An interactive mobile application that analyzes the ingredients of skincare products and helps consumers find products that fit their needs. The application enables safe cosmetic choices by searching for products, giving a hazard or allergy profile warning, and recommendations tailored to users’ needs. This application aims to change the way users choose skincare by using this app and ultimately influence the skincare market to adapt to users’ needs rather than consumers to adapt to the market.
More than 90% of our body is covered with skin. It is a natural phenomenon to be aware of one’s skin condition and be interested in taking care of that skin. However, there are still people who do not know about their skin condition and type or do not take any care. If you personally choose to take good care of your skin, you need tools to learn about the potentially toxic ingredients in the wide range of products available. Providing easy-to-understand information about products, tracking harmful ingredients, and tools to help choose better options will allow users to make skincare product choices for their actual needs.
Just because a product is appealing, expensive, and has good ingredients does not mean it contains the best ingredients for me and my skin. Sometimes one of the ingredients in organic products does not suit my skin and causes breakouts. I tried a popular product containing sugar cane, a natural exfoliating ingredient, many years ago. That product contained organic ingredients, was reasonably priced, and did an excellent job of exfoliating; it worked for most people, including my friends, but it did not match my skin type and caused much trouble. This is just one of many examples that made me realize that everyone’s skin type is different despite common marketing efforts in the cosmetic industry. Skincare ingredients and solutions are different for each skin type.
There are cases where safe ingredients harm the skin. For example, retinoids used to prevent acne also contain acids that may cause reactions such as skin irritation and rashes. People with acne-prone skin need to exfoliate and hydrate well. Therefore, if a toner includes exfoliating ingredients such as AHA or BHA1, the user should carefully check whether the cream uses retinol so the ingredients do not conflict. Since ingredients often collide and harm the skin, users should know before using the product. However, many people are unaware of this information and, as a result, misuse it.
It is essential to know which skincare products are suitable for each individual’s skin and which formulations are ideal for each individual, rather than only insisting on popular products and “good” ingredients. According to a PowerReviews survey, today’s consumers expect easily accessible information to help them make purchasing decisions. In particular, the number of shoppers who rely on data from fellow consumers is growing every year. Research has found that reviews significantly impact purchasing decisions more than family and friends’ recommendations, product brand, and free shipping. When consumers purchase a product on the recommendation of an acquaintance or online, they should pay attention to what type of skin the product is suitable for, what effect it is intended for, and whether it is a product that does not cause allergies. Packaging and popularity are traps we often fall into, so we always have to be mindful of how it will affect our skin while choosing the product.
A skin type is essential in determining which skincare product is best for you. There are not necessarily wrong products, but people sometimes use products not for their skin type. In particular, people with acne-prone and sensitive skin should pay the most attention to the various ingredients in skincare products. Oily skin can sometimes cover a broader range of components that can cause pimples or irritation on other skin types. Therefore, having a system that can compare product ingredients and consumer skin types helps users make more informed decisions about their products.
As consumer values and expectations change, large beauty companies and startups alike have adapted. 2020 was a year that redefined beauty tech. Covid-19 further weakened interest in commodities like makeup, which were already declining as consumers’ social engagement dropped. Because we are wearing face masks, certain areas of beauty, such as skincare, have become areas of focus for consumers. As represented in figure 1, shares of the cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty fell enormously, about 29% at the end of March 2020, when the pandemic started.2
Product personalization3 isn’t a new trend. Still, beauty brands continue to adopt new technologies and refine methods to create personalized formulations for consumers, from bespoke lip colors to personalized hair treatments. A Forrester study found that 77% of consumers choose, recommend, or pay more for a brand that offers a personalized service or experience4, and Accenture5 found that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy when they receive a personalized recommendation. We can see a trend pattern in which consumers prefer products that fit them rather than popular ones.
In 2020, retailer Revolve6 said, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes caused by Covid-19, we have seen more prudent buying behavior of consumers. Many shoppers see more value at a lower price point due to the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic7. Consumers are now 40% more willing to try new beauty products than before the pandemic, and 59% spend the same or more on beauty than they did before Covid-19. According to a February 2021 PowerReviews survey, the pandemic conditions have led them to product categories such as skincare that play a central role in their at-home routine8.
Deciem9 uses a transparent pricing model and scientifically backed ingredients that are inexpensive to manufacture and ultimately lower the price of their products. In 2020, Deciem’s leading skincare brand, The Ordinary, more than doubled sales to $460 million.
Existing apps that check the ingredients in beauty products include Think Dirty, INCI Beauty, and EWG. All three apps focus on analyzing cosmetic ingredients. Think Dirty uses a scale of 1 to 10 called the Dirty Meter10. The lower the rating, the safer. The higher the rating, the more harmful. Similar to Think dirty, but translated into five languages, INCI Beauty gives the product an overall score of 20 out of 20. The higher the score, the better. This score is based on the INCI list of ingredients11. Each component receives one of the following possible grades, color-coded with a floral symbol. The EWG Healthy Living app lets you see what’s in food, household cleaners, other products, and cosmetics. When it comes to beauty, users can find EWG-certified products12. What I found in my research was that none of the seven applications could purchase products directly from the application itself. Some apps had a purchase button, but it was a system linked to another existing website link. Therefore, I would like to introduce a purchasing mechanic within the application, differentiating it from similar applications.
Sephora Skincare IQ enables beauty retailer Sephora in-store technology to help customers solve countless skin problems with a series of deductive questions in less than 60 seconds, with over 1,200 SKUs and 60. Simplify the product selection process by cross-referencing Sephora’s range of skincare products across dog brands. Sephora Skincare IQ addresses the top 10 most commonly discussed skin concerns in stores and on Sephora’s social beauty site, BeautyTalk. Users can select up to two concerns in one session (e.g., pores, fine lines, and wrinkles, melasma and uneven tone, dryness, oiliness, dullness and rough texture, elasticity, and elasticity, acne or blemishes, redness or eyes). Depending on the user’s choices, the program will ask additional questions to address your concerns before generating product recommendations. Customers can utilize touchscreen technology to search for new releases, and top-selling products, search by brand, product type, or product name, and email wishlists for reference13.