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Playing dermatologist is something everyone has had to do at some point. You choose, say, a moisturizer or a treatment serum based on general issues, like if you’re dry or oily or want fewer wrinkles or breakouts. Then you cross your fingers and hope.
But there’s a new no-fail approach. Thanks to some genius chemistry, your products can make the call, eliminating the need to guess how and when (and whether) to apply for optimum results. “Smart skin care assesses your skin’s specific condition,” says Shape Brain Trust member Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist. “Then it adapts to provide only what it will thrive on.” Here, the three biggest smart-beauty breakthroughs, plus which products to try so you can take advantage. (Related: Should You Buy Your Skin-Care Products at the Derm?)
With this engineering, active ingredients are housed in microscopic pill-like coatings that dissolve over time. “It controls the rate at which something like retinol gets delivered to your skin, so you get the full benefits without the negative impact of bombarding the cells all at once,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. And because everyone has different skin chemistry, the ingredient is released at the rate your skin allows. Try IT Cosmetics Hello Results Wrinkle-Reducing Daily Retinol Serum-in-Cream (Buy It, $69, itcosmetics.com).
Another growing category of ingredients is adaptogens. “These are herbs and mushrooms that work to protect your skin when you’re faced with an aggressor like stress or pollution,” says Robinson. “They’re triggered only when the stress hormone cortisol is released within your body.” Try Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream (Buy It, $58, sephora.com), which contains extract blends of ashwagandha and reishi mushrooms.
The newest devices make it possible to produce your perfect customized skin care. Take the Opte wand (Buy It, $599, opte.com). “Pass the device across your face, and its imaging technology detects where the tone is uneven,” says Wilson. “Then its microprinter deposits teeny droplets of a pigmented brightening serum only on discoloration. You’re left with a color-corrected complexion that’s also being treated with ingredients like niacinamide. “This is definitely the next wave of brilliant beauty,” says Wilson.