Henkel brings tech to beauty salons with custom hair analysis

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 last year with a wearable for ocean cruises. And it showed again this week as Germany’s Henkel, a 140-year-old company, launched its Salon Labs technology to bring hair salons into the digital age.

With it, beauty salons can 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. Or it can get the shampoo delivered by Amazon within a couple of hours.

Above: Henkel’s hair analyzer.

Image Credit: Henkel

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 trying to take care of your hair. It enables truly custom hair products and services, and enables a salon to have 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.”

Above: The Henkel hair customizer develops your custom shampoo.

Image Credit: Henkel

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 guess work 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 which 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.

Above: Henkel can evaluate your hair’s condition.

Image Credit: Henkel

Then it runs it through the SalonLab Consultant app, which has a proprietary algorithm developed by Henkel scientists to determine how to treat it. The hairdresser can adjust the recommendation as needed. Then the SalonLab Customizer creates a custom shampoo to treat your hair.

That shampoo is based on a recipe that is unique for you. It can do hundreds of different combinations of ingredients and fragrances can be mixed on the spot and dispensed in salon-sized portions or small bottles with a personalized label printed directly from the SalonLab Customizer.

As an example, hair that is week can break during bleaching or straightening.

After a few weeks, you can come back and evaluate whether the treatment is working. The near-instant delivery of the shampoo compares to the past when it would take two weeks to get a recommendation from a lab. You can look at the results on an iPad and see the recommendation yourself. An augmented reality visualization shows things like the true hair color.

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. It will launch in the second half of 2018, starting in Europe.