A trend that was already on the up pre-Covid has exploded in the last year or so. Beauty subscription schemes have evolved beyond product edits and sampling boxes (although those are still going great guns – hello Liberty The Beauty Drop*) to genuinely useful services that save time and money. Specifically: skincare subscriptions.
Thanks to an overall trend in which skincare has become part of the self-care canon (one of the premises of my book, Face Values), start-up founders have spotted a market for people who are interested in the benefits of skincare, but overwhelmed by products and advice.
It’s really not surprising. Since the pandemic forced us to fend for ourselves beauty-wise, while inviting a wave of celebrity and influencer-fronted skincare brands, we’re being bombarded by conflicting skincare messaging, TikTok crazes and multi-step routines that can potentially do more harm than good. It makes sense then, to note the rise of a new type of concierge service that combines informed advice with bespoke product recommendations along with regular check-ins to maintain a healthy routine.
Since the ‘discovery’ boom of first-gen beauty subscriptions like Glossybox and Birchbox, brands have tweaked the model to one that’s much more targeted. From Birchbox’s new Skin Lab service to Dermatica, Skin + Me, Lion/ne and Renude, these services offer personalised treatment plans, skin mentorships and Zoom consultations that are much more beneficial than the fun but perhaps not so useful beauty sample boxes of yore.
While some services are pitched at the luxury end of the scale, Renude (top and above) is democratically priced, accessible and easy to use. Co-founded in 2020 by cosmetic scientist Pippa Harman (ex-Beauty Pie and No 7) and data scientist Cate Nisson, it’s ideal for those with specific concerns rather than people for whom skincare is more of a hobby.
You start by completing a quick ‘quiz’ and uploading mug shots to your online profile. You then choose a date for your video consultation with an experienced aesthetician and pay £20 which is redeemable against the resulting product recommendations. A further £20 is taken quarterly, which is again redeemable against products bought. You can message your appointed aesthetician for the duration, so it’s like having a personal aesthetician (not a dermatologist) on speed dial.
In the initial video chat, you can discuss your concerns and also specify budget limits. The Renude inventory is nicely varied and unbiased, from established pharmacy brands including Cerave, Bioderma and Eucerin to skintellectual favourites such as Paula’s Choice, Medik8 and Dear, Klairs, alongside affordable relative newcomers like The Ordinary and The Inkey List. Following the initial consultation, the aesthetician emails your prescribed routine, and you then order the items via the site.
Having tried out Renude, I was impressed by its user-friendliness. My product selection included a Cerave cleanser, Cosrx hyaluronic acid essence, The Inkey List serum and moisturiser and a Heliocare sunscreen (below). While the personal service felt luxurious (if informal), the chosen products were more functional.
For obvious reasons, you’re advised to stick to the routine for 12 weeks as that’s how long it takes for your skin to respond. So, while it’s not a sensorial discovery experience, it is a great one for all those people I see on forums who want a consistent, efficacious routine but are befuddled by the choices.
Another impressive aspect to the service is the AI-powered back-end, which can detect skin concerns from the images that a person uploads and link to suitable product recommendations. This underlines the benefits of the targeted approach; it means more reliable results and consequently, less waste.
With the beauty subscription box category up 97% in 2021, this tech-enabled evolution of personalised beauty is one to watch. “Today’s beauty consumers are hyper-educated,” says Victoria Buchanan, futures director at strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory. “Machine learning and algorithms are creating feedback for consumers looking to improve their skin quality, and helping brands build long-term relationships with customers. Future beauty innovations will enable customers to use their own bio-feedback to totally transform and engineer their skin.”
As other categories such as Carra for Afro and curly hair also see success in the concierge membership space, it feels like this model will have exciting potential – for consumers and brands – in the near future.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Renude skincare service by Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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