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I love it when non-tech companies find a way to integrate technology into the fabric of modern life. That was evident when Carnival cruise lines came up with a wearable for ocean cruises last year. And it happened again this week when Germany’s 140-year-old Henkel launched its Salon Labs technology to bring hair salons into the digital age.
The technology allows beauty salons to analyze your hair’s molecular structure and get a recommendation from the Schwarzkopf Professional beauty consultants for the right kind of shampoo.
The salon can then generate the shampoo on the spot with a machine that can make hundreds of different variants.
Henkel Beauty Care will show the tech at CES 2018, the big tech trade show in Las Vegas this week. In an interview with VentureBeat, Henkel marketing executive Marie-Ève Schröder said the new tech brings objective and data-driven expertise to the subjective art of caring for your hair. It enables truly custom hair products and services and helps the salon develop a deeper ongoing relationship with a customer, who can come back for multiple steps in a hair care plan.
“We want to reinvent hairdressing,” Schröder said. “We realized the world is changing so fast. Even a company like ours should explore new things.”
Düsseldorf, Germany-based Henkel brought together a variety of disciplines to create the Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab, which is a full ecosystem for quantifying and customizing hair care. It takes the guesswork out of figuring out what works for a client, said Nils Daecke, corporate vice president at Henkel Beauty Care, in an interview.
“The SalonLab ecosystem can be a real game-changer in the beauty industry,” Daecke said. “This puts the hairdresser in the center, and it reinvents the salon experience.”
First, the salon stylists can put your hair in the SalonLab Analyzer, a handheld device that analyzes strands of hair on a molecular level with near-infrared and visible light sensors to determine things like strength, moisture content, and true hair color. It can measure various points from roots to tips.
Then it runs that data through the SalonLab Consultant app, which has a proprietary algorithm developed by Henkel scientists to determine how to treat your hair. The hairdresser can adjust the recommendation as needed, and the SalonLab Customizer then creates a custom shampoo optimized for your hair.
The system can handle hundreds of different combinations of ingredients and fragrances that are mixed on the spot and dispensed in salon-sized portions or small bottles with a personalized label printed directly from the SalonLab Customizer.
The near-instant delivery is a big shift from when it would take two weeks to get a recommendation from a lab, and you can look at the results on an iPad and see the recommendation yourself. An augmented reality visualization also shows things like your true hair color. After a few weeks using the shampoo, you can come back and evaluate whether the treatment is working.
Henkel was established in 1876, and it has revenues of $22.4 billion and 50,000 employees. The pricing on the service isn’t available yet, but it will launch in the second half of 2018, starting in Europe.