The Digital Dermatologist Will See You Now

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Not long ago, visiting a dermatologist was primarily for those with significant skin issues or celebrities needing flawless skin for their public image. However, times have changed. Thanks to social media and the influence of celebrity culture, the pursuit of perfect skin has intensified over the past decade. A recent study revealed that Gen Z spends more on skincare than any other age group, with 2023 seeing a 20% increase in skincare spending by tweens and teens alone.

Technology has made expert dermatological advice more accessible than ever. During the pandemic, the use of “teledermatology” surged, with over 90% of dermatologists consulting via video calls and digital images compared to just 14.1% before Covid-19, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Digital dermatology has evolved rapidly, driven by advanced tools like smartphones, video apps, and artificial intelligence. These innovations have enabled global brands to offer virtual consultations, diagnosing skin issues, prescribing treatments, and creating bespoke creams. This new approach eliminates wait times, travel, and the need for face-to-face interactions. But does it deliver effective results?

“The pandemic clearly accelerated the popularity of digital dermatology, which now includes teledermatology, consumer tech, machine learning, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence,” said Shoshana Marmon, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at New York Medical College. “The increased sophistication of remote offerings is a natural progression.”

My Experience with Digital Dermatology

At 43, I had never visited a dermatologist or used prescription skincare products. However, noticing fine lines, large pores, and sun damage, I decided to try Klira, a digital dermatology service co-founded in 2021 by British dermatologist Dr. Emma Craythorne.

After completing an online questionnaire about my medical history, lifestyle, and detailed questions about my skin, including pore size and sun exposure, Klira’s in-house dermatologists reviewed my responses and photos of my makeup-free face. Within 24 hours, I received my results. I was categorized as a “SkinSize 04,” one of 12 skin categories defined by Dr. Craythorne, indicating a tendency toward blocked follicles due to excess sebum but otherwise manageable skin with regular SPF use.

Klira prescribed a bespoke solution to address cumulative UV exposure, delivered within seven days. The night-time formula included tretinoin (a prescription-only chemical exfoliant) and azelaic acid (an anti-inflammatory). This treatment aims to boost collagen production, strengthen the skin barrier, and even out skin tone.

Support is provided through an online portal with clinical notes, usage instructions, and product recommendations. Monthly check-ins are available, and you can contact the team anytime. The flexible £65 ($82) monthly subscription can be canceled anytime, though continued use is recommended to maintain results.

Fast and Convenient, but Not the Same

While noticeable changes in my skin may take at least six weeks, the speed and simplicity of the digital process were impressive. “These days, we want answers to our skin concerns fast. Using an online dermatology service, I got fantastic knowledge and experience without leaving the house or waiting,” said Claire Todd, 35, from Cleethorpes, England, who used Klira for pigmentation treatment. After eight weeks, she saw a significant difference, and at 12 weeks, her pigmentation had almost disappeared.

In Los Angeles, Emily Thompson, also 35, used AI-powered skin technology developed by Dr. Simon Ourian, dermatologist to celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Megan Fox. The AI analysis, combined with a detailed questionnaire, led to personalized product recommendations. “This analysis doesn’t replace in-person visits for serious skin concerns, but it worked for what I needed — hydrated, smoother, more radiant skin,” Thompson said.

Digital dermatology offers a convenient and effective solution for many skin concerns, combining cutting-edge technology with expert care. While it may not replace traditional dermatology for serious issues, it provides a valuable option for those seeking personalized skincare from the comfort of their homes.

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