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What Optical Components & Ever-Evolving Technologies Are Changing the Face of the Beauty Industry?

20th Oct 2021

The beauty industry is a multi-billion-pound business. According to research from Global Data, more consumers will be willing to invest even more money in the health and beauty sector in the future, making the market the fastest growing industry in the UK by 20221. Where there’s growth, technology usually follows closely behind, and the beauty industry is no exception. In this blog, Knight Optical – the leading global supplier of on-spec, metrology-tested optical components – explores the ground-breaking technologies that are set to change the face of the beauty industry as we know it. 

Driven by socioeconomic elements, such as social media, IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence), the beauty tech sector has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Now, we don’t just mean smartphone applications that show consumers their hair in different styles, cuts and colours; we’re talking about AI-driven devices that formulate at-home moisturisers that are specifically made to suit your skin’s condition in real-time and fully-fledged robotic beauticians taking the seat of your usual nail technician. 


Of course, beauty tech doesn’t have to be that phantastic – after all, those underrated smartphone applications did keep the beauty industry ticking over throughout a worldwide pandemic. There are numerous at-home technologies that we’ve seen plastered over the internet, in the news and within glossy adverts worldwide, and some even take up residence on our bathroom shelves and dressing tables.

Let’s start with some ever-present beauty tech that most are aware of. 

 Popular Beauty Tech


Dermatology devices include LED face masks for use at home. These are used for several skin-related concerns, like acne, eczema, or rosacea. The masks themselves are typically available in four colour varieties, including a red and blue light and a near-infrared (NIR) and amber type, which, of course, all make use of LED optical designs. 

Hair Removal 

Consumers drawn to long-lasting, salon-smooth skin have been bypassing traditional hair removal methods, such as shaving and waxing, and have switched onto the benefits of a more tech-savvy process. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) – or, as it’s known by the layman, ‘laser hair removal’ – has been a massive hit in recent years. The tech works by emitting light, which is absorbed by the melanin in the hair, damaging the hair follicles and, ultimately, hindering hair growth. 


Treating Wrinkles and Acne 

Hair removal isn’t the only treatment that employs IPL. This laser-based device is also used to deal with acne outbreaks, tackle unwanted wrinkles, and treat skin pigmentation. 

IPL therapy devices use a range of high-quality optical components, such as Homogenising Rods, Moulded Optics and Sapphire Lenses, for example. 

Pedicures & Manicures 

Found in every nail salon, UV lamps are commonly used to set gel nail manicures and pedicures with a super-smooth finish. This advancement in nail technology has taken the world by storm in recent years. The process works by exposing the painted nails to UV-A light, which dries and cures the polish into a sought-after glossy finish. 


UV gel pedicures and manicures work in a similar way to the technology found in sunbeds. Again, UV-A light is used here to release melanin, which causes the skin to tan. 

The Future of Beauty Tech 

The above therapies and devices are ubiquitous within the beauty industry and are treatments we’ve all become accustomed to over the past few years. But, what about the future of beauty tech? What cutting-edge devices are being used in the industry, and what can we expect to see shortly?

 Let’s explore a few models.


 …On the Production Line

Of course, the most obvious place to look for robots within the health and beauty industry is the manufacturing line. Smart, automated devices are being used throughout the world to mix, mould and manufacture leading makeup products. One such brand is the Turkish company Erkul Cosmetics, which operates eight FANUC robots on its eyeliner line2. Another is the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, which, in 2017, reported that it was experimenting with humanoid robots on its assembly line3

..Painting Your Nails

Look past – what has become in recent years – the conventional automated production line and into a newfound territory, and you’ll find robots undertaking beauty treatments. For instance, following the COVID-related drive of contactless treatments, San Francisco-based start-up company Clockwork released a robotic manicure system. The device itself is operated by sensors and cameras and captures photographs of a user’s nails to identify their shape before painting them in its client’s desired colour4.

And Clockwork isn’t the only enterprise to explore automation for health and beauty treatments. Tel Aviv- and New York-based business Nimble has also announced an automated nail painting device that uses 3D image processing and activates a small robotic arm to paint coats of polish on a user’s nail5.

…At the Hair Salon

Indeed, it’s worth noting that while today’s robots are entirely capable of cutting hair (some are helping to perform surgery after all), there simply isn’t the call to do so. That said, during a lockdown experiment, a popular YouTuber invented a hair-cutting robot that even offered him the small-talk factor that hairdressers are recognised for6.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Like many modern-day industries, the health and beauty sectors are honing in on artificial intelligence (AI). Following the pandemic, when lockdowns were initiated and social distancing was mandatory, innovators had to think outside the box for future consultations and appointments. As such, AI truly took off in 2020 as a non-contact method to perform tasks such as analysing skin and colour matching hair and facial features. However, for some advanced beauty and cosmetic enterprises, AI wasn’t a new post-COVID service, and the tech rested in a somewhat dormant position within their portfolios. What these forward-thinking brands have witnessed is a consumer increase in AI’s use as consciousness of spreading bacteria and viruses in store has grown. 

Again, Shiseido provides another excellent example from the world of beauty tech AI. The Japanese beauty giant has been embracing the tech – as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) – in its operations for several years. Such innovations include a ground-breaking skincare system that uses IoT technology to formulate a serum and moisturiser that has been specifically generated for a user’s skin7. Powered by a smartphone, the system uses front-facing cameras to take images of the skin and sends the data to the appliance, which is named Optune7. In another progressive move, the tech-savvy brand is also working towards implementing IoT and AI in its future production line8.

The Future’s Bright for the Health & Beauty Industry 

It’s important to note that the human element still plays an important role in health and beauty treatments. Therefore, AI, IoT and robotics are fixed to complement personnel here, rather than compete for labour. With such renowned labels across the health and beauty industry faithfully embracing digitisation and new technologies, the sector is primed to accommodate a pioneering community, and newfound ways of integrating optical components with revolutionary technologies are certainly on the horizon.

To view our full range of metrology-tested, custom-made and stock optical components for beauty tech applications, head to our website here:

Why Choose Knight Optical for your Application? 

Discerning customers rely on Knight Optical not only for the premium quality of our output and in-house state-of-the-art Metrology Laboratory and QA Department‘s capabilities but because – as well as a range of Stock Optics (available for next-day dispatch) – we also offer our optics as Custom-Made Components.

This year, we’re celebrating 30 years in business. With three decades’ experience under our belt and a whole host of long-standing world-renowned customers on our books, we are proud to have worked on some of the most ground-breaking innovations.

If you are looking for premium-quality, bespoke optical components, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Technical Sales Team today.