Is Customized Skincare Worth the Hype?

Posted September 27, 2019 by Paul M. Parker, M.D., FACS

Woman using skincare product

Is it just us, or does it seem like personalization is the new black? Social media is awash with promos for tailor-made goods including jeans cut to your measurements, personalized vitamin blends, and subscription boxes geared towards your personal tastes.

This trend extends to skincare. Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for Curology, Y’OUR, or other brands that will whip you up a customized cream based on a brief online quiz. It sounds pretty cool—why not get skincare that has all the ingredients your skin needs, and nothing it doesn’t? But, does custom skincare work? Is it really all that customized? How can you be sure you’re getting safe, effective ingredients?

These are great questions, and we decided to tackle them here.

You might think of it as quasi-customized skincare: the quizzes narrow down your needs to identify ingredients that are likely to help and rule out ingredients that you shouldn’t use, but there are limitations to the level of customization available.

How are custom skincare products made?

Every brand has its own method, but typically, you will complete a questionnaire about your skin type, skin concerns, age, allergies, environment, etc. Some brands also ask you to submit selfies to be reviewed by a dermatology nurse or PA. Based on your answers, they will pull from their arsenal of ingredients and mix up a product or set of products that are most likely to be good for your skin. In theory, this is a smart shortcut to tailoring your skincare regimen to your needs.

However, online diagnosis via quizzes (even if selfies are provided for review) leaves the door wide open for misdiagnosis. If you want to get your skincare right, an in-person consult with an expert is key. Your skin’s texture, elasticity, and other factors can only be fully understood in person.

How customized is custom skincare?

The idea that skincare could be tailor-made for you and no one else sounds pretty nice, but there are limitations to the level of customization available. There are only so many ingredients that each company uses.

It may be more accurate to think of “custom” skincare as product selection guidance: their quizzes narrow things down to identify what ingredients are likely to work and help rule out ingredients that may not be helpful for your skin.

While the “customized” skincare fad fits with marketing trends, it’s not meeting a known need for more individualized skin products.

Every skincare company relies on certain known, safe, effective ingredients (e.g., retinol, glycolic acid, niacinamide, AHA, etc.)—and almost every skincare company also formulates ingredients into specific products to meet particular needs. In other words, most skincare lines already have numerous targeted options in their lineup, similar to what you’d get if you ordered “custom” skincare.

Is online personalized skincare safe?

For the most part, reputable companies who are run by dermatologists or other qualified medical professionals use familiar ingredients that are known to be safe for the general population. Additionally, since product choices are made based on your perception of your skin type and sensitivities, it can reduce the chance that you’ll have a bad reaction.

However, personalized skincare doesn’t mean you are getting the best skincare. Because you aren’t seeing an MD, the ingredients used are limited in potency. This reduces risks of online diagnosis, but also means the products won’t be as effective as what you can get from a physician’s practice.

The verdict: personalized skincare is on the right track, but there’s a better way to get the best products for your skin

Many people swear by personalized online skincare, and several of these brands have solid reviews. Companies that are dermatologist-led are likely to offer skincare with safe, proven ingredients.

A medically trained provider can help you mix and match brands and products to get the most benefit for your skin. You’ll also reap the benefits of skin imaging technology and can receive personalized, in-office treatments.

All that said, there is no substitute for having a skin evaluation with a licensed, experienced medical skincare professional. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. You’ll get better advice with an in-person exam.

An in-person consultation will allow your provider to closely examine your skin’s characteristics including texture, elasticity, and more. They’ll also talk to you about your medical history, concerns, and goals in greater detail.

2. An experienced provider has tools the internet does not

IRL skincare doesn’t necessarily mean old-fashioned! For instance, here at The Parker Center, we use VISIA®, an advanced imaging technology that reveals early signs of aging and damage that aren’t yet visible on the skin’s surface. We can use this technology to track the progress of your treatments and adjust your plan over time.

3. You can get medical-grade, prescription-strength products.

A doctor or physician-supervised provider in a licensed practice will also have access to medical-grade, prescription-strength skincare products, which are not available online.

4. You’ll have access to an array of treatments and brands for faster, more meaningful results

Purchasing skincare through a physician’s office gives you access to several brands, and your provider can help you mix and match brands if that proves most beneficial for your skincare needs. (In other words, you will get customized skincare with proven products.)

Moreover, a licensed skincare provider can design a comprehensive protocol that includes in-office treatments, helping you safely achieve more rapid improvements. To see what we mean, check out our Parker Center Acne Treatment Protocol (the before and afters say it all!!!).

For custom skincare plans in New Jersey with a personal touch, call us!

It’s great to have personalized options for fashion, food, and style, but when it comes to your skin, trust an experienced medical team in your home town. If you’re in the Paramus area, we invite you to come in for a free cosmetic consultation with our skincare team at The Parker Center. We don’t take shortcuts—we’ll work together with you to find safe, effective solutions for your skin concerns. Call 201-967-1212 to get started.

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