Blockchain has the ability to create transparency in the beauty world — something that consumers “crave”, according to a study published on Wednesday by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
Consumers have been burned by beauty products before. Sometimes, quite literally. Just look up “beauty product fails” on YouTube and you’ll find a whole slew of videos of beauty gurus burning off hair, losing eyelashes and — in some extreme cases — breaking out in hives from an allergic reaction to a product.
No wonder beauty consumers are beginning to demand transparency from brands.
The FIT study, titled “Transitioning to Transparency”, was conducted by graduates in the Institute’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management Master’s Degree Program. Its main findings were:
- 72 percent of consumers want brands to explicitly state the ingredients put into their products
- 42 percent of the respondents surveyed want brands to provide more information on the safety of their ingredients
- More than 60 percent of consumers want beauty companies to advertise where their ingredients are sourced from
- 90 percent of survey respondents believe that natural ingredients are better for the body, yet only 10 percent of those respondents actually use products that have natural ingredients
In 2017, a group of activists petitioned the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to ban lead acetate, which is commonly found in hair dyes and has been shown to sink into the bloodstream through the scalp. In 2012, the FDA found toxic amounts of mercury in skin creams, and lead in 100 percent of the lipsticks tested, which included Dior, L’Oreal, Revlon and more.
Enter blockchain technology
In a press release by FIT, on the study’s publication, one of the solutions suggested for greater transparency is “Leverag[ing] blockchain and crypto-anchor technology to validate the product journey from source to skin, while also combating the industry’s gray market and counterfeit problem.”
Crypto-anchor technologies are a relatively new blockchain-utilizing device, announced at IBM’s March 2018 showcase in Las Vegas. They are tiny devices embedded with a security code that can authenticate products with cryptographic signatures. “They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer,” Arvind Krishna, Head of IBM Research, told Bitcoin Magazine.
Blockchain can also be used as a foil for counterfeiting, which is rampant in the beauty industry. Refinery29 reported in April 2018 that the Los Angeles Police Department confiscated USD 700,000 in counterfeit beauty products in Santee Alley, California. The products tested positive for feces and bacteria. In addition, reports of allergic reactions to counterfeit MAC, Kylie Cosmetics and Urban Decay products sold in the area led police to seize the goods, according to CNN.
Companies such as JOLYY, a beauty appointment booking platform, are already starting to transition to blockchain technology. JOLYY announced in 2018 that they would be utilizing the blockchain in order to reap the benefits of faster transactions, more efficiency and smaller commissions for customers and salons. The new platform allows users to book appoints at any time, view available appointment slots, price compare and pay in JOLYY’s token, JOY, for which it is holding an initial coin offering (ICO) throughout 2018.
“The time has come to replace the proverbial ‘mirror’ with clear glass,” says FIT’s press release. Beauty brands, such as JOLYY, are beginning to do just that.