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Are you ready for packaging that disappears, hair that doesn’t go gray, and the real fountain of youth? With industry experts as our crystal ball, we predict how your beauty routine is changing now—and five, 10, even 25 years into the future. Get excited because…
Now: There's a new way to dry hair.
Blowdryers have gotten faster, stronger, and smarter over the years, but they’ve always relied on hot air to get the job done. RevAir ($399; myrevair.com) is different. The vacuum-like device gently pulls strands taut and literally sucks the moisture out, drying and straightening hair three times faster than it would using a traditional blowdryer followed by a flatiron. And since the air is moving downward and outward, in the same direction your hair cuticle lies, you get a smoother, less frizzy result. (Lifted cuticles = more frizz.) The next step: delivering hair-healthy ingredients into the cuticle before sealing. (RevAir just launched a line of sprays and primers to do just that.)
Now and very soon: Mirrors will get even smarter.
You may have heard about Mirror ($1,495; mirror.co), the interactive workout-streaming platform that doubles as a mirror—in fact, we’ve written about it in Marie Claire—but that’s for your body. HiMirror ($119 for the mini; himirror.com) analyzes your complexion for dark circles, red spots, pores, and more. And we might not be too far away from having a mirror, or a similar device, apply makeup for us: Procter & Gamble announced that it’s been working on something called the Opte Precision Wand, which detects skin imperfections and applies makeup to those precise spots without wasting product on places that require less coverage.
Now (in other countries) and (everywhere) soon: Your sunscreen won't mess with your vitamin production.
Dermatologists talk about the importance of wearing SPF all the time. (If you haven’t heard, it’s a key defense against wrinkles, discoloration, and, of course, skin cancer.) But there’s just one problem: Sunscreen limits your body’s ability to produce vitamin D, which can be bad news for your overall health. That’s why researchers have been working on a solution: Solar D’s vitamin-D-promoting sunscreen formulation (solar-D.com). Thanks to some minor—yet complicated—chemical reformulating, the cream offers broad-spectrum UV protection while allowing your body to produce 50 percent more vitamin D than it would if you were wearing regular sunscreen with the same SPF. It’s sold in Australia now and could be in U.S. drugstores by next summer.
In less than 1 Year: Fragrances will be functional.
You know how some perfumes can change your mood? Well, developments in the nanotech space will soon take them to another level. “We’re working on encapsulating certain active ingredients so they absorb into your bloodstream and have different effects on your body,” says Barbara Paldus, an engineer and entrepreneur who founded the new brand Codex Beauty (codexbeauty.com). Heretic’s Dirty Grass perfume ($85; hereticparfum.com), with soothing CBD oil, is the most notable example of one that’s already available, but Paldus says the same idea could soon apply to an ingredient like caffeine, which energizes you from the inside out.
In 1-2 Years: Lasers will be able to remove all shades of hair.
Hair-removal lasers aren’t very effective on light-colored hair, since they work by targeting the pigment in hair follicles and heating it up, destroying strands at their roots. But biotech company Sienna Biopharmaceuticals has been working on a laser-activated treatment to remove blond, gray, and red hair. Mathew Avram, MD, faculty director of the Dermatology Laser & Cosmetic Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, says it works in two parts. First, the practitioner applies a topical product with silver nanoparticles that grab on to hair follicles, then the laser zaps the particles and the hair in the process.
In 1-5 years: You'll be able to download and make your own skincare and makeup.
Could 3-D printing eventually apply to beauty products? It’s in the works. Next fall, Mink Beauty will launch a portable makeup printer (it’s available for preorder at minkbeauty.com); just import an image featuring a color you like, and the printer will spit out little sheets of powders that you can use as highlighter, blush, or eyeshadow instantly. (Cream-based makeup is next.) Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski says something similar could soon be used to produce skincare products. “The device would work like a printer, but instead of having ink and paper, you’d have various oils and emulsifiers,” he says. One way or another, the industry is moving toward a refillable, at-home model for personal-care products in an attempt to reduce packaging waste. Cleanyst just launched a SodaStream-esque kit that makes soap, laundry detergent, and other household products ($199, cleanyst.com). Blueland sells refillable bottles and concentrated tablets that let you make your own cleaning sprays ($12 for a starter set; blueland.com). And Loop will pick up your empty product bottles and drop off refills, old-school milkman-style (prices vary, and brands like Pantene and the Body Shop are already available; loopstore.com).
You'll have more injectable wrinkle-freezing options.
Botox Cosmetic is the injectable neurotoxin you know all about (and for good reason: It works). The drug’s muscle-paralyzing effects kick in within two weeks and make wrinkles less noticeable for three to four months. But there are lots of new face-freezing options in the works, says Zeichner. The biotech company Revance Therapeutics is hoping to launch a neurotoxin that lasts six months, or twice as long as anything else on the market, as soon as 2020. (“Make sure you’re injected by an experienced doctor since poor results will last longer too,” Zeichner warns.) And Allergan, the maker of Botox, recently acquired Bonti, a California-based company working on a fast-acting neurotoxin that takes full effect in 24 hours and lasts no more than a month, which could be ideal if you want to freshen up quickly before an event or experiment without committing. But these are just two drugs in a category rife with innovation, so expect even more options over the next few years.
And very soon after that (hopefully): There may be a way to freeze wrinkles without an injection.
Botox in a bottle? Trust us, every pharma company has already thought of this one and has been working on it. Revance Therapeutics got some attention for experimenting with a gel that could deliver the neurotoxin via a skin-penetrating peptide, and FDA clinical trials reached Phase 3, according to the scientific journal Toxins. But delivering a neurotoxin topically is challenging in several ways. “You need to ensure that the toxin remains stable, you need to make sure it penetrates through the skin to the level of the muscle, and you need to make sure that it’s placed in the right areas,” Zeichner says. “If the product spreads to other areas of skin, it may affect underlying muscles there as well.” At this point, scientists are still experimenting, so we’ll have to keep on dreamin’.
In 2 years: You won't need surgery to give your face a lift.
A facelift is … intense. You’re looking at anesthesia, at least two weeks of downtime, and a hefty price tag (the average cost is $7,655, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons), which may explain why 9 percent fewer people got one in 2018 than in 2000. Sure, the increased use of injectable toxins and fillers is partially responsible for the decline, but it’s not a one-to-one swap: Even the best injectables can’t tighten saggy skin the same way surgery does. But Cytrellis Biosystems, Inc., a Boston biotech company, might be able to do it. The company is working on a laser that removes teeny, tiny pieces of loose skin for an overall tightening effect. “It’s like a facelift by a thousand small cuts instead of a few big ones, but there’s no scarring and the results are subtler,” says Avram. Trials are underway now.
In 2-3 years: There will be a new weapon against hormonal acne.
Do you break out the same time every single month? While many of the acne drugs available reduce pimple-causing bacteria, decrease inflammation, and clear dead skin cells from pores, a topical cream called Winlevi, developed by the Italian pharmaceutical company Cassiopea, actually limits the effects hormones have on oil glands. “Their new chemical entity diminishes the pore-clogging effects of testosterone, and no other topical medication lowers oil production the same way,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Early research is promising: A trial published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology shows that a 1% clascoterone cream (the active ingredient) reduced inflammation and pimple count in those who used it daily for 12 weeks.
In 5 years: There could be a medication to treat some types of hair loss.
A class of drugs called JAK inhibitors has been shown to block the inflammatory pathways that lead to hair loss (alopecia areata) caused by an autoimmune disorder. “The first case reports using JAK inhibitors for alopecia areata are now nearly five years old, but the FDA still hasn’t approved any of these drugs for hair loss specifically,” says Ali Jabbari, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the Carver College of Medicine in Iowa. Because the drugs are approved only
to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, insurance typically won’t cover them for hair loss (or it may, but it can take a patient months of appeals to her insurance provider). And without insurance, the medicine is expensive—about $3,000 a month. But there’s hope! “Many companies are running rigorous clinical trials and seeking an FDA indication for their JAK inhibitor, so this may lead to an approved medication in the next few years."
In 5-10 years: You'll be able to plump your complexion with silk.
If one half of you wants fillers but the other half feels weird about having synthetic substances in your face, a filler made with naturally derived ingredients might be your volume fix. Allergan is evaluating silk from spiders, silkworms, and caterpillars as potential filler material, and experts are excited about the prospect. “Silk conforms very well to fill gaps evenly and smoothly, plus it’s biodegradable and easily absorbed by the body,” Paldus says. So that’s good—as long as you’re not weird about having a bug-derived substance in your face.
In 7-10 years: All beauty packaging will be biodegradable.
We know we need to reduce our reliance on plastics: Containers and packaging make up almost 30 percent of all waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s why beauty behemoth L’Oréal publicly committed to making 100 percent of its packaging eco-friendly (meaning compostable or reusable) by 2025. The million-dollar question is how. Shane Wolf, founder of Seed Phytonutrients, a sustainability-focused beauty brand L’Oréal launched in 2018, says one of the most promising solutions is bacteria. He’s keeping an eye on a process in which researchers feed a particular strain of bacteria until the organisms explode into a plastic-like material that can hold liquids and is also biodegradable, since it’s biological in origin. More studies will determine if this works in practice—and if it does, Wolf says we’ll need to make sure these microorganisms don’t present other problems we don’t know about yet. But we’re pulling for these little guys.
In 7-10 years: You will be able to create–or change–your nail art instantly.
Imagine a world where a manicure takes less than five minutes and you can switch it up as many times as you want without destroying your nails. “You could apply a special ink to nails, just like nail polish, then apply an electrical or magnetic current in a specific way to produce different designs and colors,” Romanowski says. The “special ink” he’s referring to is called E-Ink and has been used solely on special electronic paper so far. “It’s really only a concept right now, but it’s feasible,” says Romanowski. Consider this our way of putting the idea out into the universe.
In 10-15 years: Foundation will perfectly match 100 percent of people 100 percent of the time.
In the last few years, numerous makeup brands have expanded their foundation shade ranges. Online retailer Il Makiage launched a “PowerMatch” algorithm, which claims to find your ideal foundation shade with 90 percent accuracy using data from 700 skin tones ($44; ilmakiage.com), and Lancôme has given its salespeople handheld devices that scan your skin and develop customized foundation on the spot ($88; lancome-usa.com for locations). So why is it going to be another decade or so until we have something perfect for everyone? “No one’s skin tone is the same everywhere, so when you take samples from different parts of your face, you get an average color that may or may not be right for your skin,” Romanowski explains. “Color is actually a pretty complicated topic, and perception is highly dependent on external lighting, angles—all kinds of factors.” Add this one to your wish list.
All tattoos may be "temporary."
Removing a tattoo created with traditional ink can take six to 10 laser treatments, spread out over months, depending on its size and colors. Even then, some tats may never fully go away. (Yellow, orange, and purple inks are harder to remove.) But tech company Soliton is working on a laser that slashes your number of treatments significantly. “Basically, when you treat a tattoo, it creates a bunch of gas bubbles that prevent you from treating it more than once in the same session,” Avram says. “But this laser uses shockwaves to clear the gas bubbles for faster treatment.” We’re still not looking at full tattoo removal in one shot, but “over time, we’re going to figure this out.”
In 15 years: No one's hair will go gray.
A pill that combats gray hair? You want it. We want it. Researchers want it. L’Oréal has been working on one for the last decade (and filed a patent in 2009), and Oxford Biolabs created Melaniq, a food supplement that contains copper and promotes melanin production ($63; us.oxfordbiolabs.com) to potentially diminish graying. A supplement that truly prevents and reverses grays is tricky, since the active ingredients need to run through your digestive system, enter your bloodstream, then somehow find their way to your hair and work a miracle without affecting your body in other ways. But it’s not impossible: A Spanish study published in JAMA Dermatology notes that certain immunotherapy drugs turned patients’ hair from gray to brown. No, you shouldn’t take cancer drugs for your hair, but scientists are intrigued by the findings.
In 15-20 years: Your beauty products will be bacterially bespoke.
You’ve been hearing about how your micro-biome (the microorganisms on and inside your body) affects your skin for a few years now, and beauty companies remain bullish on bacteria. In fact, companies like Mother Dirt, Aveeno, and La Roche-Posay currently make skincare that helps promote the growth of “good” bacteria to improve your skin. But everyone’s microbiome is unique, and in many cases researchers aren’t sure exactly how or why these bacteria-balancing ingredients work. In the future, expect a more targeted approach. It’s conceivable that you could mail in a skin swab (similar to how you take a DNA test), then receive products customized for you. But we’re still learning how the different types of bacteria work together to promote skin health, says Kim Capone, head of the microbiome platform at Johnson & Johnson. The good news? Potential benefits—including treatments for acne, eczema, and wrinkles—are essentially endless.
In 25 years: The fountain of youth may be real.
These days, there are plenty of face serums that slow or minimize signs of aging. But the dream cream won’t target the signs of aging; instead, it’ll straight up work on aging itself. That’s the idea behind epigenetics as it pertains to beauty: changing the way we age on a cellular level. There are already some possible avenues. Biologique Recherche (the French company behind cult favorite P50 Lotion) has identified a peptide called EpigenActiv that promotes cellular regeneration for firmer, more radiant skin. Paldus says she’s also interested in the skincare company Germaine de Capuccini, which has developed Epigenol, an ingredient made from a species of calendula flower that “reactivates skin-firming genes that have been switched off over time.” Of course, we don’t have an actual miracle antiaging elixir just yet, but millennials can rejoice: These may be something solid by the time you hit your golden years.
This story appears in the October 2019 issue of Marie Claire
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Kiera Carter has a decade's worth of experience covering fitness, health, and lifestyle topics for national magazines and websites. In a past life, she was the executive digital editor of Shape and has held staff positions at Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health, Prevention, and Men’s Health. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Travel + Leisure, and more. She spends her free time boxing, traveling, and watching any movie or show with a strong female lead. She is currently based in New York.
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