Kaia Gerber and Kit Keenan, who? Supermodel spawn and designer descendants alike, step aside. The face of the future in the brave new world of beauty is — wait for it — you.
And why not, really? In our millennial-led milieu of me-me-me-ness, it stands to reason that customised concoctions created “just for you” would seduce shoppers sick of the same old, same old.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, industry insiders are elated over the endless possibilities proffered by personalised potions. “I foresee one-of-a-kind skincare services gaining a ton of traction,” declares Dr Tan Ying Zhou, medical director of Mizu Aesthetic Clinic. “Not only because of the potential benefits to patients, but also because there simply is a skyrocketing demand for said services.”
But with customisation comes complication. Expect a slew of sciencey lingo to enter the lexicon — we’re talking deep-diving into “an individual’s phenotypes and genotypes” so as to allow your skin specialist “to concoct the correct cosmeceuticals for you”, explains Dr Ian Tan, medical doctor at IDS Clinic. In other words, cosmetologists want to crack your genetic code to paint a picture of your predisposition to say, the formation of freckles — with the end goal being to prescribe products based on your DNA blueprint. (Vaguely creepy in a Minority Report sort of way, I know.)
This form of DNA testing is far from being the stuff of science fiction. A burgeoning brigade of exciting enterprises the likes of GeneU, Imagene Labs and iDNNA are already at your disposal, should you wish to submit yourself to scrutiny via a saliva swab. What’s in it for you? Dr Ian Tan says that scanning for specific genetic markers may allow you to anticipate and address afflictions like acne and alopecia down the road. (Fun fact: Imagene Labs also throws in tidbits on well, tidbits. Apparently, I’ve been told that sipping on bone broth may boost collagen production, so drink up.)
"Beauty buffs will soon be spoilt for choice when selecting skincare for compatibility with one’s climate and complexion — a most delicious dilemma, if you ask me."
Moving on to bigger — and bloodier — endeavours. Enter stem cell therapy, a sequel of sorts to the infamous “vampire facial”. But what in Dracula’s name are stem cells good for? Think of these mysterious molecules as shape-shifters which may morph into whatever they please. The implications are immense: Sabrina Tan, founder and CEO of Skin Inc, claims that (near) magic can happen when components culled from stem cells are steeped into the skin, with the platelets potentially promoting cell renewal and deterring the development of creases on your complexion. Ergo, stem cell treatments may hold the secret to quite literally turning back the (wrinkly) hands of time.
Dr Barbara Sturm — the Bram Stoker behind the aforementioned vampire facial — is equally bullish over this entire blood business, telling me that she envisions a mushrooming of medical facilities offering injectable stem cell therapy in the next decade or so. “Treatments will involve drawing blood samples, inducing ‘micro-injuries’ to stimulate the formation of healing factors, and then injecting the anti-inflammatory compounds back into your face,” explains Dr Sturm. Bonus: Once these proteins are procured from your own blood, they’ll also be fused into the formulas of the complementary creams comprising your post-treatment upkeep. This regime epitomises the dictionary definition of “customisation” — absolutely no one walking this earth will be privy to precisely the same stuff you’re slathering on your skin.
Crucial caveat: Shooting yourself up with stem cells is at present not sanctioned in Singapore, although there’s a close second in the form of a fairly new innovation from the fabled capital of K-beauty (where else, right?). “Rejuran Healer is an approved Korean DNA-based polynucleotide injectable,” says Dr Tan Ying Zhou. “These polynucleotides may assist in the repair of damaged skin cells for a more youthful countenance.” I’ve glimpsed a flash of the future and all I can say is this: Needle-phobes need to be very, very afraid.
That said, squeamish folks needn’t freak out too much, as clinical carnage wouldn’t be the only way to skin a cat (so to speak). Topical treatments will still have their spot on your #TopShelf — but with all bets being on pedestrian “off-the-rack” products being edged out, slowly but surely, by bespoke blends the likes of Skin Inc’s My Daily Dose Custom-Blended Serum Cocktail.
Another individualised item worth sussing out is Kiehl’s Since 1851 Apothecary Preparations, a consultation-cum-customisation service that evokes the American apothecary’s pharmaceutical provenance (you’ll be prescribed a serum that’s presented in a pleasingly medicinal dropper dispenser). There’s also the deluge of doctor-endorsed cosmeceuticals to contend with. Mizu Aesthetic Clinic, for instance, stocks an in-house and take-home collection that claims to contain “live stem cells” to calm and comfort your distressed dermis.
Meanwhile, Dr Sturm (the self-proclaimed “mother of customised skincare”) can be found peddling her eponymous line on Net-a-porter.com, with best-sellers including her luxuriously lightweight Sun Drops. Here’s an insider tip courtesy of yours truly: Dispense said Sun Drops into your favourite fluid foundation, then use this salve as a supercharged SPF-infused concealer on brown blemishes. The takeaway? Beauty buffs will be spoilt for choice when selecting skincare for compatibility with one’s climate and complexion — a most delicious dilemma, if you ask me.
"Now, all of this isn’t to say you should bin your bargain buys — much like fast fashion has its worth in wearability for the masses, drugstore products will always have populist appeal in the beauty department."
Expect a similar tilt towards tailor-made tinctures in the world of warpaint, with colour cosmetics taking a cue from the elusive and exclusive bespoke benefits extended to VVIPs by the fanciest fashion houses.
This mixing and matching of makeup is a favourite fixture of backstage beauty, and it really isn’t all that complicated. The trick to creating “cosmetics couture”, if you will, is to compile a closet of flesh-toned “dresses” — from the slinkiest and sheerest of lingerie to the most opaque and opulent of gowns — to be layered over each other when the occasion calls for it.
For guidance, one need only look to maquillage master Terry de Gunzburg, the inventor of that most iconic of illuminators (that’d be YSL’s Touche Éclat, natch). Think of de Gunzburg’s By Terry Chromatheque as the prêt-à-porter path to prettiness — you get to peruse over 500,000 (!) pigments to recreate that red lippie you saw on that Italian ingénue in your fiancé’s favourite indie film.
The most monied clientele with bottomless budgets can consider By Terry’s Haute Couleur service, in which you’re privy to all the in-house ingredients you need to virtually create your own micro-beauty brand. Just about anything is possible: By Terry’s top technicians will scour the ends of the earth for specific shades to fabricate a foundation that fits you, and only you. Textures can even be tweaked for travel — you’ll be conferred that same foundie in a finish for Finland and another for Fiji.
Us mere mortals can experience a modicum of that kind of kingly exclusivity via Eyeko’s Eyeko Bespoke online service that matches your mascara wand to your favoured formula; or Clinique’s BIY Pigment Drops and Cover FX’s Custom Enhancer Drops, both of which are blendable for a bespoke base you can well and truly call your own.
Now, all of this isn’t to say you should bin your bargain buys — much like fast fashion has its worth in wearability for the masses, drugstore products will always have populist appeal in the beauty department.
So here’s the real deal. Speaking as an industry insider, the trend towards tailored treatments is terrific for one radical reason: I believe it compels us to concede that everyone — you, me, her, him — are individuals with individual insecurities and idiosyncrasies. And if that dawning realisation encourages empathy in the face of this toxic Trumpian dystopia we’re living in, then the future of beauty will be one of profound prospect and promise.