How AI is revolutionising skincare, personalised beauty products development

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making steady inroads in transforming different aspects of life
How AI is revolutionising skincare, personalised beauty products development

Hyderabad: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making steady inroads in transforming different aspects of life – be it business, education or the medical sector. AI is used in healthcare – from diagnosis to surgeries – and its impact is growing, driven by a continuous series of innovative achievements every day.

In the beauty industry, AI is employed from research to content idea generation to product selection to marketing and more. As per recent trends, the Indian beauty market is expected to have a $28 billion share of the market by the year 2025. The AI skin care is expected to reach 1.3 billion dollars by 2026, say medical experts.

According to experts, AI-based cosmetic treatment will gain popularity in the coming days. Along with several advantages, AI-based technology comes with its share of loopholes and limitations, which should not be overlooked.

Potential of AI in reforming Indian skin treatment 

According to dermatologist and pan-India director of The Esthetic Clinics, Hyderabad, Dr Rinky Kapoor, AI is here to stay. 

“In a country like India which has only 14,000 qualified dermatologists for about 1.4 billion people, the integration of AI gives the much-needed support and the ability to bring skin care within the reach of people who don’t have easy access to specialised dermatological care,” said Dr Kapoor. 

She added, “Dermatologists and plastic surgeons from all over the world are adapting this latest technology in the cosmetic and beauty industry and this applies to India too. AI-based image analysis uses images and videos for a range of things including skin quality parameters such as skin type (oil, dry, combination etc.), texture, hydration level, pigmentation, wrinkles, and acne, and even helps in the detection and management of serious skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, dermatitis, photodermatitis and psoriasis.”

AI-based skin assessment on the horizon

Advanced skincare techniques using AI have the potential to revolutionise the beauty industry, where skincare and cosmetics play a major role and almost everyone aspires to look pretty and possess smooth, glowing skin.

AI in skincare is based on prevention rather than cure. 

Modern AI devices continuously monitor the skin and even point out early issues and suggest preventive measures. This translates to fewer skin issues. For example, decrease in acne breakouts. AI analysis factors in skin tones, texture, moisture and even the surrounding environment.

Elaborating on the use of AI in skincare, Dr Rinky Kapoor said, “AI can be used to determine the early onset of ageing and hyperpigmentation. Applications like virtual mirror can help with makeup ideas by analysing the skin type and problem areas like bags under the eyes etc. AI today can suggest products like salicylic acid to treat acne, niacinamide for skin rejuvenation and retinol for fighting

Wrinkles, more precisely than traditional methods. AI is also successful in detecting skin lesions and early signs of skin cancer by giving a more precise image-based diagnosis. For example, a dermatologist relies on a dermatoscope to detect skin cancer which is often not very precise.”

Are AI-based smartphone apps for skincare reliable?

There is no evidence yet to substantiate the claim that AI-based smartphone apps are always accurate. It is important to understand the limitations of these apps in identifying skin issues and giving precise treatment. 

AI algorithm apps have limited data and often have a narrow spectrum of sensitivity. For example, the android and Apple software give different image qualities and this affects the calculations. 

The smartphone apps may seem like they give a reasonably passable skin diagnosis and effective makeup advice but they should not be always trusted especially for advice on serious skin issues like skin lesions, informed Dr Kapoor.

Have first diagnosis through certified equipment 

Dr Sravya Tipirneni Reddy, dermatologist, cosmetologist and trichologist at Manipal Hospitals, said, “One should remember that the initial assessment should be done through equipment at clinics and not through phone apps, which claim to use AI for diagnosis. In fact, assessments done through phone apps may not be accurate or conclusive whereas equipment driven by AI technology can assess the age of the skin, oily areas, and problems such as pimples, spots and acne. Assessments are conducted based on the algorithms pre-fed into the system.”

AI can’t replace human expertise

Results of AI skincare apps, combined with a consultation at cosmetic clinics use which use high-resolution cameras under near optimal conditions, give more accurate results. If the AI smartphone app detects anything abnormal, a detailed skin analysis by an expert is highly recommended. 

It is important to remember that the use of AI is not about replacing human expertise or actual assessment by dermatologists, but is about being a supportive mechanism that can address non-complicated, basic and common skin issues without clinical examination by a doctor.

Using AI to engineer better beauty products

AI has a significant role to play for cosmetic companies in the manufacture of make-up and beauty products. 

By analysing the ingredients and product lifecycles, AI can help develop environment-sustainable cosmetics. Through analysis of customer data including skin types, it can also generate images and suggest products individually tailored to the requirements of each customer.

In her in-house article ‘Five Ways AI is supporting the beauty industry’s transformation,’ published in the October 2023 newsletter #Future, Dr Ayesha Khanna, AI entrepreneur and advisor, board member and LinkedIn Top Voice for AI, wrote, “AI is rapidly infiltrating the beauty industry, reshaping product conception, personalisation, marketing, and manufacturing. The sector is poised for significant growth, with a projected market value of $13.34 billion by 2030, boasting a nearly 20 per cent CAGR (Compound and Annual Growth Rate). AI contributes to the industry’s evolution in five key beauty trends, namely hyper-personalisation, diversity and inclusion, wellness, digital beauty and sustainability.”

“In an era where individuality is celebrated, approximately 80 per cent of customers now favour brands offering personalised products and experiences. HautAI’s SkinGPT, for example, is a generative AI tool that adeptly predicts how an individual’s skin might evolve with the use of different skincare products. By simulating personalised outcomes, it empowers users to visualise potential effects tailored to their unique needs,” she wrote.

Moreover, “The concept of beauty products has evolved from being used to make people look good to a more holistic concept of well-being. One of the most dynamic areas of innovation within this industry revolves around microbiome research. These advancements also extend to sun protection, where microbial-based sunscreens are expected to play a vital role in photoprotection products, countering the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays,” added Dr Ayesha.

Natural Vs Synthetic

Sustainability is another aspect, which is gaining traction. One area of concern has been that the beauty industry predominantly relies on ingredients derived from plants, animals, and fossil fuels, making it challenging to meet the demand for ‘natural’ ingredients. 

“An emerging trend is the use of synthetic biology to create sustainable alternatives to natural ingredients in controlled environments. Utilising AI’s capabilities, scientists can process extensive genetic data, detect patterns, and generate predictions that would be unattainable through human efforts alone,” wrote Dr Ayesha.

Advantages of AI in cosmetic and beauty procedures

- Personalised beauty regime to monitor the beauty routines and their effectiveness  

- Personalised product recommendations

- Expert beauty advice suitable per skin type and condition

- Increased brand engagement

- Tailored shopping experience

- Virtual make-up try-ons

- AI helps in better sustainability and can even point out harmful ingredients

- AI is time and cost-saving

Limitations of AI in beauty and skincare 

Dr Rinky Kapoor lists the loopholes of using AI such as AI lacking personal touch and the use of filters that give an unreal quality. 

Sometimes, AI sets unrealistic beauty standards. AI in beauty often focuses on aesthetic preferences, potentially reinforcing societal beauty standards.

The major loophole is that AI works on static image analysis, which may not recognise changes in skin and hair, which happen dynamically. Factors like lifestyle changes, climate variations or hormonal fluctuations may not be adequately considered, leading to less accurate predictions or recommendations.

This can contribute to unrealistic expectations and may not always align with diverse definitions of beauty.

If not properly trained and validated, AI algorithms can inherit biases, leading to unfair or inaccurate recommendations. Relying too heavily on AI for skincare and makeup recommendations may reduce people’s reliance on their own judgment or professional advice.

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