For the first time in its history, the annual tech event CES invited a beauty brand – and the largest beauty company in the world – to deliver its opening keynote.
L’Oréal Groupe’s CEO Nicolas Hieronimus took centre stage to discuss how technology will increasingly power the industry.
Sustainability, universalisation, and groundbreaking innovation were the key themes of Nicolas Hieronimus’ slick 90-minute keynote at CES Tuesday morning, which addressed 2,000-plus show-goers in the Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The talk was an opportunity for Hieronimus to share the beauty giant’s key turning points throughout its 115-year history, including the 1973 coining of its enduring tag line ‘Because I’m Worth It’, the halt to animal testing 35 years ago (14 years before it was outlawed in the U.S.), and L’Oréal’s development of the world’s first reconstructed human epidermis in the early Eighties.
However, given the context of the event, much of Hieronimus’ address focused on the future, particularly new tech-based products.
“You may wonder why we’re discussing beauty at CES,” he said. “Because at L’Oréal, we believe that tech can push the boundaries of what’s possible to help us improve the lives of consumers around the world and cater to the infinite diversity of beauty needs and aspirations of every individual.” Hieronimus described L’Oréal as a “digital-first” company, adding that each of its 37 brands uses technologies recurrent at CES, such as Web 3.0, the Cloud, and Generative A.I. “to change the world around us.”
Hieronimus was joined on stage by L’Oréal’s Barbara Lavernos, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Research and Technology, as well as actress/director/producer Eva Longoria, who is one of L’Oréal’s ambassadors, to showcase its hair colour product Colorsonic, which debuted in 2022.
L’Oréal’s AirLight Pro hairdryer.
Over the course of 45 minutes, several other L’Oréal innovations were discussed, including the company’s Beauty Genius app, which is powered by Generative AI, augmented reality, computer vision, and colour science. The app allows anyone to ask questions about hair, skin, or makeup and get real-time personalised advice and accurate diagnoses, said Lavernos.
Lavernos also broke the news that L’Oréal had fully acquired Swiss water-tech start-up Gjosa, best known for its water-efficient shower head, Water Saver, which launched in 2021. The technology allows the shower head to use smaller droplets of water while retaining high pressure, which looks to save salons 69% of the water they use in their back bars. The Water Saver is now used in 15,000 salons in Europe, saving some 70 million gallons of water; Lavernos said that another 100,000 salons around the world will be outfitted with the technology in the coming years.
In product launch news, Hieronimus unveiled the AirLight Pro, a next-gen hairdryer that looks to boost excitement in the hair tools category. Developed in conjunction with hardware startup Zuvi, Airlight Pro uses air and infrared technology to minimize damage to hair while expediting the drying process, all while delivering 31% less energy consumption. It can be used on all hair types.
“Together, we rethought how to generate heat using a process inspired by nature. No more thermal rods, but a high-performing combination of infrared light and air that is better for the hair and for the environment,” he said. The Airlight Pro is equipped with a special 17-blade, high-speed motor and patented infrared technology powered by tungsten–halogen bulbs designed for fast hair drying without excessive heat. By efficiently drying water on the hair surface, hair is left with internal moisture in the strand resulting in smooth, shiny hair. The tool was created by a team of more than 100 engineers, designers, hairstylists, and scientists.
The product will roll out this year to select salons in the U.S. and Europe by the company’s salon pro brand, L’Oréal Professionnel, and will be marketed to professionals as well as consumers.
“It’s a great example of the transformative role of tech, and the perfect embodiment of our strategy to become the world leader in beauty tech,” he said.
(First published by CEW US, Written by Kavita Daswani)