At a time when people are working (and playing) harder than ever before, consumers are hungry for products that make them feel not just good, but better. But the marketing around such spaces—cosmetics, skin- and haircare, fitness, and sexual health, to name a few—has long been a minefield of meaningless buzzwords and pseudoscientific solutions. This inaugural class of Personal Care winners represents some of the best exceptions: These products use genuine innovations in science and technology to improve daily life.
Most beauty innovations are full of hot air, but in the case of Dyson’s AirWrap styler, that’s quite literally a good thing. Its wand-shaped body and fleet of attachments aim to replace dryers, brushes, and curling irons. Instead of relying on screaming-hot metal surfaces to shape and style strands, the device, like the Supersonic hair dryer before it, harnesses the controlled flow of hot air. Take its curling barrel as an example: Tiny vents that spiral around the attachment make a vortex that spins hair around the shaft, creating just enough tension to dry a perfect ringlet in a few seconds. The result is a hair tool that styles quickly while doing less damage.
A mechanical breast pump can help new parents save milk for future feedings, but the process isn’t exactly convenient: Devices are typically bulky and loud, and tether users with wires and cords. The wireless, wearable Elvie pump is the quietest of its kind. Thanks to a proprietary suction method, the volume stays around 32 dB—that’s even more hushed than a serene bedroom at night. With Elvie slipped inside a standard nursing bra and switched on, users can go about their usual business without worrying about disturbing others (or themselves).
Most sex toys take on one of a handful of recognizable shapes to target a particular piece of anatomy. Sex-toy shop Wild Flower created a more neutral option called Enby (named for a common shorthand for nonbinary individuals) to sidestep those norms. Users can flex and bend the bike-seat-shaped vibrator to fit against a variety of body parts—making it an option for anyone, regardless of sex, identity, or preference. It can also be used throughout any physical or social transition, like gender-affirming surgery or shifts in sexual partners.
A classic shave at the barbershop often includes the small luxury of a pre-blade hot towel. Gillette’s Heated Razor re-creates that experience—no towel or hot tap required. A bar below the blades hits one of two temperatures to offer continuous warmth throughout the shave, soothing what can otherwise be a scratchy morning chore. The flexible, waterproof, and rechargeable blade provides continuous warmth and comfort—a sensation akin to putting on a sweater fresh out of the dryer.
Thanks to the natural cycle of day and night, our bodies are primed to fall asleep when it’s cool. Tempur-Pedic’s latest mattress will help you feel 8 degrees chillier than the brand’s standard models. Copper wire in the polyethylene cover grabs heat and stays cool to the touch. Inside, a phase-change material—a substance that melts and refreezes to absorb and release heat—combines with layers of memory foam. Your body movements press as much as nine times more air through the mattress’s pores than is typical for such foam, which ventilates the material, allowing it to refreeze, drawing more warmth from your body.
Exercising at home is great if you stick to it, which is much easier with interactive trainers like Peloton bikes. But no gadget can take the place of a coach, right? Wrong. The Mirror display acts as an all-purpose gym with one-on-one personal training. Powered up, the 52-inch-tall reflective surface becomes a screen for live and recorded group classes in dance, strength training, Pilates, and a growing menu of other regimens. Customers also can use the device’s built-in camera to connect with private instructors.
As many as 10 percent of all cases of skin cancer occur around the eyelid, but no one wants sunscreen dripping into their peepers. Shimmershade’s thick, creamy formula swipes on easily and stays put without flaking, creasing, or melting, providing SPF 30 protection—along with four glittery hues to complement a variety of skin tones. Most of the formula’s protective punch comes from zinc oxide, which provides a physical mineral barrier, while octisalate provides a slight chemical assist for broad, long-lasting protection.
Part meditation coach and part teddy bear, this kidney-shaped “robot” is a cuddle-buddy that soothes you to sleep with its mechanical breathing. Somnox snuggles comfortably into your arms at bedtime without straining your neck or shoulders, while its body pulses rhythmically with deep inhalations and smooth exhales. Accelerometers and CO2 sensors help it automatically match your respiration rate, then gradually slow down to coax you into a similar speed—and a state of relaxation. The accompanying app also has settings for waking-anxiety reduction and sweet, sweet naps.
Permanent dye works by opening the outer layer of the hair shaft, giving lifters like peroxide the chance to get inside and remove natural pigment before molecules of new color wiggle in—a process that can fry your locks. ColorKick is a keratin filler that uses that moment of weakness to its advantage, slipping the Alpha Keratin 60ku molecule—a protein derived from healthy human hair—into opened cuticles. Mixed into any hair dye, the salon-only product binds to damaged areas to fill, seal, and smooth the microscopic fissures that make a strand prone to breakage and frizz.
Dozens of factors—from food to mood—can affect skin health, which makes picking products to address dermatological woes a gamble. Atolla co-founders Meghan Maupin, Sid Salvi, and Ranella Hirsch, who met while studying at MIT, realized that data science could help. To create a bespoke serum, customers complete a lifestyle survey and take simple at-home tests to determine their oiliness, pH, and moisture levels. For example, the number of black speckles on a paper strip pressed to your forehead can reveal how slick you get in a given month. Soon, users will be able to scan non-Atolla products to check how well they’ve worked for customers with similar issues.