Skin Care: Can Big Data Solve This?

When I was 12 years old, I had my first pimple. I know this seems young, but I remember that because I was actually kind of excited to have my first pimple, thinking “I’m finally an adult.” My brother had been suffering through it for four years already, and I had been wondering when it would be my turn. I didn’t realize what a stigma it had associated with it in public until I went to school the next day and got the stares and questions from my friends. “What happened to your face?” “What is that red bump? A bug bite?”

My whole family has had it. We have never found anything that really works to keep it away. My mom felt sorry for me and took me to a dermatologist when I was young who prescribed Retin-A and sometimes antibiotics. Retin-A is a strong retinol cream that promotes skin cell turnover and promotes skin rejuvenation. I was supposed to put it on at night only because it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. I never really felt that it worked. I still got whiteheads and, gosh, my nose! Blackheads everywhere! I am a middle-aged adult now, but I still have them. How do I get rid of them?

My Question is

Am I the only person out there with a skin sensitivity that leads to acne who is frustrated with the myriad of “acne” products that don’t actually work? I am getting so frustrated with trying to figure out what products work for my skin. And I feel for my sons who will inevitably be stricken with this problem when they become teenagers.

Through this blog, I want to find answers. I don’t want to promote my own products or the products of others. I want to understand why a product might work for my friend but not for me. I am a scientist by training in the biomedical sciences, and I have a great interest in learning from data. In this age of big data, the answer has to be out there, right?

My Question to you is

I have a favor to ask of you. I will post here resources and information about new skin research and what is known about skin sensitivities and products that work. I would even like to include interviews with experts in the field. But I want this to be a community effort with greater benefits than just being a collection of resources and information. I want to know your story, what is your skin like, where are you from, what products has your skin reacted to, and what products do you like and why. I will use that data to understand what role demographics, geography, and skin properties play in reactions to skin care products. With enough data, we may even be able to narrow it down to the ingredient that causes the reaction.

As I wrote above, I would like this to be a community with not just my content posted here. I will keep information anonymous and de-identified, but if you don’t mind sharing some of your stories I will post that here, too.

And this doesn’t have to be just about acne. I think big data could help answer many questions related to skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and skin aging. You tell me. Are you like me and want answers? What do you think would be helpful?

 

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