Facebook PixelA skincare app that works on image processing and provides objective customer feedback in real time
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A skincare app that works on image processing and provides objective customer feedback in real time

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/confident-black-female-with-sheet-mask-taking-selfie-on-smartphone-5938537/

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Aashi Agarwal
Aashi Agarwal Oct 04, 2021
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Background:

While browsing through various beauty and skincare Apps available in the market I realized that the only way one could select skincare products addressing a particular skin concern was by looking at customer feedback and customer ratings for said product on the platform.The market for skincare and beauty products is huge but there exists no evidence-based system to guide consumers in making an informed choice. I wanted to fill this gap in the market and came up with the following idea.

Problem statement:

Absence of a tool for reliable, objective and quantitative assessment of various skincare products in terms of their efficacy in performing claimed function.

Drawbacks of existing model:
  1. The only information available to the consumer to choose a skincare product that potentially meets one’s requirement from a myriad of cosmetic products is customer ratings/customer feedback.
  2. Consumers often give subjective feedback not backed by any physical evidence.
  3. Consumers may rate products based on price, quantity, appearance, packaging quality or the like, instead of the intended product claim.
  4. There are no details about a consumer’s age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, region of residence and other such factors that might influence the product’s performance.
Proposed Solution:

An app that takes a selfie and tracks progress of skin health using image processing and evaluates the efficacy of the products currently being used. With extensive data collection, recommendations can be tailored specifically for demographics instead of a one size-fits-all approach. This would be a platform to collect and share real world data on the effectiveness of a product on a particular audience. The platform could also be used as a tool for skincare companies to improve their product and market their product better to the right audience.
The skin-care market lacks transparency, efficacy data and compatibility data all of which can be solved with this solution.

Features that must be incorporated in the App:
  1. Have a comprehensive database of major cosmetic products used worldwide.
  2. Record ingredients used in skincare products and flag products that contain any harmful substances.
  3. Record user data like age, gender, ethnicity, nationality etc as well as lifestyle choices and food habits.
  4. Allow users to routinely log pictures of their face, guiding them about optimum settings for light, brightness, angle etc.
  5. Perform background analysis of the fed pictures and generate a graph of "Days of usage" vs. "Status of skin concern" using image processing.
  6. Keep selfies uploaded to the App private but data generated from the selfies should be publically available and used for defining performance.
  7. Aim to optimize the App to analyze for most common skin concerns like acne, wrinkles, hydration, pigmentation, dullness, pores, dark circles and the like.
  8. Allow users to search for relevant products using performance matrix and filters for age, gender, ethnicity etc.
Such an App would be of immense value to consumers worldwide who like to make purchases based on scientific evidence and indications generated from actual consumers in real time.
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Creative contributions

Importance of standardized selfies and an enhancement idea

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J
Juranium Oct 05, 2021
Hi Aashi! The idea is really cool, useful, and fun. I have some ideas on taking selfies and tracking your skin condition.

The first thing to be careful of would be the standardization of taken selfies. To make sure the algorithm is working properly and treating every selfie the same, some requirements should be met. The resolution requirement would be important but not decisive. It would just be needed for a photo to be clear and focused. I would suggest the obligatory use of flash. The user would take a photo with and without flash so that the algorithm can determine the amount of shade and other light artifacts.

I would also suggest an advanced feature that would be very useful for this app and the algorithm performance - hyperspectral image processing. It would allow skincare manufacturers, users, and doctors to better track what's happening on and under the skin. It would result in detailed and hopefully, more precise information on skin care products.
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General comments

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 months ago
Once the companies follow in, they would readily share all the product information on the app at the launch of the product. As for the user information like "age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc. as well as lifestyle choices and food habits", these should be recorded during sign-up.

Filters would be the most important part of the proposed app. If I want to know the best skin product for people aged between 50 and 60, who are vegan and live in a hot climate zone, the app should be able to filter and provide me a ranked list of the products that have been proven efficacious. Moreover, depending on my location (to identify my currency), it should be able to compare and suggest which product falls in my preferred price brackets.
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Aashi Agarwal
Aashi Agarwal2 months ago
You have correctly identified the premise of the entire idea. The only constraint is that the data collection has to be extensive, for which a large number of people need to sign up on the app. This might take a while but having reputed names associated with the app could help in gaining consumer trust, prompting them to sign up.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 months ago
Aashi Agarwal Yes, extensive marketing may be required. However, since beauty and cosmetic products are widely used already, the time taken for more people to get to know about the app may be less than anticipated.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni2 months ago
Hi Aashi Agarwal, nice idea! The skincare companies would be more than happy to fund the development and marketing of such an app.

Skincare companies usually perform clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of their products. However, their samples sizes are small and the sample is not a global representative. Your idea solves these problems. Also, blogs and forums exist where product users interact and share their experiences. However, you need to look for such forums that talk about the specific product that you are using. An umbrella app with more objective evaluation/ feedback criteria will be useful to users as well as the companies.
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Aashi Agarwal
Aashi Agarwal2 months ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Thanks Shubhankar! I realised the need for this app when I started looking for clinical trial based evidence for efficacy. I figured that scientific evidence presented by big cosmetic brands in the form of clinical trial data, if clinical trial is at all conducted, often involve a sample size which is far from optimum and which often does not end up being a representative sample set either, exactly as pointed out by you. There are big brands in the market that are working on developing skincare apps but none so far that are looking at it from the perspective of a data collection repository that can generate objective performance feedback. If the app can be optimized to take care of all variables involved in calculation of performance matrix, it might bring out the reality behind the misleading claims made by the beauty industry (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/these-10-skincare-claims-are-meaningless#10-common-marketing-claims-debunked). This can revolutionize how the skincare industry market their products as the consumers become more vigilant. I believe platforms with adequate resources and outreach can adopt this model making life easier for a lot many of us.
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