Olay is Bringing Machine Learning to Skin Care

Selfies are getting serious.

Mobile World Congress had at least one newcomer at this year’s show — Olay. Yep, every company is a tech company in 2017. The skincare brand made an appearance to show off an update to their smart skincare system, powered by the most advanced machine learning technology available (and selfies).

The Olay Skin Advisor has actually been in beta since the end of last year, but at MWC, Olay announced that their system is ready for prime time, with a big 2.0 update coming soon. The advisor works similar to other augmented reality recommendation engines we’ve seen in cosmetics, like what ModiFace and FaceCake have been doing.


Step one is taking a selfie. Of course, not any selfie is going to do — the advisor will help you upload one that actually reflects how your skin looks in real life, although in 2017, we’re thinking a lot of us are already pros at getting the right lighting for optimal selfies. But, to make sure the program has the right idea, there’s a follow-up questionnaire about current skincare habits to hone the personalization engine.

Here’s where things get advanced. The app will pore over your selfie pixel by pixel, mercilessly picking apart your face and identifying flaws — I guess it’s easier to take when it’s a machine doing the nitpicking. You’ll get breakdowns for the forehead, cheeks, mouth, crow’s feet and under-eye, with detailed information about how old each part looks and what can be done to make them look not so old. Olay is using a machine learning engine powered by Nvidia’s deep learning platform, so I don’t think they’re exaggerating about the pixel thing.


Of course, the whole point is to recommend products to add to your skincare regimen, which you can then purchase easily. But, the app will also give you suggestions about how you can tweak daily habits to get your skin looking better.

This isn’t the first time technology and skincare have crossed paths. Last year we got a look at OKU, a portable skin scanner that worked with an app to analyze skin and provide recommendations. But, both OKU and the Olay Skin Advisor are similar to each other and the good old days of recommendations from the people at the beauty counter in one way — they’re only going to work with time and commitment. No shortcuts in the skincare game! Well, not yet, anyway.

The updated version of the Olay Skin Advisor will be available in March. It currently only exists as a web app (probably because it needs that Nvidia horsepower behind cloud servers to work its magic), but you’ll need to use either a tablet or a smartphone to use it.