What Is Custom Skin Care? Five Top Brands to Explore

  • Custom skin care is a growing trend in the beauty industry.
  • Personalized products are created based on individual needs.
  • These products are typically more expensive than regular skincare products.

Business is booming in the beauty industry, with 2018 market analysis firm Grand View Research predicting that the US skincare products market could reach almost $20 billion by 2024. The growing popularity of custom skin care — notably serums and creams — is helping to fuel this trend.

Still in its infancy, custom skin care takes an innovative approach to beauty products, and revolves around the notion that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to taking care of skin.

A number of beauty brands have appeared in recent years offering bespoke skincare products. These products claim to be carefully customized to meet the unique needs of each individual — thereby delivering better results than the mass-produced products typically found in department stores.

Could incorporating custom beauty products into your skincare routine offer greater benefits than typical store brands? Read on to gain more insights into the world of custom skin care products and learn about some of the companies making big waves in this space.

What is custom skin care?

As the name implies, custom skincare is all about creating products that are tailored to each individual.

Rather than making a single product comprised of hundreds of active ingredients — some of which may or may not be suitable for your skin — custom skincare companies craft formulations to suit your skin’s particular needs.

Typically, products contain either a single active ingredient or a select few.

“These customized products are developed based on the specific needs of one’s skin,” says double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Somenek, based in Washington, DC. “The serums or creams are composed of active ingredients unique to your skin type in order to combat a number of your skin concerns.”

From a customer perspective, the process is fairly straightforward.

You typically begin by filling out an online questionnaire, which may include questions regarding your skin type, diet, lifestyle, history of dermatological conditions, and a list of skincare products you have used previously. Some companies may also ask you to send them a few photos of your skin from various angles.

Serum and creams are then formulated based on your requirements, and a few days later you receive the products in the mail.

What are the downsides of custom skin care?

While many people have experienced positive results from custom skincare, these products are not without their faults.

The serums containing a single active ingredient are typically sold in relatively small containers, so they are usually not the most cost-effective option. Unless you find they deliver significantly better results than traditional skin care products, they may not be worth the additional expense — especially considering there are countless conventional beauty products on the market that have also demonstrated proven results.

Another potential flaw with single ingredient serums is that they may not be as effective as their marketing would have you believe.

According to Dr. Neil Brody of Brody Dermatology, based in Manhasset, NY, there’s little scientific research to suggest that separating the active ingredients into individual serums offers any real-world benefit.

“Except for occasional incompatibilities of some of the ingredients, one could easily mix their ‘serums’ together into a single product and potentially achieve the same thing with a single application,” says Dr. Brody.

According to Brody, manufacturers have chosen not to do that as an interesting marketing ploy. “There’s no data suggesting that choosing three different products and applying them separately has any particular benefit,” he adds. “In addition, there is no data that indicates any of their individual products actually do what they suggest it does.”

Therefore, further scientific research is required before a conclusion can be drawn on the effectiveness of serums and creams containing isolated active ingredients.

Which companies provide custom skin care products?

The following five brands are among the most popular in this burgeoning industry.

Skin Inc

Perhaps the most famous personalized skin care beauty brand in the world, Singapore-based Skin Inc offers a wide range of customizable serums in addition to a line of traditional beauty products.

After filling out an online questionnaire, you will receive an algorithmically-generated custom formulation containing various concentrations of active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and more.

The end product is an all-in-one-serum that helps streamline your daily skincare routine.

The company has won more than 100 awards for various beauty products, and a quick search of the web will reveal that thousands of people have had positive experiences with Skin Inc products.

It is worth knowing that their serums — particularly the single ingredient products — are sold in small packages and therefore tend to run out fairly quickly, so if you find a solution that works, be prepared to budget for it accordingly.


Headquartered in London, England, InsitU provides a range of natural skincare products that claim to target dark under-eye circles, reduce the look of stretch marks, rejuvenate dry skin, and much more.

This company offers several tonics, cleansers, and serums that are customized based on your responses to an online questionnaire, where you indicate your skin tone, type, and sensitivity.

All InsitU products use natural, active ingredients that are gentle on sensitive skin. As a personal touch, every bottle you buy comes inscribed with your name on it, and you also receive free samples with each order.

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations

Originally founded in New York City in 1851, Kiehl’s is no stranger to the beauty industry.

Toward the end of 2016, the company unveiled a brand new in-store service known as Apothecary Preparations, which focuses on making bespoke facial concentrates carefully formulated to address specific skin needs.

Unlike the other companies in this list, Kiehl’s is unique in that they require an in-person consultation to accurately pinpoint particular needs and concerns.

After the diagnosis, the consultant selects two targeted complexes from the company’s skin care line (possibilities include Wrinkle Reducing Complex, Texture Refining Complex, Visible Redness Neutralizing Complex, Pore Minimizing Complex, and Brightening Complex) to create a personalized serum in conjunction with a Skin Strengthening Concentrate.


Curology is all about making skin care more accessible — and it is fair to say they have achieved this goal. With a subscription service starting at just $24.90 per month, Curology is the most affordable option on this list.

The company uses powerful active ingredients to create custom formulations that are made according to your photos, history, and skincare objectives.

Instead of using algorithms to produce a custom-made serum, Curology relies on the expertise of trained staff to provide a tailor-made product, guide you through your skincare journey, and keep track of your progress.

Curology boasts a high success rate and claims that 88% of people benefit from using their products. However, if you’re unsatisfied with Curology for any reason, the company offers a 90-day money back guarantee — for the ultimate peace of mind.


As technology continues to advance, the way in which beauty brands make skincare products is evolving. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Proven, a new company (so new, in fact, that products are not available to the public until July 2018), that is leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

The company’s AI engine has analyzed more than eight million reviews of skincare and beauty products and compiled a database of over 100,000 beauty products, 20,000 ingredients, and 4,000 scientific articles.

Using this data in conjunction with your answers to an online questionnaire, the company is able to create bespoke products tailored to particular skincare needs. Proven is backed by a lot of data, but whether or not this will translate to a quality skin care brand remains to be seen.

Is custom skin care worth it?

Thousands of people have used tailor-made beauty products to maintain and enhance their natural beauty, and it appears that personalized products will continue to become more popular in the years ahead.

However, as noted, custom skin care products are typically significantly more expensive than conventional, off-the-shelf counterparts.

Whether or not it is worth the cost largely comes down to your budget and how your skin responds to the various treatment options. If you have found your skin does not respond well to traditional department store products, it may be worthwhile to invest in custom skin care.

Related Posts