Like a lot of things, skincare products work best if they're tailored to individual users. Unfortunately, though, such bespoke items tend to be expensive. German startup Skinmade is out to change that, with kiosks that mix and dispense relatively affordable skin creams that are based on each client's unique needs.

Utilizing technology developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, the Skinmade system was first announced last December. Kiosks are now present in Douglas cosmetics stores in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Sindelfingen, with a country-wide rollout scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

Aided by a store employee, each touchscreen-equipped machine analyzes the skin on the client's forehead, cheek, and below the corner of their mouth. It utilizes methods including corneometry, in which a capacitive sensor is used to measure skin hydration levels; sebumetry, in which a strip of film is pressed against the skin and then optically analyzed in order to ascertain the skin's lipid (fat) levels; and a proprietary technique that's used to measure the skin's elasticity.

That data is processed using cloud-based machine-learning algorithms and neural networks, ultimately determining a formula for the present user. A variety of ingredients are then mixed within the machine, resulting in a 30-ml (1-oz) jar of custom face cream being dispensed within seven minutes. The cost of one jar is €40 (about US$45), and users are advised to check back to the kiosk once every six weeks, to see if a new formulation may be necessary due to changes in their skin.

Plans call for a service to be launched in which Skinmade consultants will use mobile units to perform readings in clients' homes, with the cream subsequently arriving by mail. Additionally, the company intends to offer an app-based mini analyzer for home use by clients, which should be released sometime next year.

In the meantime, potential buyers might want to check out Neutrogena's MaskiD system, which fabricates 3D-printed skincare masks that are customized to the shape and needs of each client's face.

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