"Skin care is the highest [beauty product] engagement category for women," Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist for Olay said at a panel during the 2017 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, "It's also the most confusing." In other words: All of us are super interested in skin care, but it's hard to figure out where TF to start in terms of buying creams, serums, masks, and all the bajillion other things available to put on your face. But that, according to Olay, is all about to get a bit easier with Olay Skin Advisor.
The web-based skin analytics platform (it's not an app nor a tool, a rep for the brand tells me) uses artificial intelligence to scan your face and figure out exactly the products your skin is craving. It's mostly focused on anti-aging as a concern, so the Skin Advisor "gives details in terms of which zone of your face is most youthful and which needs the most attention," Dr. Neuser explained.
Using it feels a little bit like those makeup try on apps that've been popular for a while — except instead of getting to see yourself in a cool cat eye or purple lipstick, you get a handy analysis that tells you how old your skin looks, rates the sections of your face from "best area" to "improvement area," and, of course, recommends a bunch of Olay products to use on that "improvement area."
Anti-aging isn't exactly a part of skin care that gets me giddy with excitement, but I can get down with a cool new innovation in beauty tech. SkinAdvisor.Olay.com is easy enough to use — as the press release says, "It all starts with a selfie." It has to be a good selfie, but there's a checklist of guidelines there for the user. For what it's worth, the Skin Advisor wasn't able to recognize my face in the photo up there on the left, but thought the one on the right was just fine.
In addition to the selfie, you have to answer 10 questions about your current skin care routine, skin concerns you already have, and your age. "A woman's preference is as, or even more, important than her diagnosis," the press release states. This way, someone who says she uses 5+ products every morning and loves scented products is going to get different recommendations from someone who only uses fragrance-free sunscreen.
The whole thing takes about two minutes, and at the end you get a little bar graph that rates your forehead, crow's feet, under eye, cheek, and mouth in terms of which show the most age. According to Dr. Neuser, Olay has found that more women are likely to accept the results as true from an AI like Skin Advisor, since they view it as an objective assessment.
A quick aside: I'm using "women" instead of "people" throughout because Olay designed the technology with women in mind. Dr. Neuser explained that the AI was trained with female facial images, so it's not as accurate for men at the moment. Despite the men's skin care industry bringing in over $21 billion in 2016, the Skin Advisor is prioritizing selling anti-aging advice (and products) to women.
But back to the results you get after tap through the selfie and questionnaire portions. Apparently, my skin age is 28 (only 10 months older than my actual age!) and my crow's feet are my ~best~ area, while my under eye needs improvement. Once you tap on an area, you can see why the area might need improvement (for example, "Olay has discovered that your under eye loses moisture up to 50% faster than the rest of your face.") and view the products Olay recommends if you want that area to look younger.
From there, you can see the entire Olay-recommended regimen for your skin care routine, including details on what exactly each product does. You can also buy from whichever retailer you prefer — Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Other are all options.
Overall, it's a cool piece of technology for a skin care beginner who truly has no clue where to start. Yes, it only gives Olay product recommendations, but it also lists the active ingredients in each, so you could theoretically spend some time scanning labels on other brands if you wanted to try several versions of a similar treatment. Also, saying you used AI to figure out your skin care routine just sounds legit.