Since time immemorial women have been using various aids to enhance their beauty. Between the ancient times and the advancement of scientific techniques, we have seen the phenomenal growth of the beauty and cosmetics business. We have seen the modernisation of beauty treatments from ancient Egypt to the present day. We have also seen and experienced the heights of product innovations, using research and development of cosmetic techniques. New ingredients are being researched and used and then promoted as the next best beauty discovery. Even ingredients from ancient texts are being combined with scientific techniques to formulate beauty products. Each product claims to be better than the previous one.
We have also been through basic customised beauty care, formulating products for different skin and hair types. Even here, there is a kind of generalisation and the theory of ‘different skin types’ does not take into account the many differences there are between one individual and the other. Through these years, branding has become important. The customer starts believing that using a certain branded product will make her look like the brand’s ambassador. Actually, the product she uses has not really taken into account her personal characteristics and features. But, Artificial Intelligence is changing all of this.
What is Artificial Intelligence? Actually intelligence itself is difficult to define, so one can imagine how complex the concept of Artificial Intelligence must be! In fact, the definition itself has undergone changes, since the developments have been so rapid. The basic and simple definition refers to ‘machine that imitate human behaviour’. However, this is too simple a definition, because a machine maybe made in a way that it imitates human behaviour, but can it imitate human intelligence? Experts say that computer programmes can be made to imitate human behaviour, but the programme must be such that it ‘must be able to do many different things in order to be called intelligent’.
As far as Beauty is concerned, programming has helped to prepare a database that can take many individual characteristics into account, so that it is possible to manufacture a product that is specifically meant for an individual, rather than conforming to broader specifications of ‘skin types’. Advances in technology can help to further machine learning with Artificial Intelligence, so that it becomes possible to find a custom made product for each individual.
When I started my first herbal salon, more than four decades ago, I followed the principle of customised beauty care, at the client card level. The details of the individual client would be noted down in the Client Card. Apart from the basic, details of allergies, history and past treatments would also be noted down. In a way, we were preparing a data base. But, now with computer programming, it is possible to create an immense data base, with more detail. The customer herself can refer to the virtual card and refer to it while searching for a custom based product.
There are beauty brands abroad, who are adopting Artificial Intelligence to create personalised products that are specifically tailored for customers. The ‘search’ for products will also have to be detailed and specific, so that the customer can make the connection among the different categories of products, ingredients, the different key words in order to select the best suited product. Most online retailing outlets do have ‘chats’ where the customer can be helped to find the products best suited. However, machines will have to be programmed to take many other distinctions into account, like geographical location, climate, skin colour, ethnic background, and so on.
With the help of Artificial Intelligence, the customer may be able to find a skin profile that is totally personalised and unique, so much so that it may not fit any other person. If such detailed data is taken into account by product developers, it maybe possible to make similar products, with or without a particular ingredient, which is suited to one, but not to the other. In fact, one can consider including the medical aspect to find solutions for skin problems. Medical professionals or pharmacists may also be involved to work out the different aspects of the programming.
It seems the possibilities are limitless with further development of technology. But, I still feel that at some point, the human factor must come in. For instance, only a human being can say whether a particular product feels good or not, whether it really does all that it promises to do. We cannot rely totally on machines and Artificial Intelligence.