AI and computer algorithms seemingly now extend into almost every corner of our lives. It was only a matter of time then before they reached the sensitive world of bespoke skin care.

But, as reports, some of those heading pioneering link-ups between customised dermatological treatments and artificial intelligence are not the usual beauty industry experts or celebs, but engineers and tech-industry executives. Skincare brands like Atolla, Proven, and Yours do away with the human touch and depend entirely on artificial intelligence to offer customised acne treatments.

The basis of the way each brand operates is the same, says Refinery29, in that customers answer a series of questions about skin type, diet, age, and lifestyle. Some of these are clear cut, others far more searching. For example, Proven, which offers a number of products, asks what the acne looks like, and how your skin feels after a shower, whether you eat processed foods and the exact area you live in. Los Angeles, for example, is paired with “very high UV rays”, along with hard water, which has the potential to irritate some skin types.

The MIT-founded brand Atolla, which offers a serum and plans to introduce a moisturiser and cleanser next year, goes into even more personal detail, asking questions about ethnicity and when the inquirer’s last period began.

The Singapore-based brand Yours uses computer vision technology. According to co-founder Navneet Kaur, a former Uber executive, this vision tech is a vital part of its offering. 

“The user starts with a skin assessment where we learn more about their lifestyle and environment, and then they upload a selfie for which we run analysis using computer vision which helps us decode what their skin needs actually are,” explains Kaur. 

The photo allows the AI to analyse the type of acne, its severity, the depth of wrinkles, and so on. The brand boasts all its products are cruelty free and are made in Switzerland, and regulated by EU rules, which ban far more potentially harmful ingredients than in the US.

“We also have our internal list of over 1,400 ingredients that we don't use because they're either not good for you or for the environment,” adds Kaur.

While many people find the highly bespoke nature of the brands’ offerings exciting and effective, not everyone is happy with the adoption and reliance on tech.

Some dermatologists, in particular, have some strong views. “When it comes to health and skin, there are more questions that need to be answered outside of what can be obtained from checking a box,” LA-based facialist Candace Marino told Refinery29. 

“A proper skincare consultation should be a two-way conversation between a client and a provider, not a list of generic questions,” she added.

Marisa Garshick, a dermatologist at MDCS: Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York, agrees, but acknowledges these software tools can help people steer through the many products on the market. Even so, she adds, they should not replace speaking with a board-certified dermatologist to decide on the best skincare regimen.

“The concept of simplifying skincare, as some of these programmes do, can be helpful, as I often find patients trying many different products all at once which can lead to irritation or having too many products and not remembering when to use what,” said Dr Garshick. “I like that these programmes create a simplified and consistent approach to skincare and make it easy for consumers to understand.” 

Sourced from Refinery29, The LA Facialist