah Brown, executive director of the Violet Lab at beauty retailer Violet Grey, also forecasts growth in devices that optimize the benefits of your topical skin care products. One device that falls into this category, for example, is Droplette, a tool launched in 2020 that claims to infuse ingredients 20 times more deeply than regular application will thanks to its misting delivery system. Payne, meanwhile, predicts a rise in artificial-intelligence-related tech tools for personalized skin care and skin consultations that make it easier for consumers to create their own bespoke skin-care experience at home, as though they had an esthetician or dermatologist in their pocket. The forthcoming Nebulyft app aligns with this prediction.
And finally, Payne foresees more at-home tools becoming easy and convenient to use, say, from your desk—imagine a microcurrent device, for example, that’s hands-free to use, like an LED mask. She attributes the exponential success of LED masks in large part to such ease of use. Esthetician Shani Darden agrees, citing complicated technology as one barrier to entry into at-home tools. She attributes the success of her Facial Sculpting Wand not just to its efficacy, but also to its ability to be used while multitasking. Zhang says Nebulyft is currently innovating in this direction as well.
Another barrier to entry for many people who might want to try one of these futuristic devices is price point, especially when compared to the generally more affordable topical skin-care market. According to Auvray, “For a long time, the restraint on the growth rate of beauty tech products was their high price, but a new wave of devices with affordable price tags now caters to the mass market.” Some examples of devices you can call yours for less than $200 include an LED acne-treating device from LightStim ($169), the Foreo Espada blue-light acne treatment ($149), the NuFace FIX microcurrent device ($149), SolaWave’s blue-light therapy wand ($139), and a high-frequency “acne-zapping” wand from Skin Gym ($95). Such safe, easy-to-use, and *actually* effective tools are the future of non-professional skin care. "Once exclusive to dermatologist and esthetician practices, at-home beauty devices—before considered ineffective and costly gimmicks—have really advanced over the years and are now considered an alternative to medical aesthetic treatments by many beauty enthusiasts worldwide," says Auvray. "Tools are upping the skin-care game considerably.”
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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shani Darden