Ep 109 – Beauty and the Bots

women with AI brain

Artificial intelligence and augmented reality are revolutionizing the skin care industry as we know it. In our digital age of faster, bigger, and better, machine technology is being used for skin care solutions and treatments to generate revenue. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, Maggie and Ella discuss everything from interactive shopping experiences to lash robots, and whether tech in beauty is going too far or if it’s the wave of the future.

ASCP Esty Talk with hosts Ella Cressman and Maggie Staszcuk  

Produced by Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) for licensed estheticians, ASCP Esty Talk is a weekly podcast, hosted by licensed estheticians, Ella Cressman, ASCP Skin Deep Magazine contributor and Maggie Staszcuk, ASCP Education Specialist. We see your passion, innovation, and hard work and are here to support you by providing a platform for networking, advocacy, camaraderie, and education. We aim to inspire you to ask the right questions, find your motivation, and give you the courage to have the professional skin care career you desire.


About Ella Cressman:

Ella Cressman is a licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, business owner, and absolute ingredient junkie! As an educator, she enjoys empowering other estheticians and industry professionals to understand skin care from an ingredient standpoint rather than a product-specific view.

She has spent many hours researching ingredients, understanding how and where they are sourced, as well as phytochemistry, histological access, and complementary compounds for intentional skin benefits. In addition to running a skin care practice, Cressman founded a comprehensive consulting group, the HHP Collective, and has consulted for several skin care lines, including several successful CBD brands.

Connect with Ella Cressman:

Website: www.ellacress.com

Website: www.hhpcollective.com


About Maggie Staszcuk:

Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry, and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist. 

Connect with Maggie Staszcuk:

P 800.789.0411 EXT 1636

MStaszcuk@ascpskincare.com or AMI@ascpskincare.com


About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) is the nation’s largest association for skin care professionals and your ONLY all-inclusive source for professional liability insurance, education, community, and career support. For estheticians at every stage of the journey, ASCP is your essential partner. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or would like to join and become an ASCP member.

Connect with ASCP:

Website: www.ascpskincare.com

Email: getconnected@ascpskincare.com

Phone: 800-789-0411

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ASCPskincare

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ascpskincare



0:00:00.7 Speaker 1: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources, and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows it's all about you. 


0:00:16.3 Maggie Staszcuk: Hello and welcome to ASCP's Esty Talk. I'm your co-host, Maggie Staszcuk, an ASCP's Cosmetology Education Manager. 


0:00:23.8 Ella Cressman: And I'm Ella Cressman, licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, ingredient junky, and content contributor for Associated Skin Care Professionals. 


0:00:32.2 MS: And joining us is Tracy Donley, Executive Director for ASCP. 


0:00:36.4 Tracy Donley: Hi guys, and I guess I don't have a ton of titles, all I'm just saying is I'm your girl behind the scenes [chuckle] 


0:00:42.8 MS: Joining us for the conversation. 


0:00:44.5 TD: Yes, thank you. I'm so excited. 


0:00:46.8 EC: Well, here's a mind blower. 


0:00:47.9 TD: Oh goody, I like to start like that. 


0:00:48.4 MS: Yeah, we have a really interesting topic today. Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the skin care industry as we know it. In our digital age of faster, bigger, better, machine technology is being used for skin care solutions and treatments to generate revenue. 


0:01:06.2 EC: When COVID hit two years ago, stay-at-home orders temporarily forced us all, salons and spas to shut down and most retail purchases were done online virtually. However, this increase in online traffic did not make up for the sudden loss in offline sales. As a result, the global beauty industry saw a 20%-30% drop in industry revenue in 2020. 


0:01:28.5 TD: I am shocked by that. 


0:01:29.8 EC: Same. 


0:01:30.8 TD: You know why? Because how many times have we been talking on this podcast about all the estheticians, solo practitioners out there who have seen huge increases in their business because of increases in retail sales, because of COVID. 


0:01:46.2 MS: I think that those... In my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I think those are the estheticians that had to find a way, who maybe weren't retailing as much before. But when we look at this from a broad view, there still was a drop. 


0:02:00.0 EC: 'Cause this global beauty industry includes big-buck stores, department stores, and a lot of other things, so there was no opportunity to really try it before you buy it. 


0:02:10.2 TD: That's true. 


0:02:10.8 EC: So they had to really be selective as like, what are they really buying. Think of make-up, finding the right shade, you go into a store and you try different ones, you have seasonal ones, I do anyways, I know. Right now, you can probably see I'm wearing my summer shade. [laughter] 


0:02:27.3 TD: I was just thinking the same thing. I'm like, "Are you looking at my shade right now? 'Cause my shade might be a little dark for what I got going on." 


0:02:33.6 EC: I'm in winter season, but in summer mind, summer vibes are from the chin up, jawline. [laughter] It happens. 


0:02:41.6 TD: It does. 


0:02:42.1 EC: It was a full pile this morning when I was getting ready. But finding the right shade online is a little harder, or brands that are coming back. You mentioned estheticians or professionals having higher retail sales than normal, but guess what's been removed, even if you go to a department store, for example, testers are removed and they're not back yet. 


0:03:07.5 MS: And I don't think they will be back. I think that's a practice that we're gonna continue to see, taking those testers away, not being able to sample the product. 


0:03:15.8 TD: Wait, so that annoying person at the perfume counter isn't gonna be chasing me down to spray perfume on me anymore?  


0:03:22.7 EC: I wonder about... Maybe not perfume. 


0:03:25.6 TD: Okay. Just lotions and portions. 


0:03:25.9 EC: But definitely lip gloss, nobody's putting their finger in the eye shadow and the next person putting their finger in the eye shadow. Maybe I'm guilty of that, [chuckle] maybe I just witness that. But it's different to going, opening and seeing the brush, all those people touching it. That before was like, "Ugh, Whatever" but now is offensive, like a sin almost. 


0:03:48.0 TD: I totally still do it. 


0:03:49.6 EC: You do?  


0:03:50.1 TD: I open bottles, and I smell it, and I squeeze the bottle hard so I can see what the texture of the product looks like. 


0:03:58.2 EC: Is that because asking the advice of your professional is harder?  


0:04:03.5 TD: No. It's because I'm talking about the big buck stores. 


0:04:07.9 EC: Yeah, the big buck stores. 


0:04:08.4 TD: Otherwise, I would be having that esthetician slather it all over my face in a facial. 


0:04:15.3 EC: Or in a hair salon, a studio. 


0:04:17.8 TD: Yes, or hair salon. 


0:04:18.4 MS: You bring up a good point though, I love it. When we had that shut down during COVID, people couldn't go see their esthetician to get that advice to have the product applied for them, and that interaction with the professional became strained. So during this period, two technologies emerged as a result. We have artificial intelligence or AI and augmented reality or AR. So let's define what these two things are. Augmented reality, this is an interactive experience that combines the view of the real world with computer-generated modification, and there's a lot of benefit to this. We're seeing this a lot in the industry now. 


0:04:57.5 EC: We saw it in Amazon too, they have it like to show it in your home. Have you seen that feature?  


0:05:02.1 MS: Yeah. 


0:05:02.3 TD: Oh, that you can put... Yeah, put paint on your walls?  


0:05:04.6 MS: Yeah. I love it. 


0:05:05.3 EC: Or put this in the corner, what is the desk really gonna look like? Or try it on Nordstrom, try it on yourself, upload your picture. 


0:05:12.2 MS: Yeah, so it's in all industries, but we're seeing it in the beauty industry for sure. So you're getting this hyper-personalized approach, you can't go and try your make-up on in-store or have that consultation necessarily with a professional, but you can sit in front of your computer screen or in front of your phone, try on that lipstick virtually. 


0:05:32.0 TD: What about lashes, like lash extensions, could you... Does anybody know if there's any lash companies doing that? Where you could see "Oh, I would like a classic on my eyes. Oh, I would like Glamour Length" for lash extensions. 


0:05:43.8 EC: I'm sure it's coming. Yes. 


0:05:45.0 TD: 'Cause I'm gonna go do it. I'm gonna hunt it down. I'm gonna do it. 


0:05:48.4 MS: Yeah. So I think another positive here is that you're getting this personalization with the brand. You're having some sort of connection where maybe you can't go into the store or you couldn't during COVID. You still are having that connection online or maybe you're choosing not to go into the store, you're sitting at home at 2:00 AM flipping... 


0:06:07.7 TD: Drinking wine in your pajamas watching E. 


0:06:11.9 EC: Well, we know what Tracy does. 




0:06:13.8 MS: Yeah. 


0:06:14.2 EC: I will be sleeping or sleep walking. 


0:06:17.1 MS: Flipping through all the product options, trying it on virtually. So you still get that try-on option, even though maybe all the testers have been taken out of the store. And what's more is that people are arguing this is more sustainable, it's more hygienic, so there's a lot of benefit there. 


0:06:33.5 EC: I think this reminds me, how do you... When you go to these big buck stores in 2019 or in these department stores, how are you trying on this make-up or these lipsticks?  


0:06:43.8 TD: On my hand. 


0:06:44.4 EC: On your hands, right? So with your hand is different than your face. 


0:06:47.3 TD: Always. Yeah. 


0:06:48.2 EC: And I'll chime on, "Oh, that's nice," or "Oh, that's weird." But it's not necessarily gonna translate, and it could be why I have a ton of lipsticks. 


0:06:56.7 TD: I do too. 


0:06:57.4 EC: So many lipsticks that I don't wear. The ones I do wear are dusty rose color. 




0:07:03.1 EC: Like, if you looked at my purse right now, there'll be nine dusty rose lip gloss or lipsticks, like it's... 


0:07:09.2 TD: I have nine red ones. 




0:07:11.3 EC: Awesome. 


0:07:11.9 TD: Awesome. [laughter] 


0:07:12.7 EC: Yeah. But if I was able to try 'em on, I have red, I do have like a bluey red that I really like. 


0:07:18.0 TD: Bluey red. 


0:07:18.5 EC: But if I was able to try it on or a lip liner that I was able to try and virtually and really see what it would look like, it would dust off the rose so to speak, if you will. 




0:07:28.6 MS: Do you think that there's any detriment to this for the esthetician or the professional?  


0:07:33.8 TD: That's such a good question. Yeah, because I think human nature is that we have an ego. We all have an ego and we think, "Well, I don't know, I'm going here and I could just do this and I'll figure it out." I think it just takes though a few times to screw it up a lot. And then I think it's gonna be hills and valleys. I think you're gonna, most people go through cycles. I don't think someone's gonna say, "I'm only gonna do AR." Or I'm only gonna do... I think we're gonna want a little variety. 


0:08:09.4 MS: I think that it could be a tool, an additional skill set that we might not have thought about. 


0:08:14.8 TD: Oh, I like that. 


0:08:15.8 MS: That we work with the technology to then... 


0:08:19.2 TD: You're pre-selling a client the before they come in. 


0:08:22.4 MS: Well, trends change too. 


0:08:23.4 TD: Yeah. 


0:08:23.6 MS: Like this, what is it like lilac is this Springs color, but what's the fall color gonna be a Merlo wine. And so, yes, this is the, we're looking ahead to the trends. Let me show you the difference and these two colors, or come on in, then let me show you a different way to put on your eyeshadow because... 


0:08:41.4 TD: Yeah, I think I get it with the makeup thing, for sure. But like, talk to me about what your thoughts are Ella and Maggie about. Okay. The esthetician, like really, like how does AR work with the esthetician improving the texture of their face, improving, showing results in their face. Like that's just so it's not colorful. It's not pretty. 


0:09:04.8 EC: Yeah. I think that's where we get into artificial intelligence. 


0:09:07.7 TD: Okay. 


0:09:08.4 EC: So this is the ability of a computer or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans. 


0:09:17.2 TD: Okay. 


0:09:17.3 EC: So for instance, have everything from phone apps or standalone devices that can scan the skin, analyze skin conditions, even detect things like skin cancer and assist the esthetician in saying, okay, this is what's going on on your skin. And then the esthetician can say, this is your treatment plan, these are the products that we're going to use. So I don't think it's detracting from what the esthetician can do or should do. I think it is assisting and it's like a supplemental tool. 


0:09:50.1 TD: So does this fall into AI when you're talking about, you know when you look into that viewfinder thing and you're horrified to see how much sun damage that you have, [laughter] under your skin. 


0:10:01.4 MS: I think you bring up a good point. I think that it's the woods lamp is the tool that we use to understand dermal damage, dermal hyperpigmentation, epidermal hyperpigmentation, oil, dehydration, different things. But it's a tool that we use in an analytical way. Same as other tools. What was that one machine? There was a machine that was like a, almost like a wood lamp plus if you will. 


0:10:26.1 EC: Yeah. And they used it in meds. 


0:10:28.1 TD: Like hydration. I think it... I've seen one that can tell you're dehydrated your skin is... 


0:10:33.1 MS: And then there's other ones that there's this like a gun that can like, not a gun, but there's this like, tool that can address how dehydrated your skin is. So another technology. 


0:10:41.9 TD: Oh, Okay. 


0:10:42.3 EC: So in my opinion, potentially, depending on the evolution of the technologies, because there's a couple of different options as a practicing aesthetician in skincare or corrective skincare that this could be, if we embrace it in the right way, it could be an additional tool to use that maybe we adjust our practice just a little bit. But if we bring it in, it could be a really great compliment. 


0:11:05.8 TD: Okay. So my question then, well, also it could be my answer first [laughter] I have to say that if I walked in to my first time to go see a new aesthetician and she had some of these technologies available and she was using that on me and my intake, I would have to say I'd geek out and be super impressed. Like I would really like it, but you guys aren't aestheticians. So what do say? Would you be prone to adapt these or just say, nah?  


0:11:41.5 MS: I would, I'm always open to the best service possible. And if this is something that's going to compliment the best, I'm corrective. 




0:11:51.0 MS: And with that being said, I'm like, I'm not that place that you're coming to for... 


0:11:56.6 TD: Relaxation. 


0:11:57.5 MS: No, I'm not a day spot, but I'm corrective. So I'm burning, I'm scraping, I'm scrubbing, I'm pinching, I'm squeezing. 




0:12:04.1 TD: Delicious. 


0:12:05.0 MS: But I will also say, so something like this, that's gonna help me with that analysis because we've got a goal, we got a goal and we got a journey to get to that and something that'll help with that. I'm open to it, but I will still say there is no substitution for the human touch. 


0:12:18.9 TD: Oh, a 100%. 


0:12:19.8 MS: Yeah. 


0:12:20.7 TD: And laying your eyeballs on someone too?  


0:12:23.6 MS: As part of it. Yeah. 


0:12:24.7 TD: Yeah. 


0:12:24.7 MS: So you have to because machines fail. So there's two parts as long as... 


0:12:29.3 TD: Yeah. 


0:12:29.7 MS: I don't think you'll ever get red completely in a service type thing completely off having a human experience. I think of like when we were talking about doing this before, I was thinking of the friends when Ross got a spray tan. 




0:12:46.7 MS: That was AI. And he went in the spray tan and you could see that's a... I don't know. Do you remember that?  


0:12:51.1 TD: I do. I do. 


0:12:52.2 MS: Yeah. And he kept going, what? Turning around inopportune, 'cause it wasn't precise. 


0:12:55.7 TD: All the poses. 


0:12:56.7 MS: Yeah. [laughter] 


0:12:57.0 TD: And it's like, oh my gosh, I just got that side twice. 


0:13:00.4 MS: Inevitably. It was an AI fail for him. 


0:13:01.8 TD: Yeah. 


0:13:01.8 S1: 'Cause he came out one side dark and one side not. 




0:13:06.1 MS: So he still needed instruction from a human. 


0:13:08.5 TD: Well, and I even think about it too. At my gym, I do love the fact that they have one of those massage water tables. So you can lay down and it's like, you know, massaging your body. But that is a whole different thing than having a massage therapist work over my body. 


0:13:25.4 MS: Well, I think you guys bring up both the same point, which is this tool is gonna benefit your business, but the client is coming to see you. So you cross potentially this fine line where your client is thinking, what am I paying you all this money for if this device is just gonna tell me everything I need to know. 


0:13:47.9 EC: I guess maybe it depends on the device. It's not everything you need to know. 


0:13:51.3 MS: Exactly. 


0:13:52.8 EC: I will make sure that... 




0:13:54.6 MS: That's where you need to educate your clients a little bit and use it just as a support tool, and not the end all be all. 


0:14:02.5 TD: Yeah. But you're still the experts. 


0:14:05.5 MS: Exactly. 


0:14:05.5 TD: Esthetician is still the expert. And that's like saying, I'm just gonna go jump in and go get a CAT scan, see the results and be like, yeah, I got this CAT scan, it looks like I got this going on. No, I'm gonna have a doctor read it, [chuckle] you let them know. Tell them... Have them tell me. 


0:14:19.5 EC: But what if you're having the influence... I saw somewhere else that there was the AI with 3D make-up. 


0:14:25.0 MS: Yes. This is so cool. There is a device that will scan your skin, detect if you have any hyper-pigmentation both on the surface and below the surface of the skin, and then precisely print, for lack of a better word, the exact color of foundation that you need to cover that pigment. And it is just like a super fine layer of foundation. And looking at the before and after pictures will blow your minds. 


0:15:00.1 TD: Okay, wait. I'm gonna need this website and [chuckle] so is it air brushing?  


0:15:09.0 MS: No. 


0:15:09.1 TD: Is it formulating and air brushing or is it printing and you're just putting a sticker on your face, what's happening?  


0:15:13.9 MS: It's a hand-held device, and you run it over your skin and as it is reading your pigmentation, basically it's at the same time then leaving that fine line of foundation. And it takes like 200 images of your skin per second to determine whether or not you have pigmentation and then lays down that fine line of foundation. 


0:15:38.2 EC: And then they say it uses 97% less product than big foundation. 


0:15:42.3 MS: Yeah. 


0:15:43.2 EC: Well, I think what it doesn't do yet... And so this is the combination, right? That's laying the foundation?  


0:15:49.9 TD: Oh my goodness [laughter] that was funny. 


0:15:52.3 EC: It's all about contouring and highlighting all that in the eye shadow or the eye liner, so it doesn't substitute a complete make-up application, but it does... 


0:16:02.3 TD: Lays the foundationally. 


0:16:04.8 EC: Lays starts out real real nice. 


0:16:06.7 TD: And actually before that foundation is put on, we need that esthetician to make sure that our skin texture is where it needs to be. 


0:16:15.3 EC: I need this because of this, and I'm pointing to my jaw line of the summer and... 




0:16:20.6 TD: I don't even see it. You're so funny. 


0:16:23.3 EC: It's there. I'll stay way over here so you can't but... 


0:16:24.5 MS: I'll take my chances but... [laughter] 


0:16:24.6 EC: I think this would be really cool. I would be about it. 


0:16:29.0 MS: Oh, totally. 


0:16:29.7 EC: Yeah. 


0:16:30.0 MS: Yeah, super cool. Lastly is this new thing coming to the US, which is lash robots. These are robots that will apply your lash extensions a full set in 30 minutes. 


0:16:43.2 TD: No way, Hosanna. 


0:16:45.2 MS: This is how it works. You still have your lash artist who will consult with you, determine with you what kind of style you need, and then a barcode is placed underneath your lashes. The robot reads the bar code to determine how the lashes are applied to your eye. 


0:17:05.4 TD: I have to tell you, [chuckle] I want that here right now, because part of the thing with getting a whole set of lashes, it's like for me to lay down for two hours. 




0:17:15.6 TD: I listen to... I'll blaze through these podcast, but still I've got Tappy toe and they're putting lashes on my eyelash and I can't be Tappy toeing. I need to be sedated. 


0:17:27.1 MS: Yeah. But listen, here's the deal. And Ella said it earlier. Machines fail. So what happens when the robot messes up or malfunctions or pokes you in the eye?  


0:17:39.4 TD: Well, that would be above my plan... 


0:17:41.2 EC: I'm just thinking of coming out with the outer longer lashes... 


0:17:44.8 TD: That's what I was thinking, yeah. 


0:17:45.9 EC: On the inside, to put big gap in the middle, because a printer scale. 


0:17:49.4 TD: Or like torrential eyes when they're like... 


0:17:51.1 MS: Yeah. 


0:17:52.1 TD: Yeah. 


0:17:52.4 MS: I am sure that it is awesome and it works amazing, but we've all had those situations where shoot our phone isn't working, or the laptop isn't working, or our car didn't start. 


0:18:06.1 EC: I'm a jerker too. I'm like... 




0:18:08.2 EC: If I'm falling asleep during lunches because it's a long time. 


0:18:12.0 MS: Imagine you have to be somehow in ____ type of strain. 


0:18:15.8 TD: In a face brace yeah, [chuckle] 


0:18:16.3 MS: Like an MRI. You mentioned MRI reading, you have to have your head stuck there for a little bit. That in and of itself would be no, I'm tapping out. 


0:18:24.5 TD: But the person... I would say I think just from a business angle, I don't know how much a machine costs, let's say it's reasonable. But if you could pump out 30 full sets of lashes in 30 minutes, how much is a fill? A fill is gotta be like 10 minutes in and out. I just go on lunch break. That would be great, and then think about how many services. And then if something went super crazy wrong... 


0:18:50.6 MS: You'd have to have a human back up. 


0:18:52.5 TD: There is a real person who did your consultation to be like, okay, we're not gonna charge you for this, we're gonna go ahead and take these lashes off, and then what just happened?  


0:19:02.7 EC: It reminds me of, I remember way back in the day when acrylic nails were applied and filed by hand before the technology of the drill?  


0:19:13.6 TD: Right. Yeah. 


0:19:14.5 EC: It became way more efficient, and so then it became cheaper. 


0:19:17.8 MS: But it's still a drill being done by a human. 


0:19:20.7 TD: Yeah. 


0:19:21.2 MS: It's not a robot that's drilling your fingernails down. 


0:19:24.4 EC: For me, I say, bless their hearts, anyone that wants these lash robots. I will be by her side to call 911. 


0:19:31.6 TD: Oh my God [laughter] 


0:19:33.1 TD: But I'm telling you, if anyone's listening to this and knows where a lash robot is, I will be your guinea pig. I'm happy to try it, yes, and you can be holding my hand [laughter] 


0:19:42.8 EC: Yeah. 


0:19:43.2 TD: Okay. 


0:19:43.4 EC: It's definitely worth a try. I do think it sounds super cool. 


0:19:47.1 TD: Yeah. 


0:19:48.0 MS: I'll take pictures of you. 


0:19:49.5 TD: Okay, [laughter] 


0:19:51.8 MS: Now listeners, we wanna hear from you, from interactive shopping experiences to lash robots and 3D printed makeup, is tech and beauty going too far, or is this benefiting the industry? Share with us on social media by connecting on our Instagram or Facebook posts or by emailing getconnected@ascpskincare.com. Thank you for listening to ASCP ESTY-talk and for more information on this episode or for ways to connect with Ella and myself, or to learn more about ASCP, check out the show notes. 




0:20:21.1 S1: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all inclusive association for Estheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights, and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills, join at ascpskincare.com. Only $259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows, it's all about you. 


[music]Page Break 


Please note: We have recently updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Learn more...