Technology

L’Oreal’s newest gadget takes the mess out of coloring your hair

While you might not expect it, L’Oreal has been a regular at CES these past few years, launching everything from wearable UV and pH sensors to an AI-powered skin care gadget. This year, the company is back with yet another invention, the Colorsonic — a device meant to make dying your hair at home a hell of a lot more convenient.

The Colorsonic doesn’t look too far off from other hair styling gadgets. The top half has a nozzle with bristles, while the bottom half stores a cartridge containing a “precise mix of developer and formula.” The device works by dispensing the correct amount of hair color and then the bristles oscillate over 300 times a minute at a specific angle to evenly apply the color. Basically, the idea behind the device is you could simply turn it on, brush it through your hair, and get perfect color. (Though L’Oreal says those with darker hair colors will still need to bleach beforehand; the Colorsonic only handles the coloration process.)

If you’ve never given into the urge to dye your own hair, let’s just say there’s a reason colorists exist. Speaking from experience, it’s a messy process that can leave you with patchy hair color and stubborn stains all over your bathroom. Meanwhile, getting it done at the salon can easily end up costing hundreds of dollars. If the Colorsonic can deliver on the promise of easy at-home hair dying, that’s a big step forward.

“It’s almost been the same for over a century,” says Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator, referring to the history of hair dye. While L’Oreal is currently the largest cosmetics company in the world, it got its start when the founder developed the first commercial chemical hair dye. However, the process hasn’t changed a whole lot since then.

According to Balooch, the Colorsonic has been several years in the making — with four to five of those spent on making the oxidative formula compatible with the device itself. Balooch says the Colorsonic was tested on over 400 people in the US and internationally, all with different hair types and lengths. The device also won’t be limited in color choices and the plan is to include “daring” colors as well, with more being added over time. As an added bonus, L’Oreal says each cartridge uses 54 percent less plastic than typical at-home dye kits.

While that’s the consumer side of things, L’Oreal is also planning on adding a new Coloright system to salons. The Coloright system looks like a high-tech booth and includes a virtual try-on for 1,500 shades, as well as a hair assessment where you can measure the color of your hair and its porosity. Salon-goers would then be able to create a profile within the Coloright system so they can then get the right hair color at any participating salon.

“The salon is about not having to be afraid when I move to the U.S. from France and I want my hair color to be the right mix,” Balooch says.

As for when the Colorsonic and Coloright will be available, L’Oreal typically announces its products a year in advance. Coloright is already in some salons in France and is planned to have a full-scale launch toward the end of 2022 or early 2023. Meanwhile, Colorsonic will launch under the L’Oreal Paris brand. Pricing is still in the works, and cartridges will be sold separately. However, Balooch says it will be an “accessible product, something you could buy at a Target.” It’ll first launch in smaller test batches at the end of 2022, with a large-scale launch in early 2023.