Shiseido's beauty app promises perfect skin - at $125 per month

For 10,000 yen (S$125) a month, customers will be able to access Shiseido's skincare subscription service, called Optune.
For 10,000 yen (S$125) a month, customers will be able to access Shiseido's skincare subscription service, called Optune.PHOTO: SHISEIDO GROUP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Shiseido is making it easier for customers to benefit from - and pay for - perfect skin.

For 10,000 yen (S$125) a month, customers will be able to access the Japanese cosmetics maker's skincare subscription service, called Optune. Using a smartphone app that analyses skin and a dispenser with five serum cartridges, Shiseido says it can deliver the most appropriate skincare formula for women.

Shiseido is the latest beauty products provider to embrace technology in the US$440 billion (S$596 billion) global industry. Last year, France's L'Oreal bought a company called ModiFace, which develops software that lets consumers use augmented reality to see how they would look with different types of blushes and eye shadows.

"We see scope for benefits that will exceed expectations," Ms Shima Yamanaka, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities, wrote in a research note, adding that annual sales of Optune could reach 67.9 billion yen. "Shiseido sees advantages in the lack of marketing costs and better attachment with customers."

Shiseido is targeting women facing "the dilemma of valuing skincare but struggling to find the time to find the perfect formula," Mr Shigekazu Sugiyama, president of Shiseido Japan, said at a news conference in Tokyo. Research by the company shows that the more hectic the lifestyle, the greater the fluctuation seen in complexion, he said.

Optune's cylindrical device mixes and dispenses a personalised formula twice a day, with as many as 80,000 different combinations. The product's software, available as an iPhone app, takes photos of the user's face in order to detect skin conditions. The data is analysed together with sleep rhythms and menstrual cycles, as well as external factors such as weather and air pollution, in order to deliver the right mix of serums.

That will help to take the guesswork out of choosing the right skincare formula every day, Shiseido said. Sales for the monthly subscription started on Monday (July 1), the Tokyo-based company said.

The Optune service is available in Japan, and depending on its success, may be expanded abroad, Mr Sugiyama said, adding that it will be more challenging to serve the needs of a greater variety of complexions.