I sat through a consultation with a Skinceuticals rep, answering questions about my skin type and concerns. I also had to indicate my preference in the product for retinol, which is a regulated ingredient that can cause flaking and peeling when used excessively. In fact, that's part of what makes D.O.S.E unique -- according to L'Oreal, you wouldn't otherwise be able to find as comprehensive collection of active ingredients like retinol outside a lab.
Since custom D.O.S.E specifically targets discoloration and aging concerns right now, it doesn't really need to have an extremely broad spectrum of ingredients anyway. It currently uses eight "highly concentrated key ingredients and counting," which are dispensed via 24 canisters in the machine that was on display. After answering a series of questions, I would receive one of 48 possible formula concentrations for a serum that would treat my specific issues.
The consultation didn't ask questions that were very different from those I had to answer when I signed up for similar services like Curology. But the Skinceuticals experience felt slightly more personal and guided, since I had the help of the rep, who advised me on things like the roughness of my skin. I had to pick from levels 1 to 3 (the bigger the number the rougher), and the consultant helpfully jumped in, saying, "Your skin isn't level 3."
Unlike the Lancome Le Teint Particulier custom foundation demo that was happening alongside, Skinceuticals' system does not use a scanner for your skin to determine what you need. You'll rely on your own understanding of your needs and the consultant's in-person assessment to fill out your questionnaire.
What's neat about Skinceutical's machine is how it determines how much of each ingredient to drip into your vial. According to the company rep, the device takes a relatively longer time to finish doling out your formula because it is constantly calculating how much your bottle weighs to figure out how much more to add. Once the machine is done dispensing all the components of your serum, the rep puts a stopper in your vial and sticks it in the centrifugal mixer at the top of the device. After about half a minute of shaking, your serum is properly combined and ready for you.
Custom skincare isn't new -- services like Curology, which I mentioned earlier that I subscribe to, already offer tailored formulations and even from the comfort of your own home. What Skinceuticals wants to do is provide its system to licensed practitioners so they can formulate premium skincare products tailored to their clients' needs, and do so with a range of ingredients that aren't necessarily available via online alternatives. So far, I got a bottle of serum that's designed for my skin all in less than a half hour. I haven't tried it out yet, so I can't tell you how effective the formula is, but I can already see the value in a quickly made product that addresses my individual concerns.
Catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2018 right here.