Ulta Beauty's App Can Give You a Skin-Care Routine Based on Facial Recognition

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

If you're a skin-care newbie or are just looking for new products, a single drugstore skin-care aisle can overwhelm you with options. Add other beauty stores, department stores, and online retailers to that, and it's nearly impossible to know where to begin. There are countless skin-care brands and products out there, and — let's face it — it can be tiring to sift through all that marketing mumbo jumbo and decide if a product can actually do what you need it to do. This week, Ulta Beauty introduced a new feature on its mobile app that can help you do just that.

The Ulta Beauty app (free on iOS and Google Play) now features a skin analysis tool as part of the retailer's GlamLab experience, which uses facial recognition technology to help you try makeup on virtually. The new feature aims to use that technology alongside a survey to identify your primary skin issues and recommend products to buy directly through the app. Ever the skeptic, I tried it firsthand to see just how accurate its analysis is, and whether or not I'd actually use the products it recommends.

Once you access the skin analysis, it'll ask you three questions: What your skin type is, how old you are, and what your skin goals are. There are eight skin goals to choose from, and you can select up to three of them. For example, I have combination skin, fall within the 25 to 34 age bracket, and want to reduce redness, even my skin tone, and enhance my glow.

After that, your front-facing camera will be activated and the app will ask you to pull your hair back and find a good lighting setting (you'll definitely want to do this part without makeup on for accurate results). A red oval will pop up on the screen to show where your face should be positioned – it'll turn green, take a snapshot, and immediately start loading your results once it's seen your face at the correct distance.

Then there's the not-so-fun part: the tool will then show you the picture it just took of you with lots of little graphics to show you where all of your skin imperfections are. You'll receive "scores" for redness, dark spots, breakouts, and fine lines. Those scores will play into what products it suggests you buy.

My routine is very heavily focused on gentle cleansers, chemical exfoliators, and moisturizers with soothing properties. The app recommended those exact types of products to me, but many were from brands that aren't in my regular rotation. A few examples: Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner, and Keihl's Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate. It even gave me a wide price range, with products ranging from $9 all the way up into the $100-plus range, so if I were going to buy any of those things, I'd have a few different budgeting options.

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Now, see a dermatologist's daily beauty routine:

Read more on: skin, ulta beauty

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