Beauty tech takes self-care to a whole new level. Whether it’s apps that track your progress and suggest appropriate products or devices that improve the effect of your serums and lotions, beauty tech delivers the opportunity to create an amazing experience at home at a time when more people are seeking the ability to do more at home.
As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Britt.
Shannon has spent the last 20+ years working with esthetic technology in both the professional and consumer arenas. He helped to introduce the spa market to technologies like light therapy, ultrasound, and micro-current in the 90’s and then went on to develop consumer beauty tools for established skincare brands in 2010’s such as Bliss. He is currently the president of Olura, LLC, where he is introducing the patented Eno™ ultrasonic exfoliation, product infusion & facial sculpting device as part of a personalized skincare regimen that includes custom blended products and support from a skincare professional.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My father owned an “image clinic” on Music Row in Nashville, TN for many years. They primarily performed surgical and non-surgical hair transplants, or “plugs and rugs” as we called them. In 1995, my father, along with a group of industry veterans, started a company importing professional laser hair therapy devices, intended to stimulate hair growth, from a manufacturer in Sweden. That same company also manufactured a microdermabrasion machine, which was my first introduction into skincare devices. After taking a break to pursue my MBA, I went back to work with my father and quickly realized that I didn’t have a great deal of passion for the hair replacement business.
In 2000, I split the skincare portion of the company off from my father and negotiated the exclusive rights to a well-known line of advanced esthetic equipment from England. We started selling these devices to destination and day spas across the USA under the name “Ageless Aesthetics.” I worked on the spa side of the industry for 10 years before selling that company and moving on to developing these same spa technologies into home use devices for established beauty brands.
During my time developing for other brands it became apparent to me that beauty tech was its own animal that didn’t always fit into a skincare brand’s business model, which typically built on selling consumable products. I started developing concepts for a few devices that I wanted to introduce under my own label and began working on the development of the Olura brand full time in 2019.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I spent over a decade training estheticians on how to incorporate skincare technology into their spa facials. These experiences continually reinforced the potential for beauty tech and convinced me that the right tech could be a game changing addition to the home skincare regimen. I specifically remember meeting with an esthetician in Scottsdale, AZ who owned a small day spa. I was meeting her at the clubhouse of her apartment complex to demonstrate a device she was considering purchasing for her business. Like most estheticians, her skin was in great shape (always a challenge when working on estheticians), but she shared that she was over 45 and her cheeks had begun to droop a bit. She also had some overall dehydration from living in Arizona’s hot dry climate.
I performed a half face demonstration of our multifunction unit, which only took about 10 minutes to complete. When she stood up from the treatment it looked like someone was physically lifting up and holding the treated side of her face — to the extent that the untreated (left) side of her face appeared so droopy you could’ve confused her with a stroke victim. She was shocked when she saw her reflection, and just started laughing. We laughed together for a solid 10 minutes before she made me assure her that I was going to complete the facial and “even her up.”
She by far had the most profound results from a single treatment I’ve ever personally experienced. Her results were way beyond what you would ever commit to deliver for someone, but the potential to deliver such amazing results from a 10-minute treatment has always served as the basis from which I draw my inspiration. The part that was equally as compelling for me was the way she laughed when she saw herself. There can be sheer joy derived from looking at yourself in the mirror and loving what you see looking back at you.
At the end of the day, that’s what we hope to deliver. The results are great — but we often forget where we started. Today’s results become the new baseline by which we judge our total experience, and the process loses some of its magic. But the joy at seeing yourself looking back from the mirror and looking on the outside like you feel on the inside…the confidence this gives us as we go out into the world is the experience we are striving to deliver every single day with Olura.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
For me the “tipping point” was realizing that investing in relationships is the best way to grow as a person and a professional. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely process where you’re juggling everything from fundraising to package design. In those moments I tend to go inwards and just work, but I’ve learned the wisdom in reaching out to people for help and guidance. Forging new relationships is like opening a new path forward, you just never know where new relationships can take you and it’s a whole lot more fun than going it alone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
So many people have helped my career along the way, or I wouldn’t still be an entrepreneur. Chief among this is my wife who has had to navigate the roller coaster ride the comes with starting and building businesses.
Specific to my career though is a women named Tammy Ha. Tammy was a product chemist of some notoriety who my wife and I met standing in line waiting for a cab at Cosmoprof Bologna 2005. I kept in touch with Tammy through the years and started a project with her in 2010. The project never got off the ground, but it allowed me to get to know Tammy better. She was a lovely woman who cared only for making great products and being happy. She was selfless in the most admirable way.
In 2011 she invited me along with her to New York to meet some of the people she knew in the industry. I initially declined the invitation, but ultimately thought better of it and agreed to meet her in the city. She walked me into the BLISS headquarters in New York, introduced me to the CEO (Mike Indursky) and vouched for me as a top-notch developer of beauty tools. This meeting would eventually go on to produce years of work with BLISS and serve as the foundation that has allowed me to go on and start Olura.
Tammy also introduced me to one of the co-founders of Olura, Dr. Shirley Madhere, as well as world renowned industrial designer, Klaus Rosburg who has since designed every device I’ve ever launched. Tammy passed away unexpectedly as we were creating the framework of what would eventually become Olura, but her influence is present in the work we continue to do.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?
It’s been exciting to see how apps have transformed the beauty industry. The technology that uses DNA and microbiome testing to help you determine the best products for your skin have the potential to really help people discover products that are best suited to their needs. Even the apps that allow you to try a new hair color or makeup color have created engaging consumer experiences that have changed the way people interact with brands.
When it comes to the types of devices I work with, it’s my belief that we are still working to realize the true potential that the spa-based technologies have in the home environment. Most non-invasive esthetic technologies have a compounding effect on the skin that improves with regular use. This is something we always struggled with in the spa world, getting people in for multiple visits to experience the true potential of the tech, and what makes these technologies so well suited to home use. With the right technology and guidance, a home user could get better results at home than they could get in the spa just by virtue of the ability to be consistent with the treatment.
This potential to transform the at-home facial regimen is why we created the Olura brand. Our first device, the Eno™, combines what we feel are the capabilities that can improve everyone’s daily skincare regimen — no matter their skin type or concern. The Eno™ integrates different frequencies of ultrasound delivered via an exfoliation head and a disc that sit on opposite ends of the same device. Our ultrasonic exfoliation tip vibrates 25,000 times per second to gently slough off the top layer of dead cells. Exfoliating using vibrations, verses chemicals or abrasive heads, is preferable because it’s effective while being gentle enough to treat even the most sensitive skin. While other means of exfoliating can severely dry out the skin, the Eno’s method is unique because it is a wet exfoliation. We combine the treatment with a topical essence that hydrates the skin at the same time you’re exfoliating.
The exfoliation step removes the barrier of dead cells that keep product from readily absorbing into the skin, creating the ideal environment to introduce products. The Eno™ also improves the delivery of products with its ultrasonic disc, which vibrates at 350,000 times per second. These micro massages improve the delivery of skincare products while also stimulating circulation and the lymphatic system. We use this technology during our Infusion and Sculpting steps. The infusion step uses the disc head to massage your product into the skin using quick circular motions across the face. Once the product is absorbed, we come back with more targeted sculpting motions to lift the sagging parts of the skin, open the eyes up, and address any puffy areas. This combination of exfoliation followed by the infusion of products with the sculpting massage are what we found creates the glowing skin that we all associate with a spa treatment. We feel like the biggest success with the The Eno™ device is its versatility as a skincare tool. The tool is equally useful for our teenage clients who struggle with acne and our octogenarian clients who have more sensitive skin but want to optimize their skin health.
The challenge with creating a device that has multiple functions and heads is how to create a design that optimizes each function while being both ergonomic and beautiful. To accomplish this with the The Eno™, we brought in the IDSA Design of the Decade winning Industrial Designer, Klaus Rosburg. He was able to create a design the user will find simple to use, while still looking beautiful on the countertop.
The Eno™ represents a tangible piece of technology you can see a feel. We’ve also leveraged a unique technology for the formulation of our skincare line. If you remember back to your basic chemistry classes, you’ll know that water-based ingredients and oil-based ingredients will not stay mixed without the addition of an emulsifier. Conventional skincare products utilize a combination of heat and chemical emulsifiers to mix their ingredients together in the factory. We wanted the ability to allow the customer to personalize their products at home — mixing boosters full of active ingredients into a serum base to create a product that was tailored to their needs. To accomplish this, we are utilizing a patented process that eliminates the need for the traditional chemical emulsifiers that can be harmful to the skin’s fragile natural moisture barrier. Instead, we use air pressure to create sub-micron sized particles that can be combined in virtually any ratios with a simple shake of the bottle. The process yields clean formulations that the consumer can personalize. The products themselves have an extremely silky texture and provide excellent absorption into the skin.
I honestly don’t harbor any fears about the unintended consequences of the use of beauty tech. We always have to guard ourselves against the idea that we aren’t enough or that being beautiful on the outside is the primary key to bolstering our emotional health, but I don’t see beauty tech as a specific threat to exacerbating these concerns. The highest purpose for beauty tech and products, in my opinion, is to help you become the best version of yourself. To help you realize healthy skin that is radiant so that you enjoy the self confidence that comes from knowing you look your best.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?
- Consumer’s awareness of at-home use esthetic devices has skyrocketed over the last 10 years, creating an amazing opportunity to bring great devices to a ready market.
- Beauty tech’s potential to transform home skincare, delivering results that mimic what’s available in the treatment room. These new technologies have the capability to change what we think is possible from your daily skincare regimen.
- Beauty tech takes self-care to a whole new level. Whether it’s apps that track your progress and suggest appropriate products or devices that improve the effect of your serums and lotions, beauty tech delivers the opportunity to create an amazing experience at home at a time when more people are seeking the ability to do more at home.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
Most non-invasive aesthetic technologies only work within a narrow output band or energy and then only when following the correct protocols. A variation in either of these elements will yield little to no results — or even produce an undesirable effect. There are excellent safeguards already in place by the FDA and FTC, however the market is flooded with devices that flaunt these rules to the detriment of the consumer and the overall technology market. We would love to see requirements for selling on platforms like Amazon that reflect the laws put in place by FDA and FTC around the types of technology that can be sold, the claims that can be made, and the safety / performance testing required before making these devices available to the public.
- Technology that over promises results.
- Protocols that don’t follow the science for a given technology.
- Devices that don’t utilize the correct output for skincare.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Here are five — borrowed from our brand’s co-founder, Dr. Shirley Madhere.
1) Honor your temple by eating nourishing foods;
2) Stay hydrated: drink 1.5–2 liters (approximately 8 glasses) of pure water daily;
3) Move: exercising at least 3–4 times per week helps to keep circulation efficient and imparts a healthy glow;
4) Sleep adequately: knowing your chronotype will help you to regulate wake and sleep times;
5) Invest in a good skincare regimen: it’s a form of self-love.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the country, and around the world, meeting people with life experiences completely different from my own. I’ve come away from these interactions with an appreciation for all the things we have in common. The differences are there, of course — the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the holidays we celebrate — but I am consistently struck by how much we all have in common, no matter how different these superficial things may be. We all want the best for our family, for our children. We all want to be respected, to be happy and to create connections with one another.
I believe that many of us are missing what makes us similar as we gather in our echo chambers and reinforce the idea that there is an “us” and a “them.” I’m afraid we’ve lost a little perspective on the similarities we share with our literal and figurative neighbors. I try to teach my children that no person is just one thing. Even if you disagree on a specific topic, or that person has made a mistake, there is far more that defines that person than that one thing. I also find that there is wisdom in assuming that someone’s intentions are noble. Meaning that the positions they hold are based on ideas they believe deliver the most good, rather than coming from a place of malice. Giving others the assumption of “noble intent” allows us to listen to each other with respect.
If I could inspire a movement, it would be one that brought people together in conversation. There will always be differences between people and groups, but fear and suspicion of each other grows when we dismiss one another as merely “wrong” without understanding the context of their position.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” — Epicurus
Part of being an entrepreneur is striving and reaching for a goal that is placed somewhere out in time. While moving towards these goals, I often remind myself to stop and appreciate what has already been accomplished. When things get stressful, I physically stop what I am doing and list the things about my life, my business, and my health that I am grateful for. This helps to ground me in the moment and to shift my perspective out of fear, which helps to calm any rising anxiety.
How can our readers follow you online?
@oluraskincare and www.olura.us
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.