Can Skincare Be Smarter Than Dermatologists?

Smart skincare products shine at CES 2018. But how good are the latest gadgets?

By Mark Kaufmann, MD

The Computer Electronics Show (CES) is known as the “see-and-be” scene for techies—and skincare products and devices always take center stage.

I am in no way endorsing any of these products, nor claiming that they have any efficacy.That said, it is important for us to have some knowledge of what our patients might be using prior to coming in to see us.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Who is the fairest of them all? To that end, HiMirror was named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree for its HiMirror Mini ($249), the first voice-activated smart mirror. Available in the US by September, the mirror offers personalized skincare analysis based on the condition of the user’s skin, local weather conditions, and more.

HiMirror also keeps an ongoing record of the user’s skin to track goals and results of any treatments implemented. It allows users to provide feedback on the efficacy of products used. A user’s collection of skincare products can be scanned into the system through a virtual “My Beauty Box” by barcode, with reminders sent for any product expirations.

HiMirror Image

The HiMirror also features an entertainment center, consisting of current news stories, music, ambient make-up lighting, video tutorials, a virtual make-up feature, and more.

Equipped with a mobile app, the HiMirror also lets users track and tweak their skincare needs on the go. It boasts Amazon Echo-enabled features, privacy facial and voice recognition account access, and a noise cancellation microphone. The HiMirror Mini will also introduce a touchscreen feature to the HiMirror portfolio.

Accessories for the HiMirror product portfolio are sold separately and include the Smart Body Scale and the HiSkin. The Smart Body Scale allows users to identify their body type, as well as measure their weight, body mass index, body fat, water level content, muscle mass, bone weight, resting metabolism, plus more. It includes fitness videos for different exercise types, body parts and equipment to ensure a total at-home health and fitness experience.

HiSkin is a hand-held device that connects to the HiMirror to provide a “skin deep” 360° analysis of the skin’s condition, measuring hydration level, pigmentation, and multiple other qualities.

Kohler Co. was also named a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree for its new Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror ($999). The smart mirror puts Amazon’s Alexa assistant into a bathroom mirror, which can be used to turn the lights on or off or perform voice enacted functions like playing music.

Kohler Image

I’m all for this type of technology as long as it doesn’t feed neuroses. Hopefully, Alexa will not enable the person to continually magnify their mirror until they see every imperfection on their skin.

Wrinkle tracking? Sun exposure?

There’s an app for that. Johnson & Johnson’s NeutrogenaSkin360 ($49.99) attaches to a smartphone and uses sensors to track skin health while providing personalized skincare advice. The Skin360 app and SkinScanner tool measure what’s happening below the skin’s surface, tracking pores, fine lines, wrinkles and moisture levels. Each scan generates a Skin360 Score, offering analysis with a recommended skin care routine and products best suited uniquely to the user’s skin type and issues.

The Neutrogena Skin360 app and SkinScanner tool will be available later this year.

Neutrogena Skin App image

Romy Paris’s $800 “miniaturized laboratory” creates a personalized skin care serum daily along with a beauty coaching app that takes environment, activities, and sleep habits into consideration.

And Schwarzkopf Professional’s SalonLab tool measures inner hair condition and moisture level and can even identify true hair color. An accompanying app is augmented reality-ready to virtually see how different hair colors look.

Also at CES, Northwestern University researchers and L’Oréal  introduced a wafer-thin, feather-light sensor that can fit on a fingernail and precisely measures a person’s exposure to UV light from the sun.

The UV Sense has no moving parts, no battery, is waterproof and can be attached to almost any part of the body or clothing, where it continuously measures UV exposure in a unique accumulation mode. Users need only to download an app on their smartphone, then swipe the phone over the device to see their exposure to the sun, either for that day or over time. The app can suggest other, less UV-intense times for outdoor activities or give peace of mind to individuals who are concerned about overexposure.

The Bigger Picture

So are apps the new derms? This is the $64,000 question. These apps will certainly create whole new datasets for dermatologists to look at, either with the patient in the office or remotely. The real question is to what end? Will we want to be doing this?

All in all, there appear to be two trends that intersect in the smart skincare space. Technology will be supplying our patients with multiple new data points, and secondly, there is a growing role for artificial intelligence. How far will this go? Will it make us better doctors, or will it replace us? Stay tuned.

Mark D. Kaufmann, MD is an associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Dept. of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. His column, Digital Practice, runs in every issue of Practical Dermatology® magazine.


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About Practical Dermatology

Practical Dermatology is the monthly publication that provides coverage of medical care, cosmetic advancements, and practice management for clinicians in the field. With straight-forward, how-to advice from experts in various fields, we strive to enhance quality of care and improve the daily operation of dermatology practices.