Customized skin care brands are delivering ever more sophisticated solutions to address consumers’ unique skin needs. CEW Beauty News spotlights some of the brands that are leading the way.
The holy grail in customized skin care are formulas exquisitely tailored to individual skin needs. To do this, brands are increasingly co-creating with consumers.
More than ever, products take into account ethnicity, lifestyle, skin concerns, age group, geographical location and season, among other forms of customer input. A recent report from GlobalData cited that about 61 percent of consumers want greater control over product formulations and creating products alongside a brand. In turn, indie brands and tech-enabled startups are responding with an array of customized solutions.
The future of customized beauty comes down to a lifelong relationship. Trends come and go because customers don’t see results. The customer has to see results otherwise they won’t buy again. – InsitU Founder, Maria Salichou
Curology’s skin customization is based on formulations by prescription, which must be prescribed by a medical professional after evaluating each individual’s history and unique needs.
“We recognize that everyone’s skin is different. With customized skin care, we can account for different skin types and target each individual’s specific skin concerns,” said Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, and CEO and Founder of Curology.
Curology invites customers to answer questions and share a selfie. The brand then matches customers with a personal provider, and uses photos and customers’ skin care goals to pick powerful active ingredients suited for them, from occasional spots to full-on breakouts.
“What really differentiates us is our ability to offer customization in a single essential bottle, and our incorporation of prescription ingredients that aren’t found off-the-shelf. Curology contains a combination of three active ingredients at varying percentages to simplify your routine,” said David.
Every custom Curology formula contains at least one prescription ingredient. These include tretinoin (a vitamin A derivative and “the gold standard among dermatologists for treating wrinkles, fine lines, uneven skin tone, and acne,” says David). Othera include azelaic acid (which prevents skin pigmentation from sun damage), and clindamycin (which reduces inflammation).
We recognize that everyone’s skin is different. With customized skin care, we can account for different skin types and target each individual’s specific skin concerns.” – Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist, CEO/Founder of Curology
The cost is on par with over-the-counter products.
“Curology dermatology providers provide personalized care as well, no algorithms, no bots. Our providers can tweak ingredients and their percentages over time as individual skin needs and goals change over time”.
In 2018, David points out that Curology grew three-fold according to NPD data, growing more than any other direct-to-consumer brand in the last year at 147 percent.
“We don’t rely on algorithms or artificial intelligence for the purpose of diagnosis. Although the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence is on the rise in the realm of customized skincare, eventually this trend might meet limitations that will necessitate a human touch. Savvy players in the business of customized skin care will find ways to meld advanced technology with expert care. Curology hopes to be at the forefront of this effort”.
Direct-to-consumer brand, Skinsei, is a personalized skin care monthly subscription service that was developed in-house at Unilever. Launched earlier this year, Skinsei focuses on the link between skin care and wellbeing by way of microbiome science, big data, and personalized care. Users answer a ‘holistic diagnostic’ that encompasses skin, lifestyle and environment. (Questions address climate, UV exposure, air quality, exercise, stress, and diet). Having identified where skin needs support, users receive a kit with a personalized regimen of products selected for focus areas. These products are updated every month to match users’ needs. Skinsei’s serums, moisturizers and cleansers are vegan, microbiome-friendly, and contain prebiotics and plant extracts.
Atolla is a new skin care startup that uses machine learning to identify skin health issues, and then recommends the right skin care products for each individual. Like Skinsei, Atolla is based on a monthly subscription model. Users test their skin every month (including for oil, moisture and pH) to see how it changes depending on the season. Every month, they receive a customized product based on the data received. Atolla’s premise is that, after about a year, the brand can start to predict how skin will change, for example, by preempting skin dryness in the winter months. Atolla’s founders, Meghan Maupin and Sid Salvi, met at MIT while in graduate school.
UK-based InsitU was founded by Maria Salichou, who has a PhD in Chemistry in Nuclear Medicine from the University of Oxford, and is an expert in biotechnology and DNA sequencing.
“Lack of loyalty is the biggest problem in the beauty industry,” she said. “My real passion is to create products and take them to market, and use the benefit of my research. You want the research to come to the surface. My goal is to create a new era of beauty”.
InsitU builds its products from scratch. There are no stock products, no mass production.
“Everything happens on a very small scale. We have a laboratory, not a factory. We make products for each individual person. This is true customization because the products are freshly made. We don’t create excess. We have the natural raw ingredients created in situ, from the Latin, meaning ‘in the existing place’. The formula is at the peak of its activity. By the time ingredients are manufactured for most brands, they are six to twelve months old,” she said.
InsitU’s aim is to create a lifelong relationship with its customers based on their evolving needs over time.
“The future of customized beauty comes down to a lifelong relationship. Trends come and go because customers don’t see results. The customer has to see results otherwise they won’t buy again.”