Mon. Mar 25th, 2019

The AI Skincare Programs That Want to Diagnose Your Skin

Get ready, dermatologists: the robots are coming for you.

Last week, an email popped up in my inbox about Vichy Canada’s new SkinConsultAI system, a tool that allows women to upload a selfie to the brand’s website and—in case magnified mirrors weren’t harsh enough—have “under-eye wrinkles, lack of firmness, fine lines, lack of radiance, dark spots, deep wrinkles and pores” be pointed out to them. Fun! Vichy is the first of the L’Oréal family to make use of the company’s proprietary technology, which uses those selfies to return a tailored skincare routine, addressing all detected imperfections.

Back in 2016, Olay launched a similar technology with their Skin Advisor, aimed at mapping skin to provide a helpful analysis to consumers, plus corresponding products. If you tuned into the Super Bowl this year, you may have spotted Buffy the Vampire Slayer using the AI-powered app in the brand’s “Killer Skin” ad. Olay’s version has the added perk of determining precisely how old your skin really looks. More fun!

Product pushing aside, I wondered: could these robot dermatologists actually serve their purpose and deliver useful directives? So, I tried Vichy’s out. The process begins by requesting a makeup-free selfie, which the program then analyses, scanning your unenhanced face for the dreaded “7 Signs of Aging”. Like any good doctor, they start by delivering the good news: apparently, firmness is my strength! But before I could get too excited, I scrolled down to discover my “Skin Aging Signs in Detail”, which reveals “Deep Wrinkles Visibility” and “Lack of Radiance” as problem areas. Cue sad trombone. To strengthen my skin, Vichy, of course, advises I focus on these two areas, which are addressed in my recommended skincare routine: $228.75 of Vichy products, from cleansers to serums, moisturizers, toners and more.

For fun, and to make myself feel better about my newly discovered sallow skin, I also uploaded a makeup-free photo of the most perpetually glowing human known to man: Jennifer Lopez. As it turns out, despite having skin so gleaming her face could double as a tanning reflector, J.Lo’s personalized skin aging matrix also seems to suggest a “Lack of Radiance” and “Deep Wrinkles Visibility”. Suddenly, I no longer feel so bad.

The verdict? While doubtless an entertaining way to kill 15 minutes, I won’t be deleting my dermatologist’s number anytime soon. A little more tweaking may still be needed to give the tool some capacity for nuance—you know, just to be able to differentiate my face from J.Lo’s.

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