2020 Vision – The beauty in tech

We live in an online world, and there has never been more evidence of its importance than the events of this year. If there is one thing to say for this industry, it’s adaptive. You can maintain a personal training programme, enjoy hand-mixed lipstick customisation with Code-8 Virtual Colour Lab, or even book a skincare consultation with Glowday, all online. Visiting your local beauty hall of Harvey Nichols for an appointment might feel like a distant memory. Now, as just one of the many online meeting spots, Zoom reported 300 million daily meetings in April 2020. Up from 10 million in December 2019, this is where your next beauty consultation might be held. 

Beauty device technology is becoming more advanced and more accessible for home use – and that is perfect for right now. Developed in 1995, until recently dermarolling was offered only in salons. However, the GloPRO by Beauty Bio cosmetic microneedling tool is a safe and simple at-home option. Dermarolling involves the application of fine needles, up to a couple of millimetres in length that puncture the skin. Its intended purpose is to kick-start collagen and elastin production and improve the skin’s appearance (fine lines, large pores or scarring) as healing ensues. As a more gentle sibling of this treatment, the GloPRO is minimally invasive with much shorter 0.3mm needles, not enough to puncture the top layer of the skin – the epidermis. These microchannels, created by the roller actively, help the skin to absorb your usual skincare, preventing it from sitting on the surface.

With my first use, I performed a patch test on clean skin across my jawline. Making sure to avoid any blemishes and applying with no more pressure than the weight of the GloPRO itself, I checked my skin’s sensitivity to the action. I was pleasantly surprised: there was no pain, just a tingle. A minimal amount of redness straight after showed stimulation, but no more than might be achieved from a chemical exfoliant.

Beautybio’s suggested treatment plan is 60 seconds for the full face, using different directional motion, three times a week. The most obvious change over a month was the clarity of my skin: my pores were tighter and there was relief from its usual areas of congestion. Even better, fine lines around my lips and deeper lines (starting to settle in, a little more than just dehydration) on my forehead were becoming less visible, with a bouncy glow overall. 

With extra tech than just a standard microneedling tool, this single device uses a trio of technologies. Red LED therapy is clinically proven to boost the skin’s own healing and vibrotactile action softly ripples through the skin’s structure to stimulate skin cells without physical interference, with both playing a strong role in collagen production. The new Men’s Scalp and Beard Set offers all of the same benefits but with different treatment areas in mind. Designed for areas with compromised hair growth – say, a receding hairline or patchy stubble – the tool has a larger product head to evenly treat the cheeks and scalp. It’s clinically proven with regular use to reduce hair thinning within six months, when paired with their Scalp and Beard Serum.

Now and again I am in awe of what the industry comes up with – and RÉDUIT has really blown me away. When I first heard about these palm-sized beauty devices, I was intrigued. But I will readily admit, sceptical too. RÉDUIT (French translation: reduced) works on the premise that the creams and balms of traditional skin and hair care are ineffective. They believe that current day products, with their redundant filler ingredients, are not formulated to provide sufficient uptake of the product itself. If the product isn’t being fully absorbed, how will its key ingredients? Their unique system, with state-of-the-art skinpod and hairpod applications, is a response to these issues, whilst simultaneously reducing packaging.

What feels as a light vibration when held, each device provides ultrasonic diffusion of your chosen liquid-based treatment, creating a super-fine mist up to 50 times more diffuse than any standard spray. Magnetic dispersion further increases absorption potential by reducing the surface tension of your chosen product, the final application absorbing into the skin or hair seemingly instantly, with no trace of stickiness, heaviness or surplus.

As someone with chronically fine hair, the RÉDUIT One has been an absolute game-changer for treatments and styling. Usual strengthening treatments or hydrating oils weigh down my hair, creating greasiness and product excess. The device is beautifully ergonomic, curved to my hand and scooping around each section of hair. I follow the lengths with Vapored Strength misting away. Except for the noticeable improvement of the feel of my hair and overall health with its prolonged use, by sight or touch, there are no tell-tale signs of any product, just an alluring jasmine scent.

Offering styling options too, Shine Diffusion LED smooths frizz with the addition of phenyl trimethicone, working to improve the texture of damaged hair, thus supporting suppleness and natural glow. In fact, so light are the hairpods that I can support even the finest hair framing my face. Green LED therapy balances the scalp, creating harmony between potential oiliness and natural shine. 

Even more surprising is the RÉDUIT Spa. Unafraid as I am of using oils and full-bodied cold-cream style moisturisers, the thought of using merely a serum-style liquid on my skin was scary. Will it be enough to hydrate? How will my skin react to the direct application of the ingredients? All worries were quelled on waking up after using Clear Dew overnight. The delicate, cooling mist is traceless on my skin but the ingredients are influential. Potassium azeloyl diglycinate works quickly to significantly control oil production, whilst its antibacterial qualities prevent breakouts. Meanwhile, chrysanthellum indicum (golden chamomile) soothes skin, reducing inflammation and redness. It’s the perfect antidote to the current maskne struggles. 

Even Hydro Boost, their liquid daily moisturiser, is unlike anything I have tried before. Betaine on the ingredients list is naturally present in the body already as a hydration regulator. The formula offers moisture as light as a feather, undetectable to the touch, yet still keeping my skin comfortable and perfectly balanced throughout the day. I can’t tell you how excited I am to take this with me whilst travelling. Maybe it’s been too long, but I’m dreaming of its light top-ups of comfort on a long-haul flight, or weightless hydration in hot, humid weather.

Cleansing is an integral part of skincare, but I’m very sure we are all guilty of scrimping on the time we spend performing the task from time to time. The Clean Up Your Act sonic wave cleaning brush by Temple Spa injects a little more routine into your routine. Used alongside your daily cleanser (from foaming to cream and gel to lotions, it works with every formulation) one-click activates more than 130 sonic pulsations per second to amplify the effects of your cleanser. Graduated bristles of silicone glide across the skin, purifying and buffing. An interval pulse lets you know it’s time to move on to another area. The result is the cleanest and softest your skin will feel, with no effort required and absolutely no irritation at all, as could be seen from, say, a face cloth or sponge. 

Its dual-purpose offers rejuvenation too. On double-clicking the centre button, low-frequency ultrasonic waves radiate from the rippled end of the brush. Try this at the end of your cleanse, or with oil during your skincare regime. The curved design follows contours of the cheekbones and jaw, stimulating skin cells past the superficial layers, boosting your natural glow and assisting in smoothing fine lines and toning the face. 

For anything else niggling you can’t fix at home, Glowday is your bible. Unsure of what your skin needs? Book an online skincare consultation to discuss your skincare worries. After a conversation with your practitioner, you’ll have an in-depth diagnosis, a personalised regime and prescription-only medical-grade skincare options. Having already seen a surge in appointments after the first UK lockdown lifted, the directory offers verified practitioners of medicalised beauty across the country. With the average research period before undertaking aesthetic treatment varying wildly between six months and eight years, Glowday offers a one-stop-shop. From research through consultation to booking, their treatment guides ensure you are in the know before you see your chosen practitioner.  

Regarding fitness and training, the phrase ‘No pain, no gain’ is always thrown around with garish joy by anyone considering your actions. As I sit here writing, polishing off the last of a tube of frozen Oreo cookies (if there is nothing more you take from this article, please trust me on this one), the pain is more metaphoric than physical. The safe and structured routine of the gym and sauna is currently unavailable to us; one has to go back to basics. My last run, a knee-trembling eight miles, after a day at my desk and after dark at barely 5pm, was mentally as well as physically draining.

Even my downtime ritual run has a tech injection, as Strava dutifully counts my distance and feeds back last-mile data, but the Freetrain VR Vest makes using the tech more bearable, and the run itself safe. Made of ultra-reflective flexible, light and waterproof material, perfect for winter running, the nipped-in chest plate ensures no restriction of your movement, and a soft yet supportive high waistband preventing excess movement of the garment when you are. 

Fully adjustable and unisex, the grab and go solution removes any excuse not to get out and move. Gone are the days of running with keys in my hand and my phone nestled somewhere uncomfortable, but god-forbid not taking it with me. I want to know my stats, always. A drop-down water-resistant pouch at the chest fits my phone, with a touch-friendly window and a gap for fitting headphones. I can check my map and change my playlist, without risking skittling my phone down the road, with my keys safely zipped up at my shoulder.

If a weather-safe home workout is more your style, the new Echelon Smart Rower might be your perfect match. The 32 levels of magnetic resistance are adjustable at the handle and mimic a natural feel, with a virtually silent operation. Its slimline, foldable and wheeled design is lockdown friendly when quiet and space at home is the most precious commodity. 

The Smart Rower will keep up with your tech too. No more lacklustre pixelated images or underwhelming metrics options to inspire your workout. Connect your screen and use the Echelon Fit app to experience real-life rows from across the globe, or join live classes from a range of disciplines or on-demand workouts to fit your schedule. You will even get post-workout feedback to keep you motivated.

2020 vision

Whatever your workout is, we all know the importance of warming up, warming down, and our moments spent in recovery. Creating new routines with the Theragun Elite percussive therapy device has changed my lifestyle around training indefinitely. With a historic injury from an auto-accident and hyper-mobility, I have to be careful in my movement, and I needed something in lockdown to keep pain at bay.

For targeted areas, percussive therapy increases oxygenation and blood flow to tense muscles. The mechanism of treatment is multilateral – like a massage, but on steroids. The dampener connects with the body 40 times per second at its highest speed, too quickly for the brain to register any direct pain response. Even the most tender of spots are bearable to work on, yet with a depth of 16mm, it reaches the deepest of knots. A responsive pressure gauge guides your touch from anything too heavy-handed, and for something so powerful, its purpose-built motor keeps it as quiet as an electric toothbrush. 

Your first step in this new relationship is connecting with the Therabody App. Using your own collated data from health apps, Therabody will suggest guided routines to suit you, connecting to your Elite via bluetooth for effortless control. On opening the app and selecting a routine, you will be visually guided on how to use your Elite. For example, the Work From Home routine focuses on forearms, traps, lower back and calves. It’s a full-body programme to alleviate tension and boost circulation, something so many could use help in during remote working. Throughout the routine, the app directs you to which of the five dampener attachments are most suitable for the areas you will be working on, plus the motion and direction of movement. It even shows you how best to hold your device across its three grip points, utilizing its triangular ergonomic design, allowing you to reach everywhere you need to, without straining your wrists or arms.

For pre and post-workout, the Theragun is there for you too. Pick from a range of routines per activity (run, golf, swim, yoga) or workouts (upper body, core) for your warm-up and recovery. If a particular area is sore or an ailment troubles you, there is a Therabody practise waiting to save to your favourites or upload directly to your device.

In all, these new options for home treatments could not have converged at a better time. For now (and for the future), beauty and wellness routines will support us through moments of hardship. Advances like  this can’t be anything but a great thing. Yes, I miss the contact of having a facial and the moments spent meandering beauty halls, but knowing I can keep up a semblance of routine myself will always be a comfort.

Naomi Lake

Lake is a Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist, Model and Creative Director. As the Beauty & Wellness Editor, she comes to the table with over a decade of knowledge in the industry. When she's not on set or writing, she's in a yoga class, checking out a new restaurant or exploring the menu of a cocktail bar, in the pursuit of the perfect Negroni.

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