- I tried creating a personalized anti-aging skincare routine using ChatGPT.
- It took a few attempts to get usable instructions, which were long, overwhelming, and expensive.
- I think people with specific skin concerns should stick to dermatologists, who can give better advice.
While I’ve been wary of AI, I also know that its rapidly growing ubiquity is beyond my control. Instead of worrying about how it’ll eventually replace me, I’m better off learning how this technology works.
As a skincare reporter, I decided a good test would be to compare ChatGPT to my usual interviews with dermatologists. So, I asked the AI for a personalized skincare routine, one that would address anti-aging concerns in a 31-year-old woman.
While I did eventually get a plan that was feasible, it felt unrealistic and overpriced. I didn’t come away with any groundbreaking knowledge, but I did leave feeling reassured that AI probably won’t replace me or dermatologists anytime soon.
The advice was overwhelming and unhelpful
My first prompt was, “Write a skincare routine to reduce wrinkles in a 31-year-old woman.”
The routine it gave me felt generally similar to advice I’ve heard from dermatologists in the past — using peptide products and sunscreen are indeed good anti-aging skincare habits.
But it provided a lot of vague variations and product suggestions, with limited guidance on what order to put the products on or what time of day to use them — for example, many dermatologists recommend only using retinol at night because sunlight can make it less effective. Other products, like vitamin C serum, are usually recommended for morning use. Some retinols or exfoliants can also cause irritation or breakouts if you use them every day.
I tried again, this time asking, “What are the best anti-aging skincare products for a 31-year-old woman?” This list was a little more specific, but didn’t tell me how to use them or if it was ok to layer on several at once.
I felt bombarded with information, which is a common barrier to starting and sticking to a new skincare routine. I craved specificity — not all serums are made the same — and I wanted someone to just tell me what to buy.
Writing an extremely specific prompt led to better (and creepier) results
Frustrated, I decided to zoom in a little more and ask for “a daily skincare routine with specific product recommendations for a 31-year-old woman targeting forehead wrinkles.”
This, by far, was the best plan: A 6-step routine for both the morning and evening.
Creepily, it suggested three items I already use — my retinol serum, makeup remover, and sunscreen. The odds of picking these three from the thousands of options out there feel slim. I don’t know if I want to know how it gathered this information, so I’m just going to assume it’s a very eerie coincidence.
I think I’ll stick with dermatologists
Even though I’ve heard of all the brands ChatGPT recommended, and dermatologists have recommended the same products to me in the past, I still found the AI-generated routine too long and confusing.
One of the biggest perks of going to a reputable dermatologist is learning what you don’t need. Some products, like toner, might not be necessary for your skin type. Plus, some types of wrinkles can only fade from in-office procedures like Botox or lasers — something AI can’t assess (yet).
If I bought all the most expensive products ChatGPT recommended, I’d spend over $267 and commit to a lengthy regimen that might not even give me the results I want. I’d be slathering on cream after cream, hoping something would smooth my fine lines without accidentally damaging my skin barrier in the process.
I could see ChatGPT being useful for quickly finding a specific skincare product, as the ones it aggregated are popular among dermatologists and social media users alike. But for anything more complex, I’ll stick to the professionals.