It's of no surprise to anyone that beauty brands are always on the hunt for new developments in science to improve their products through trending ingredients, innovative textures and fresh formulations. Where things have changed in 2019, however, is that brands are now looking to science to improve the shopping experience for customers too. Artificial intelligence (most commonly abbreviated to AI) is at the forefront of this movement with many brands introducing 'try-on' software on their websites so that you can determine whether a lipstick colour or brow shade will suit you before you purchase it. Sure, it sounds clever in theory but I have to admit that I haven't been overwhelmed by any of the tools that I've tried so far. The lipstick shades never look quite 'right' and there's always a bit of a discrepancy in colour once the real thing lands on your doorstep.
So, when I heard that Vichy were launching an AI tool that had been developed by dermatologists to diagnose key signs of ageing and offer up personalised advice I have to admit that I was a little skeptical. But anything promising to give regular women access to professional-standard skincare advice is worth a go in my eyes.
"As the #1 anti-ageing brand in European pharmacies, we are proud to present Vichy SkinConsult AI, a true scientific milestone developed with dermatologists," said Myriam Bekkar-Schneider, Vichy General Manager. "For the first time, this technology allows all women to obtain a personal diagnostic to better understand skin ageing and to find a skincare routine tailor-made for them."
The thing that sets the Vichy SkinConsult AI tool apart from other artificial intelligence experiments is that it uses a database of information collected from 6,000 real women on the visual signs of ageing. The results not only provided critical skincare information but the ability to evaluate and predict ageing on other women that use the tool. Basically, your diagnosis will be grounded in real-life data—rather than on you providing information about your own skin to the tool. In fact, at the launch of the tool I was told that in some instances, the Vichy SkinConsult was more accurately able to diagnose skin concerns via a selfie than a dermatologist was in real life. Seriously impressive.
Even better, the tool only takes seconds to use. You take or upload a selfie, enter your age and skin type and the Vichy SkinConsult AI robot will inform you of your skin's strengths, concerns and priorities—resulting in a personalised skincare prescription to target your specific needs.
Here's what happened when myself and Nell, our Assistant Editor, tried the tool for ourself.
Mica Ricketts, Deputy Beauty Editor
"I'll admit that I was nervous about using the Vichy AI tool. With breakouts being my main skin concern, I can't say that I've spent much time considering the signs of ageing on my complexion—despite turning 30 earlier this year. The tool reported that lack of radiance and dark spots were my priority areas. At 31 weeks pregnant this wasn't too much of a surprise to me—I'm constantly tired right now and it's definitely reflected in my grey-tinged complexion. Plus, I've definitely noticed increased pigmentation on my skin recently (another lovely side-effect of pregnancy). However, I was pleased to learn that skin firmness was a strength of mine and I had low scores for both fine lines and under-eye wrinkles. Maybe oily skin does have its benefits after all!"
Mica's skincare prescription
"Disclaimer: I wasn't prescribed a morning cleanser from the tool so I used a bit of Vichy Normaderm 3-in-1 Micellar Solution (£13) on a cotton pad to refresh my skin before applying this. At first, I found this a little tacky but that feeling disappeared once my other products were applied on top and I definitely haven't experience as much dryness around my nose and eyebrows as I used to since using this."
"One of my favourite steps in the routine, this serum is basically glowy skin in a bottle. From the first day of using this I was impressed at how much brighter and more radiant my skin looked. I was definitely able to dial down my highlighter habit over the past week and I'd credit this serum with being the reason."
"This was a good, solid moisturiser that left my skin feeling soft and comfortable. It had an unexpected side effect of minimising the appearance of some of the large pores I have around my nose and cheeks too which was a definite bonus."
"I tend to opt for balmy cleansers or rich creams so this lightweight gel was a bit of a departure for me. I was expecting my skin to feel quite tight and uncomfortable after using this but the glycerin meant that my skin felt soft and supple afterwards. However, I definitely missed the more luxurious cleansing textures that I'm used to—this felt like more of a basic cleanser for when you just want to get the job done."
"This has to be the star of the show for me. Made with fermented black tea and antioxidant-rich blueberry polyphenols, I applied this to my skin using a cotton pad as the final step in my evening routine. I think this is the product that has made the most difference to my skin overall in terms of brightness and reducing the appearance of dark spots—as well as helping to calm active breakouts for a more even complexion overall. Honestly, I'm not sure that I could be without it now."
"I have to say, I was really impressed by the way my skin had visibly improved having used the Vichy products for only a week. My skin looks much brighter and more luminous without makeup and some of the dark spots on my cheeks have already visibly diminished. While I wasn't totally sold on the cleansing steps and missed my usual formulations, I'll continue to use the products from the Idéalia range as they're clearly targeting what they need to—radiance and dark spots."
Nell Block, Assistant Editor
"The Vichy AI tool told me that I was lacking in vibrant-looking skin and should be aware of lines on my face deepening. The good news, however, was that I didn't need to worry about pore visibility. I'm 34 and have a young child so considering those factors (I don't smoke or drink), I think my skin is holding up well. That said, I've definitely noticed a change over the past year or so with my skin showing how lack of sleep and at times not eating as well as I could and being so tired to tend to my skin as well as I used to be able to. It's definitely been a little 'greyer' than it used to be."
Nell's skincare prescription
"After using the products for over a week, I've noticed that my skin definitely looks bright and less lined. My before picture was taken with a little makeup on (a bit of concealer and eyeliner) but I felt confident enough to not wear any makeup for my after shot as my skin looks a little brighter and less lined."