Why Skincare Brands Are Getting In On The Customizable Beauty Trend

SkinCeuticals created 2,000 algorithms to process data, clinically tested 500+ subjects, analyzed 250+ different skin types and developed 33 unique formula concentrations.

What once precluded the concept of luxury—easy access and attainability—now shapes and drives it. But if everything is within reach thanks to its democratization, how can anything still feel special? When it comes to skincare, the answer lies in customizing. SkinCeuticals has tossed its hat in the ring with its Custom Dose service, which it unveiled recently at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Tex. The brand developed the service after noticing that customers were personalizing everything from fragrances to lipsticks.

Much of this customizing relies on human intervention, either in-store or at home, but SkinCeuticals claims that the smart technology behind Custom Dose differentiates it from the rest. “In a lot of these DIY personalizations, you have to use formulas that are easy to mix by hand, but for some of these high-level active formulas, you need a machine,” says Guive Balooch, global vice-president of L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator. “You need something to spin the formula in such a way that the actives are fully integrated.” The ones used in Custom Dose are typically mixed in factories. “This is like a lab in a box,” he says of the unassuming black cube that contains the serum’s ingredients. “We have a lab-grade mixer that is similar to what we use in R&D; it mixes it, and you go home with the perfect product.”

Amid the buzzing of SXSW attendees, Benjamin Seiber, clinical educator for SkinCeuticals, asks me a series of questions about my skin. The data is then run through an algorithm to concoct a formula tailor-made for my concerns. Based on the algorithm’s recommendations, the cube selects the appropriate canisters, dispenses the contents of four (a mix of three “boosters” and one base) and then mixes them together in its internal centrifuge in the precise dosage dictated by the algorithm.

Custom Dose serums are formulated to address discolouration and aging—two common skin concerns—with booster options ranging from a glycolic, lactic and phytic acid blend for exfoliation to ProXylane for improving skin firmness combined with either a viscous hydrophilic base or a milky emulsion base.

Launching in 2019, the service will be available only at select physicians’ offices. But why buy a Custom Dose serum instead of just layering multiple products? “This is about the experience,” says Seiber. The fact that it mixes beauty and technology is a powerful draw, too. “We live in an age where artificial intelligence and machine learning are creating more power for consumers to understand their skin, their needs, their beauty, their fashion, their lives,” adds Balooch. “The technology era allows people to really elevate their experience.”

Other brands are getting in on the action, too.

Blend & Boost

The brand works with physicians to determine what each patient’s needs are, to create blends that pair well or complement their skin type, procedures and regimen. With over 120 possible combinations, patients are sure to find a blend that caters best to their skin’s needs. “You get a skin consultation, you type is determined, and then it’s sent to a pharmacy, created within 48 hours and shipped to you fresh,” says Dr. Julia Carroll of Compass Dermatology, where you can schedule a consultation.


Launched in France, Universkin was founded by a medley of French derms, plastic surgeons and skincare research scientists. The service begins with a consultation where you identify your main skin conditions and concerns. Choosing from 19 different actives, your skin therapist selects up to three of the best ones to target said issues and creates a recipe for both a night and day product using their patented camelina oil, peptide and hyaluronic acid infused P serum as the base. In powder form, the actives are added to the base and shaken using a machine right in front of you. Freshly made, they last for 8 weeks. There are 1,159 possible formulations but the ones you take home are suited explicitly to you.

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