Is machine learning the key to truly personalized skin care?

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

image courtesy of Atolla Skincare
image courtesy of Atolla Skincare
Beauty tech entrepreneurs Meghan Maupin and Sid Salvi think so. They’ve just launched their Atolla Skincare System on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and are optimistic that data-based customized serum formulations are the answer that today’s digitally native, ingredient conscious consumer is looking for.

Distinguished dermatologist Dr Ranella Hirsch is on the new company’s team as chief scientific officer. And she believes what the Atolla Skincare System promises to do is nothing short of revolutionary.

“There are a plethora of marvelous ingredients for the many skin concerns that exist,”​ acknowledges Dr Hirsch in this week’s press release about the Atolla Skincare Kickstarter campaign. “Until now, the missing link has been getting the precise ingredients into the hands of the consumer at the exact time to deliver maximum efficacy. Now with the Atolla System, we have a cost-efficient way to match knowledge and data to the user right when they need it most,”​ explains Dr Hirsch, adding that, “This will open the door to a skincare revolution.”

What makes sense now

Beauty tech ventures are commonly built to gather data, improve consumer experience, or both. For Atolla Skincare it looks to be both: “We’re applying the scientific method to skincare,”​ explains CEO Meghan Maupin (whose MIT thesis work explored the social and environmental impact of the skincare industry). “Our goal,”​ she says in the press release, “is to understand skin from the inside out and make adaptive skincare by predicting what works.”

The Atolla Skincare System attempts to deliver on the promises of contemporary tech, data, and science.

Measuring skin data

To so that the Atolla Skincare System is comprised of three steps: analyze, formulate, and track, according to the brand’s Kickstarter page​.

For the skin analysis, there’s a questionnaire, an app that helps measure moisturization and oil levels, and there are photos (selfies, of course).

The formulate step happens at Atolla Skincare and is described as not only meeting individual needs but individual needs of the moment. “Your personalized serum's ingredients and their dosage are calibrated to suit your skin,” ​explains the page.

And then comes the tracking. Consumers start using the serum, continue gathering and sharing data via the app and photos, and the custom product gets increasingly personalized to each users so called skin sequence.

Market strategy notes

The Kickstarter campaign is the team’s latest initiative to connect with consumers. The brand has been sparingly posting to Instagram since late last year. And in July, Atolla Skincare opened a pop-up shop on Elizabeth Street in New York City—an area that could rightly be called the city’s newest beauty destination with its array of personal care, cosmetics, fragrance, and wellness stores.

The shop ran for only 5 days but gave the team at Atolla Skincare a chance to test their tech out on everyday consumers. They took photos (conventional and UV), gathered info on oil and moisture levels, ran the results through their machine learning platform, and personalized product for each shopper.

Now if the team’s testing and development stays on schedule consumers who fund the venture on Kickstarter could get custom serum delivered as soon as May 2019.  



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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