Smart skin care: how these advancements can change skin health

Smart skin care is just a small part of a larger evolution taking place in many industries right now, with the exponential growth of information technologies through the digital age initiating the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Characterised by a blurring between biological, physical and digital worlds, the pace and scale of advancement is something we have never seen before in history. This has given rise to “smart” technologies that influence almost every aspect of our lives.

According to Netlingo, the term “smart” originally comes from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” but became widely known as “smart” because of the notion of allowing previously inanimate objects to talk back to us and even guide our behaviour.

Rather than simply sending and receiving information, smart technologies offer interaction and greater control which delivers a more personalised experience for the consumer. From smart homes or cars to smart wearables, like your watch or fitness tracker, we are using all sorts of technologies like AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, and big data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to objects that were in the past considered inanimate, thereby facilitating everyday actions and connecting our activities.

Smart technology benefits us with convenience, supporting sustainability, improved security, efficiency and can save time and money. With such impressive benefits, it is no wonder this is permeating all aspects of life.


What is smart skin care and how does it benefit the customer?

To some extent, the definition of smart skin care depends on who you are speaking to. With a potentially very broad application and relevance, it is helpful to try and understand how different brands and products might suggest they are part of the smart skin care revolution.

Since most people would initially associate the idea of smart skin care with smart technology, it is not surprising there has been growth both in digital devices and digital applications to assess, track and advise on skin care issues. This area of development from using AI along with other data driven technologies has certainly accelerated.

However, ‘smart’ is not necessarily always about technology. Some brands are leveraging their sustainability credentials to infer a smart or intelligent ethical choice to attract consumers to their product. This is, of course, not about how a product functions or the direct benefit to the skin but a statement of society’s challenges and choices in a much wider context. 

Innovative forms of smart delivery for skin care ingredients have also improved the impact of cosmetic formulas, ensuring actives penetrate the skin and are transferred to specific target cells. Intelligent drone technology is one such example of a highly targeted delivery. The active ingredient is encapsulated in a polymeric shell surrounded by peptide ligands that target specific cell receptors, so the active ingredient is directly delivered to a specific cell, such as a fibroblast cell which generates dermal proteins, where it can take action.

Once locked onto the cell receptor, the cell can internalize the capsule and the active is released right into the cell. Rather than a generic, indiscriminate, hit-and-miss general application, these encapsulated actives can be taken to exactly where they are needed in the skin to have the best effect.


How is Dermalogica using smart skin care?

The advancements in human sciences- from epigenetics to the human microbiome to metabolomics- are all informing ingredient technologies and product development. There has been a huge acceleration in new ways to address skin conditions, with much of the research underpinned by these new understandings driven by big data. 

Part of this evolution is to make skin care much more personal and to find products that can work for the individual. On one hand, formulations are becoming much more sophisticated and multifunctional, but on the other you have the production of unique, highly individualised products being custom made.

Smart actives are ingredients that have the ability to ‘switch on’ when they detect minute biological changes in your skin, delivering what your skin needs when and where it needs it. This micromanagement of our skin helps maintain skin health and minimises the symptoms of common concerns such as sensitivity, dehydration, dullness and ageing.

Our skin is exposed to varying environmental shifts throughout the day, increasing oxidative stress and initiating varied biological responses and chemical changes within the skin. By detecting the skin’s unique signals during these times, smart serums can adapt to your ever-fluctuating skin condition and keep skin in balance. Explore your own fluctuating skin needs with a digital skin analysis at

Dermalogica’s innovative Smart Response Serum uses four smart ingredient technologies to treat multiple skin conditions at the same time.

-       Gallic Acid from Japanese cornelia cherry senses skin’s inflammatory response, and activates to help soothe and reduce the appearance of redness.

-       Mannose-6-phosphate detects collagen weakness, responding to the first signs of visible skin aging to help smooth, firm, and improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

-       Hydrolyzed wheat flour, rich in arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides, activates when it detects too much of a key enzyme involved in melanin production. It responds by brightening skin and helping to reduce the appearance of dark spots.

-       Oligosaccharides from hydrolyzed beta glucan have a very small molecular size, and can reach even the smallest cracks in skin’s lipid barrier. They respond where they detect a deficiency in the skin’s barrier, helping skin to maintain optimal hydration levels.


Smart Response Serum also contains the following beneficial actives to support healthy-looking skin with every use:

-       A rich blend of minerals, olive oil ester, lactic acid, squalene, and microalgae improve skin texture, and support barrier protection.

-       Sodium acetylated hyaluronate (a form of hyaluronic acid) helps to smooth skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

-       Niacinamide (vitamin B3) delivers moisturizing and brightening properties.

As science and technology move forward, it is exciting to see the evolution of product solutions. More effective, more personalised, and more responsive skin care is becoming the expectation.

Learn more about Dermalogica Smart Response Serum from Dr Angela Murphy, VP research and development.


 Candice Gardner is education manager – digital and content at skincare brand Dermalogica UK and Ireland. She is responsible for managing development of all education and training course materials for the UKI, oversees development and delivery of digital learning, and is UK technical lead on product, service and professional practice standards.

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