I Tried a Futuristic Virtual Skin Diary, and Now I'm Obsessed

My non-beauty industry friends ask me all the time how I can tell if the skincare products I use actually work. It's easy to figure out the efficacy of products that treat acne or reduce dark circles: You can physically see those changes. But how do you know if a toner is actually toning or if your moisturizer is actually strengthening your skin's natural barrier?

It takes a while to see results or changes in your skin; there are some things you can't just see with the naked eye right at the beginning. But if you really can't wait to see results and want some sort of indication that your products are working, that's where the newly launched YouCam Makeup Skin Diary app comes in handy. Using artificial intelligence, YouCam Makeup matches you with the perfect shade of whatever makeup product you're looking for (aka virtual swatching), and now it's rolling out a program that analyzes your skincare routine.

“Skincare is the foundation of every healthy beauty regimen, and facial care is especially relevant for our community,” says Adam Gam, vice president of marketing at Perfect Corp. “This helps users better understand their overall skin health and track skin conditions over time in order to make empowered beauty decisions.”

To use the app, you first take a selfie under good lighting. The program will then use its skin diagnostic tool to analyze your skin against the tens of thousands of images in YouCam's internal face database and give you a score on the following: skin health, skin age, spots, wrinkles, texture, and dark circles. Scored out of 100, if you get anything 90 and above, your skin health is in the top 10% of all its users. If you get anything between 66 and 89, you're hitting just at average. If you get anything 65 or under, it might be a sign that the products you're using aren't effective or the right fit for you.

“This new innovative way to track our skin health is allowing us to create a ritual, and with this ritual we are able to easily identify key factors affecting our glow,” says Gam.

I decided to give it try while testing out the skincare line from Honest Beauty: Clearing Acne, which includes a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer. On the first day of documenting and before I used any of the new products, my score read as the following: skin health, 81; skin age, 14; spots, 78; wrinkles, 84; texture, 84; dark circles, 73.

I documented every single day for two weeks. The results were pretty good. My score steadily increased, and I started to notice a change in my skin. The Clearing Cleanser is made with a wintergreen-derived salicylic acid that did help clear pores and reduce the redness of a pimple that oh so casually appeared in the middle of my nose. The Clearing Night Serum, which contains retinol, made my skin smoother and the Soothing Daily Moisturizer kept it hydrated. My final score read: skin health, 87; skin age, 21; spots, 80; wrinkles, 90; texture, 87; dark circles, 75.

The only issue is really mustering up the energy to take a picture of yourself right before you start layering on those products. Gam recommends to take the picture at the same time every day for the best results, but we know life happens and sometimes that's easier said than done. But once you get over that initial laziness, this is a painless (and did we mention free?) way to keep your skin on a healthy track.

If you're someone like me who loves to try different products all the time, this is a great tool to weed out the types of products that work on you and the ones that don't. The point of it isn't really about getting to 100, which, in a perfect world, we would be able to get to. It's about seeing progress in the products you use and encouraging you to make smart decisions when it comes to your skin. Looks like I'll be keeping my phone near me when I wash my face at night.