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  • Nelufer Beebeejaun

Skincare Year in Review: Technology & Innovation

Hi guys! Its like we blinked and it went from October right to December in no time. After a year of blogging, testing out new products and tools as well as working on my skincare app (please subscribe for updates!), this year is coming to an end on a very positive note.

I wanted to do a year-end review on 2 areas within the skincare industry: technology & innovation followed by my favourite products and final thoughts. We went through a year where we saw an explosion of all things that had to do with skin with the industry now worth an impressing $130 billion dollars and counting. Dats a lotta chedda $$$.

Today’s topic, technology and innovation.

Technology’s influence in skin care has been huge by influencing innovation through the rise of beauty devices, new ingredients and new technologies. I really took an interest in learning about all the new tech that is currently out there this year. Interestingly enough, part of my day job is to interview movers and shakers within the tech industry. I was able to interview Parham Aarabi, CEO from ModiFace. Parham will be the keynote speaker at a conference on AI&ML I am producing in 2020. Speaking to amazing visionaries like Parham shows me that the future of tech in skincare and beauty is going to be really something to look forward to.

The first innovation in skincare that really stuck out to me was the rise of AI in skincare diagnostic tools. Brands like Samsung, Lumini and L’Oreal have all invested heavily in the skincare analysis space.

L’Oréal acquired Modiface (An augmented reality and artificial intelligence entity) in 2018. Since then, L’Oreal Research and Innovation has launched a digital skin diagnostic for consumers based on 15 years of scientific research on skin aging by L’Oréal R&I evaluation teams.

This new technology is based on an Artificial Intelligence-powered algorithm developed by ModiFace and supported by L’Oréal’s skin aging expertise and photo database. Using deep learning, the algorithm has been trained on clinical images from L’Oréal’s R&I evaluation and knowledge studies conducted with Skin Aging Atlases, and then a new model has been created on over 4500 smartphones selfies for 3 groups of women (Asian, Caucasian and Afro-American) in 4 different lighting conditions. The results, which were developed with dermatologists, achieved a high level of skin assessment precision.

The first application of L’Oréal’s new skin diagnostic was Vichy’s SkinConsult that launched in January 2019. The SkinConsult provides women with a tailor made analysis where you upload a selfie to the site, and then the technology detects seven aging signs: under-eye wrinkles, lack of firmness, fine lines, lack of radiance, dark spots, deep wrinkles and pores. The aging signs are analyzed and the women can discover their personalized skin aging matrix, their skin strengths and priorities to act on. After, each woman receives a tailored made product routine to address her specific skin priorities.

AI-enabled understanding of ingredient effectiveness, increased user input and modern manufacturing technologies have already contributed to a large extent to the popularisation of bespoke beauty. Embracing this data-meets-derma approach, several brands have come up with virtual reality and augmented reality solutions to enhance a customer’s interaction with a beauty product in every possible way. Even the more economical and drug store brands are joining the bandwagon, including Neutrogena, that has launched MaskiD – a 3D-printed face mask tailored to your skin, based on data collected from a selfie, and Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, unveiled the world’s first AI-powered acne testing application. The Effaclar Spotscan app diagnoses the kind of acne a person may be suffering from by analyzing selfies.

I also noticed that there are a lot of sites out there now like HelloAva and Curology that will allow you to fill out a simple questionnaire and will suggest products and tailored advice on what products will work best for your skin. These sites even have dermatologists, licensed estheticians and chat bots that will walk you through an assessment.

HelloAva doesn't make its own products. Instead, it acts like a beauty consultant by helping clients find the right products for building a personalized skin care regimen. HelloAva's algorithm selects an array of products, and then a licensed esthetician confirms the choices before sending the customer to the checkout page. Customers are typically given two options for each skin care category they select, including moisturizer, eye cream, toner, and face wash. Users can also chat with aestheticians if they have any questions about the recommendations and the company's skin advisers will follow-up with clients two weeks after a purchase. The secret ingredient, is HelloAva's A.I. technology, which uses reference data on other clients from similar age and demographic groups.

Curology follows a similar approach. The company aims to replace your entire routine with their prescription-strength compounds delivered to your doorstep. They determine which formulas are best for you based on a quick quiz, with questions that ask about your skincare goals, areas of breakouts, skin type, how long your pimples last, and health history (gender, prescription topicals, other medications). You’ll be assigned to a personal provider who will choose the best formula for you based on your answers. If you find that their formula isn’t working, they even give you the option of swapping it out for a new one.

I do think these are really good ideas. People in general just want to understand their skin better and what products would work specifically for them. My issue is (and always has been) that too many influencers and brands push products to the masses, without thinking of the individual. I love that the rise of the bespoke skincare is now a thing, but I still feel like the overflow of information and advice is overwhelming to those looking for some help. How do you actually know if a product is going to work for your skin? Furthermore, I don’t need someone to assess my skin and tell me that I have oily skin, I know that. I need to know how to address it and decrease the oil as well as keep my skin clear at the same time. It’s a complicated web of questions skincare advice seekers are looking for but I feel like we are well on our way to simplifying the process.

Stay tuned for my final thoughts on some of my favourite products and tools of 2019!

xoxo Nel


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