What is bespoke skincare, aka customised skincare?

What is bespoke skincare, aka customised skincare?

By definition, a customised skin care product is a product that has been formulated to address the needs of your skin and will contain actives selected especially for you.
This sounds really exciting and appealing, but is it truly achievable, and at what cost?

Before going into this, one must grasp the complexity of skin care formulation to fully understand the advantages and limitations of bespoke skin care products:

Despites what has been promulgated by a large number of online DYI tutorials and videos as well as increasing numbers of self-made skincare brands, formulating a SAFE, EFFECTIVE and PLEASING skin care product is generally a long and complicated process requiring a good scientific understanding of chemistry and skin biology.

The reason is this:

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  • Skin care products are a complicated mix of ingredients (think “soup”)
    which have an annoying tendency to react with each other (or rather against each other) and destabilise the whole formula, or make it irritating, or are a perfect mix for bacteria and various germs to grow and multiply in. …. and the higher the concentration of actives, the higher the chance that something will go wrong.
  • It takes a lot of time and money to develop a skin care product from scratch. Generally, brands plan for 12 to 36mths depending on the complexity and the number of clinical tests going into the validation of the formula.

Clearly, it seems magical to imagine that one can just fill in an online questionnaire with their skin specific needs, press the “order now” button and receive a one-of-a-kind formula in their mailbox 2 weeks later for $40.


So, is it possible, and if yes, what are the different types of personalised skin care?

  1. The in-depth personalised skincare:
    some brands will take the concept of bespoke skincare seriously enough and take their customers through an initial diagnostic, either via in-depth questionnaire, video cells or photos of the customer’s skin being uploaded to the in-house dermatologist for assessment.

    A pharmacist then compounds the formula which is send to the recipient who can use the product for the treatment duration recommended by the brand.

    This approach is generally well suited to address skin care problems such as acne or pigmentation and typical brands doing this are "The secret" or 9r8- Medi skin.
    Clearly, given the time and effort going into the process, the cost of these products may be high but these brands try and offer a formula which is the closest you can come to a bespoke product.

    Obviously such a proposition does not offer the luxury of 12mths of stability testing to prepare your special jar of moisturiser. So, it is very likely that the base formulation will have been pre-developed to ensure its stability and microbial safety, and the actives as well as preservatives must be robust and compatible and pretested to ensure no negative interaction can happen.

    This means that the bank of ingredients and formulations are limited (and rightly so), which will give you little say in the fragrance, category of ingredients (for instance natural or not natural), etc.. 

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  2. The mix and match personalised skincare
    Brands such as Clinique or Skin Inc. and to some extend Software are based on a different system where a base formula with an option of “insertable actives” in the form of a cartridge or beads is offered to the consumer to choose from to make the final formula more specific to their skin.
    These products are a much more generic version of a bespoke skin care product as the choice of base is limited to what is on shelf, which means you have little say about what goes in it (see above paragraph).
    Even if you are offered the option of mixing it yourself at home (see You.ology), you are still making a whole jar or bottle of your personalised product, which you have to keep using until finished… whilst you skin may have already changed.

    The clear advantage however is that these ‘SEMI-bespoke’ are generally much more affordable.


So, the takeout of this is that whilst “bespoke” skin care may allow some kind of flexibility and choice and provide a product slightly more suitable to your skin, the current solutions have significant drawbacks: 

  1. Most bespoke skin care brands ask you to switch your current skin care for theirs.
  2. Cost can be quite significant if you want to have the most personalised formulations
  3. You have No, or little choice what the base is made of.
  4. You will be stuck with a product for a while until jar is finished or will need to buy multiple products if skin needs change rapidly due to environment, diet or other life events


 In Conclusion, what is the best customised skin care system?

Imagine you could change your skin care product as often as your skin’s needs change, sometimes as often as daily, or even twice daily (knowing your skin could be dryer at night after a day out than it was coming out of the warm of

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your bed). Imagine you could choose the base of your moisturiser to be exactly what you like, and why not exactly the same as this beautifully fragrant cream you love so much but is not anti-age enough anymore, or the same as your safe for your sensitive skin lotion that you have been using since you turn 15 because everything else turns it bright red and itchy.

The best customised skin care is:

  • the skin care you can change at the snap of a finger by simply adding the key ingredients your skin needs now, and that can be different tomorrow.
  • It is YOUR CURRENT skin care powered with XAYA drops, designed so you can just tweak as you go, without having to buy a new jar every time your skin needs change.