• Penn Smith

Cutting Edge Skincare: Devices, Apps and Products that are on my radar

Technology has had a massive impact on most areas of our lives from the cars we drive to our phones, how we cook, and how we consume entertainment. Interestingly, technology's impact on skincare has been slower to advance. But that's quickly changing as innovations that have flourished in medicine, consumer goods, and entertainment are rapidly intersecting with beauty and skincare.

While the big brands (L’Oreal, Shiseido, etc) and well-funded startups are always creating products in the background that pair massive innovations with equally massive price points, in fact, many of yesterday’s ‘hot beauty innovations’ flopped in the market - or never made it past the introductory stage. This is actually a normal part of the innovation process; companies need to take risks in order to 'upset' the market with new products, but inherent in this process is a high possibility of failure. This is great! On the one hand, I love that companies take risks to bring us new innovations. On the other hand, I don't want to see consumers buying products that aren't 'fully baked'.


So, in this series I’ll be highlighting some of the most innovative products to have made it past the test phase to become commercially available. I’ll be covering a number of categories, including 3D printing, cutting edge devices that integrate artificial intelligence (AI), Apps that take the place of ‘personal touch’ in order to help consumers make product decisions, as well as services that enable customers to create ‘custom’ products.

My goal is to give you a sneak peek at innovations that may transform skincare in the future while also letting you know which of the most innovative skincare products on the market today deserve your attention (and which don't!!). Below you'll find my take on the Opte as well as initial thoughts on other categories of 'high tech skincare'. I hope you enjoy


3D PRINTING


OPTE

My first experience with 3D printing was PRINTING ON MY FACE!! How funny is that!??! Opte uses a digital camera with a blue light to scan and detect spots (pigmentation or blenishes.) It then applies its proprietary serum just where it's needed. The result is actually pretty cool. Coverage where you need it but not where you don't. On top of that the coverage isn't just coverage as the serum contains not only masking pigments but also ingredients that help treat pigmentation. I think it's a pretty cool idea!!


Pros:

  • Really innovative and tested in the lab for ten years!

  • The serum created coverage that matched my skin perfectly

Cons:

  • At $599 it is expensive for the value it gives. Serum replacement cartridges priced at $130 ensure that it stays expensive!

  • It takes a LONG time - to do my full face took 20-25 mins.

  • I'm not sure many consumers will invest in a device that takes away choices - most women I know really enjoy switching their foundations to match different occasions (full coverage at a winter's party, a sheer glow on a summer's day, etc)

  • While it's a fun concept (and interesting use of technology) I'm not sure I want to rely on technology to apply my makeup (I like the artistry of the process!)



NEUTROGENA SKIN360 AND MASK iD Mask iD is Neutrogena's forthcoming product that will use technology and personalization to create a skincare mask unique to you. When it's released, Mask iD will create a facemask that's customized in both shape and active ingredients. In other words, it's a custom-printed mask that will uniquely match with your individual face shape (!!) and structure, AND it will be formulated with ingredients that address different skincare concerns on different areas of your face, all determined by you.

Pros: While I haven't tried this, it promises several very cool benefits:

  • No more slimy masks that don't fit your face!!

  • Ingredients that map to different areas - that's a skincare dream (I'll take niacinamide on my T-zone, and Tetrapeptide-30 all over, thank you very much!)

Cons:

  • Well, Neutrogena announced this mask in January of 2019 and is still inviting people to sign up for an email alert when it's launched - nearly two years later! Like I said above, 'bleeding edge' tech is often accompanied with looong delays.

https://www.neutrogena.com/3d-mask-signup-page.html


DEVICES THAT USE DATA


The Foreo Luna was one of the first mainstream products to integrate machine learning and sensors to monitor skin hydration levels and take advantage of that data to make changes to users’ cleansing routines. There are several devices that I'm testing that share this ability to sense certain characteristics of the skin and use this data to either customize the treatments and/or report progress and changes in the skin - all with the help of a smartphone. These devices will be featured in upcoming videos, so stay tuned!



ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) IN SKINCARE APPS

There are several apps out there including from skincare giants L'Oreal and Neutrogena. My sense at this point is that they're really fun to use and give you a bit of information, although how accurate it is is still questionable.


Of course, these Apps direct customers to the brand’s products, so are of limited use to those of us who love to surf skincare brands for the 'best of breed' products. Even if a 'brand agnostic' App were to be released, I think many of us would want to carry on doing our own research, asking friends, etc. But still, they're fun and even the existing brand-centric Apps can give us ideas on possible products to look into.


L'OREAL PARIS SKIN GENIUS

I was impressed that the app did a good job gauging my skin's strengths and weaknesses but were wildly optimistic about my age (29!!!). I tried to get it to give me a different reading in poor lighting but, was surprised to see that it used the flash function to adapt to poor/low lighting and give me the same 'skin age' estimate of 29 independent of lighting. So that's impressive!

https://www.loreal-paris.co.uk/skin-genius






CLINICAL-GRADE DEVICES AVAILABLE AT HOME


Increasingly (in part thanks to Covid-19), skincare device brands are making stronger devices available for at-home use. While these devices are rarely as strong as you'd find in a treatment room, they do begin to approach this territory. I'm in the process of testing several LED and Microcurrent devices (and maybe a laser) that fall into this category and will be updating you soon.



EXCEPTIONAL NEW INGREDIENTS


You may have caught my recent video about DefenAge which targets dormant cells (called defensins) which in turn reprogram dormant cells in our body to promote new skin. Defensin molecules can measurably change the skin in a short period of time, creating an improvement in pigmentation pores, fine lines and wrinkles, and hydration.


I'll be covering more high-tech skincare ingredients in the future, but do catch my DefenAge video if you haven't already.


Hope you are all safe and healthy!

Take care,

XOPenn




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