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The notion of personalized skincare is appealing to consumers who also value individualized exercise programs and diet plans. Market research shows that 42 percent of women surveyed had asked for customized or personalized recommendations in the retail setting, while 23 percent had filled out an online questionnaire. In addition, 78 percent of those surveyed would be interested in purchasing products from a brand that specialized in personalized skincare. (The Benchmarking Company, 2019) Global personalized skincare sales were valued at $17.2 billion in 2021 and are estimated to climb to $38.9 billion by 2030 (, 2022). This niche category of skincare products helps fill the void for those who are not connected to a skincare professional and are looking for OTC solutions for cosmetic concerns.

Intuitively, consumers understand that everyone’s skin is different. Options to purchase a personalized serum, moisturizer, or even an entire regimen are now more readily available than ever. Cosmetic companies collect information using queries, questionnaires, online consultations, at-home devices, DNA analysis, and even artificial intelligence to provide personalized products. Accordingly, it is not surprising that there is an increase in R&D monies dedicated to developing more advanced strategies for providing personalized skincare.

Approaches to Personalized Skincare

The simplest type of personalized skincare is the “base plus additive” approach. This approach was popularized by Clinique in 2018 when they launched Clinique iD. This easy-to-use personalized skincare line offers consumers four bases, including moisturizing lotion, oil control, hydrating jelly, and BB gel. The additives, which are color coded, include formulations designed to address pores and texture, skin irritation, fatigue, uneven skin tone, and fine lines and wrinkles. The additives fit into the base cartridge and together deliver a customized formulation to address these common skin concerns. Similarly, Custom D.O.S.E by SkinCeuticals offers two bases, an oil-free serum and light lotion, that can be combined with eight different additives called booster blends. The additives include two exfoliant blends, four skin lightening blends, and two dermal enhancers. Based on answers to a series of questions, a patented algorithm selects the best combination of boosters. Ingredients such as retinol, proxylane, niacinamide, kojic acid, tranexamic acid, licorice root, mulberry extract, hepes, and hydroxy acids are included in the boosters. Clinical testing on various combinations has been performed on more than 500 patients confirming benefits on fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, texture, and dark spot intensity. (Data on file, Skinceuticals) Custom D.O.S.E has gained traction in the office setting as dermatologists and other aesthetic providers look to provide their patients with individualized formulations.

There is a plethora of internet based personalized skincare options. The majority of these utilize a questionnaire approach for skin assessment and select from a complement of pre-packaged products. Alternatively, personal data collected by questionnaire can be used to create a personalized skincare formulation. Proven Skincare has taken the personalized skincare category by storm, having grown their business from $100,000 in launch year 2019 to $10 million in 2020 and $24 million 2021. Their unique approach utilizes a proprietary database called the Skin Genome Project, which they claim is the largest beauty database in existence. It was created using customer reviews and scientific studies on the efficacy of more than 20,000 skincare ingredients. Each customer receives a simple three-piece regimen that includes a cleanser, day moisturizer, and night cream. All products are individually formulated based on data collected from a three-minute questionnaire. Ingredients are selected based on skin type, skin concerns, sensitivity, age, climate, time of year, and other data points using their AI. There are no surprises when taking the quiz as the ingredients selected using the database are all too familiar to us as dermatologists. But the fact that the Skin Genome Project received the 2018 MIT Artificial Intelligence Award no doubt lends credibility to their approach. It would be interesting to know how many, if any, of their individually formulated products have been clinically tested to confirm efficacy.

Meeting Consumer Demand

In conclusion, this emerging and fast-growing segment of the skincare market is driven by evolving technology and consumer demand. Dermatologists should keep informed on the latest approaches to personalized skincare so they can advise patients on best practices in this category.

Drs. Farris and Lain are co-founders of the Science of Skincare Summit, to be held October 28-30 in Austin, TX. For information:

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