Beauty Tech: How Technology Will Transform the UK Beauty Market

Alex Tomchenko, CEO of beauty tech startup Glambook, explores…


According to the British Beauty Council, the beauty industry contributes over £6 billion to the UK economy every year. In 2021, the amount spent at the UK’s hairdressers and personal care salons reached £8.6 billion.

The beauty industry had a difficult period during the pandemic; however, with the relaxation of social distancing restrictions by the second half of 2021 and the new technological trends, the industry is recovering to pre-pandemic levels. As the National Hair & Beauty Federation state of the industry report shows, over 40% of beauty industry players want to grow their business, 41% remain the same size, and 17% intend to downsize it. 


Digital tools for independent beauty professionals

As market experts notice, the industry is shifting towards a hybrid treatment approach. The new market growth factors are at-home treatment products and mobile therapists. In 2020 60% of people working in hairdressing and barbering were self-employed, and the percentage of independent beauty professionals was 65%. They use digital tools to create their brands and grow their audiences online—for instance, Glambook is an international SaaS platform for independent beauty professionals and their clients.

Customers can find the best deal in their city by filtering price, service reviews, and location. Glambook has more than 10,000 self-employed professionals registered on the platform from London, Berlin, Milan, and 50 other cities across Europe. The platform enables beauty professionals to have flexible working conditions: they can choose how to provide their services — at home, at the client’s place, in some co-working space, or a salon. In addition, beauty experts can showcase their work on the platform, find new clients, launch promotional campaigns, and easily control their work through a CRM system.


Virtual try-on features

According to GlobalData, the UK cosmetics and toiletries e-commerce market increased 42% in value terms in 2020. Beauty brands offer interactive tools to different try-on products on their websites and apps. AR enables consumers to experiment with various products and looks. For example, Sephora’s “Virtual Artist,” developed in partnership with the AR company ModiFace, scans your face and lets you try on different looks.

Users can experiment with lip colours, eyeshadows, and false lash styles. MAC Cosmetics launched a virtual try-on feature in partnership with the application YouCam, which allows customers to explore beauty products before purchasing. AR experiences help to increase customer engagement – Ulta Beauty notes that consumer engagement for its virtual try-on tool called GlamLab increased five times.



Personalised approach

Data collected from customers allows brands to develop personalised products and services. According to Outform’s research, 43% of Millennials in the age 25-34 value personalisation from health and beauty brands the most in the UK. For example, Lancome developed Le Teint Particulier, a custom-made foundation with one-of-a-kind foundation shade and preferred coverage. 

Beauty services are also becoming tailor-made. For instance, an online skincare recommendation system and concierge service called Renude helps to create the best skincare routine. Each routine is hand-selected by beauty experts based on user questionnaire responses, skin images, and video consultation. The data help aestheticians make decisions through machine learning and computer vision technology.


New customer generation 

The new generation of consumers, Gen Z, see beauty brands as entities they can access through different touchpoints, including physical and digital. They expect the same quality experience in-store, website, and on social media. Technology plays a significant role in their purchase decisions: 36% of Gen-Zs aged 18-24 use digital in-store displays, and 33% of them say that online make-up tutorials are essential. 

Technology is transforming how customers choose and purchase beauty products and services. As a result, the overall trend is shifting towards mobile therapists and independent beauty professionals who use digital tools to develop their brands. Data is used to create personalised features and provide clients with the services they are looking for.