In the skincare world, technology is a double-edged sword. Advances have allowed luxury brands to develop significantly more effective products, but internet-saavy consumers are also more aware of their skin’s mercurial and demanding needs, which change from season to season, and from day to night.

The most successful brands have been able to harness technology to address these needs, and the biggest breakthroughs in skincare this season have happened, almost paradoxically, through technological changes on a small scale.

“Every aspect of creating a formula is important, and what can seem like small tweaks – such as using a delivery system or developing a way to boost the efficacy of an active ingredient – can make a visible difference to the skin,” says Dr Jacqueline Hill, director of strategic innovation and science at La Prairie.

Nanotechnology and capsule technology have been lauded for their ability to deliver active ingredients deeper into the skin for improved efficacy, and La Prairie has certainly used these technologies to considerable effect. Its latest launch employs an innovative use of distillation to introduce something new. The Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion uses caviar water in place of normal water as the base of its formula. “It is the first time caviar water has been used in cosmetics.

By using steam distillation on caviar beads, we capture a blend of ingredients that we do not get with a normal, classical extraction,” Hill says.

“The association of caviar in different forms results in unique skincare benefits and the Essence- in-Lotion offers great improvements in hydration, firmness and elasticity. Technology is key to combining these different processes in one formula.” The obtained distillate complements La Prairie’s renowned caviar extract, and this new blend is designed to enhance skin tone in a way that formulas using regular water are unable to do.

Similarly, Natura Bissé has raised the bar on recovery serums through specialised treatment of an otherwise common skincare ingredient, calendula.

“There are other products with calendula, but the SOS Instant Rescue Phytocután is an exclusive active obtained from the plant through a patented extraction system that uses photostimulation technology,” says Patricia Fisas, senior vice-president of research and innovation at Natura Bissé Group. “By applying laser energy with specific parameters – wavelength, power, exposure time and distance between the laser source and plant – we can enhance the plant’s properties.”

Fisas says the process renders an extract that is highly bio-assimilable – it can be easily absorbed by skin cells. Calendula is known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, antibacterial and healing properties, and the laser photo-stimulation technology has unleashed the ingredient’s full power to create its latest groundbreaking product. The SOS Instant Rescue serum is a potent anti-inflammatory formula, designed to offer instant relief to damaged skin while strengthening its natural defence mechanisms. “The serum penetrates the skin better and each of its properties becomes more effective,” Fisas adds. “The efficiency in helping reduce different kinds of skin damage really is outstanding.”

Enhanced benefits and delivery have always been key to the advancement of skincare, but brands are also devoting their energies towards differentiating textures. As consumers learn more about their skin’s needs, there is heightened demand for a hero product to be available in different executions – from a rich crème in the winter or for long-haul flights, to light lotions for the day and summer.

“Brands have a tendency to create ‘one size fits all’ products, but it’s clear this isn’t what consumers want,” Fisas says. “Technology will help us develop more sophisticated customised products.”

Natura Bissé is well on the way to pleasing its clients on this front. Another brand that has been focusing on customisation is La Mer. Its Crème de La Mer has known several incarnations, from the Moisturizing Gel Cream to the Oil Absorbing Lotion and the Moisturizing Soft Cream.

The latter was the result of a technological breakthrough, using a high energy process to create miniscule Moisture Spheres designed to “slip through” layers of skin, achieving their promise to harness “the power of small”.

The new Moisturizing Soft Lotion was created with the intention of offering consumers a summer product, smooth and lightweight in texture, and the brand achieved this through capsulation.

“We wanted to make something weightless yet rich. We created a specialised capsule technology that cradles each Moisture Sphere with a fresh gel outer layer,” says Loretta Miraglia, senior vicepresident of product development and innovation. “Millions of these Soft Lotion Capsules form the structure of the lotion, and the feeling on the skin is fresh and super weightless. This wonderful Capsule stores more energy than we ever imagined.”

As far as skincare is concerned, brands are all about sweating the small stuff. While the complex terminology and processes involved aren’t as marketable as exotic ingredients, consumers have grown savvy enough to see what really matters. Technology is sexy, and it’s no wonder that the latest technological achievements have us completely seduced.