To All The Skincare Products I Have Ever Used.

Revealing the wise advice for skincare through Machine Learning.

Photo by Eleonora Casalini on Unsplash

Feeling something like this?

“It is hysterical to see my skin rejecting almost all the products I tried after a week or so.”

“Sometimes it feels almost impossible to achieve even the smallest goals for my skin.”

“Using different products have got me confused about my own skin type.”

“All the extensive research that I have done on my own, have lead me down every single time except once or twice.”

If you felt any of these points hitting you hard and you really want to see some experimentation using machine learning algorithm to actually know “the WISE skincare advice” and “my open letter to all the skin care products I have ever used”, then you might have just saved yourselves some serious skin-care crimes.

Also, please note I’m not here giving false promises that you will no matter what achieve that dreamy skin. But I can definitely, give you my word that this article will give you an insight on how to acheive a better version of your skin.
So, let us just stick to healthy glows than unrealistic troublesome dreamy woes!

Okay! So, staying at home for one long year (due to this pandemic), away from the outdoors factors that would affect my skin condition, has proved my own outlook about skincare wrong. Initially, during the quarantine days, I was quite optimistic about my skincare journey and thought that now is the time when my skin would be at its best away from pollution, direct sunlight, sweat, etc. Alas! soon enough I realised the holistic view of skincare.

Earlier, I used to see the skin of my face as a different part of my body. As in, I almost believed in giving undivided attention to my face and achieving the glass skin look, by using different skincare products such as scrubs, toners, lotions, emulsion, Korean masks and what not! don’t even get me started on the line of products I have stored in my cupboard. My products kept changing without fail but the skin problems like pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, marks, acne kept visiting me like a regular customer. This pattern always left me thinking ‘WHY’, whhhyyy are these products not working even when I am at home, all this long, away from the outdoor factors that could harm my skin?!?! The answer to this agitated why lies in the holistic view of skincare I learned in the most unforeseen way.

I started to observe some patterns of how my skin would start to look better when I eat less junk, slept before I turned sleepless and did some yoga. Connecting all the dots, I found how every part and process in our body is so interlinked and interconnected that it creates a cause and effect relationship. E.g. if you eat that most desired juicy burger, sure it would satisfy your temptation for weeks to just get a bite, it would also give food to your belly, those carbs and protein would provide you with energy but that processed greasy meat can definitely cause breakouts. Keeping all of this in mind, I thought to analyse this pattern to get a clear picture of how what I did directly affected my skin. The goal was to create an ML model which could analyse the cause and effect relationship. I did this by using the SVM algorithm. This helped me to predict whatever that I should be doing right to get a better version of my skin. Doing this helped me to project the cause and effect relationship graphically, making it a lot easier to understand the holistic view all at once. So, here is how I implemented it:

  1. I created a dataset of all the activities that affected the health of my skin.
  2. Used the SVM algorithm on the data.
  3. Finally, I understood the wise way of taking care of my skin.

P.S. If you don’t feel like walking through all these steps then feel free to skip directly to the results part and my open letter to all the skincare products I have ever used.

Dataset Creation

I created the dataset based on four factors: healthy diet, adequate amount of sleep, the skincare products that I use and yoga. All four of these factors are used as the column names in my dataset as ‘eating_habit’, ‘sleeping_habit’, ‘on_skin_regimen’ and ‘yoga’. Based on these factors I have classified the health of my skin in the fourth column as ‘skin_health_type’. Typically, I can classify my skin looks into three types: ‘clear and glowing’, ‘acne prone’ and ‘irritated and acne prone’. And these three are the classification labels in this dataset.
Now, coming to the rows of the dataset. I have scored each of the factors on a scale, e.g.: for the sleeping_habit column, I have scored each row in the range of 4–6. So, if my skin condition is good on a particular day then I have scored or given the value between 6–7, similarly, if my skin health is okay-okay or bad then I have scored in the range of 5–6 and 4–5 respectively. In this way, I have created the whole dataset and scored each factor with different ranges. Given below is the picture of how the dataset looks:

The first few rows of the dataset. Image source: Author.

The SVM Algorithm

A simpler and not too much technical way to understand SVM or Support Vector Machine is:
Basically, an SVM is creating a hyperplane that has the job to classify the feature vectors or the factors that I have used in the dataset such as the ‘eating_habit’, ‘sleeping_habit’, ‘on_skin_regimen’ and ‘yoga’, as ‘clear and glowing’, ‘acne prone’ and ‘irritated and acne prone’.

To understand how SVM works, look at the image below:

Hyperplane diagram; SVM. Image Source: Author.

Consider, that I have the feature ‘eating_habit’ on the x-axis and ‘yoga’ on the y axis. Additionally, I have two classes ‘clear and glowing’ coloured as green and ‘acne prone’ coloured in yellow.

Now, I want my SVM algorithms to classify any (x,y) pair or (eating_habit, yoga) pair as ‘clear and glowing’ or ‘acne prone’ based on the scores I have given in the dataset.

To classify the features as green or yellow, the SVM algorithm needs to find an optimal hyperplane. This is done by finding the closest feature to the hyperplane from either side. Once we find the closest feature, we denote it as support vector. Now that we have found the support vectors from either side, an optimal hyperplane is created based on the distance between the hyperplane and the support vector. The goal is to maximize this distance. The maximum distance is known as the maximum margin. The hyperplane which gets the maximum margin is known as the optimal hyperplane.

This whole thing can be coded by using just a small function shown in the image below.

Image Source: Author.

Result and Analysis

Before even I start with the analyses part, you should know what is the biggest question for which I want an answer. The question is:

“Are the skincare products the root medicine to cure any skincare problem or just an substitute for the medicine?”
I mean to what extent do they really matter?

Let us find the answer:

skincare products application vs (adequate sleep, yoga and good eating). Image Source: Author.

Let's start by separately looking at the graphs.

  1. Skincare products application vs sleeping habit: this graph clearly depicts, that even if I do not regularly use my skincare products but I sleep good, by good I mean above average hours of sleep then there are more chances to get clear and glowing skin.
    I have observed this so many times before, whenever my sleeping schedule gets messed up, the first signs are shown on my face. I start to get acne and irritated skin and this is correctly depicted by the orange and the red marks in the graph on the lower side. This implies that sleeping late at night can be a probable cause of irritated and acne prone skin.
  2. Skincare products application vs yoga: This graph shows that most of the days when I was consistent with my yoga practice, I had much more clear and glowing skin compared to any other day. It can also be observed that irrespective of how religiously I use my skincare products everyday, the overall positive effect on my skin is still shown by regularly exercising. Hence, it is again proven that regular use of skincare products have a less positive effect on my skin as compared to how I nurture my body through consistent exercise.
  3. Skincare products application vs eating habit: This graph reflects the importance of keeping our gut healthy. It directly points how interrelated are skincare and a healthy gut. This is why I strongly believe whatever that goes inside your stomach, shows on your face. You can see from the graph how even a little intake of junk food can still cause pimples (the orange and red coloured markers). I have experienced this when I try to have a little portion of processed food just to savour my pallet with other important food which has protein and roughage in it. Whenever this happens, my overall skin texture remains clear but again I can see a pimple or two popping up. The occurrence of pimples increases when I frequently start having processed food or something with high carbohydrates in it such as a burger or a cheese burst pizza.

The information given by these graphs is sufficient to understand that yes, using skincare products regularly, helps your skin but only up to an extent. Hence, the right way to take care of your skin should not just be by using different skincare products. You have to understand the importance of how everything you do with your body has a direct effect on your skin. The skincare products can help you boost the quality of your skin only when you nourish and nurture yourself properly.
Keeping this learning as the crux of skincare, here is my open letter to all the skincare products I have ever used:

Photo by brian mercado on Unsplash

To,

All the skincare products I have ever used,

Sub: Letting you know what I feel about skincare as a 23-year-old now.

Dear ex skincare products,

Since the day I entered my twenties, I have been mesmerised by your aesthetic bottles, your critically acclaimed results and the clear faces of the models that I saw on the advertisements, you were used in. Little did I know back then that I was befooled by you. Simply because your company, the beauty sites and the influencers sold you in a way that was quite relatable to my situation. However, I failed to understand that I was only being sold the half baked truth.
But now after months and months of experience, I know that each and every skincare product is the same. Using a single product and kissing bye to all skin related problems, no more looks like magic to me. I now understand that skincare is not just about using skincare products and treating the skin of your face as a different part from the rest of the body. I now understand the actual meaning of skincare lies in its holistic perspective. This perspective teaches me how nourishing and nurturing my body, plays a bigger part in providing positive results as compared to just using the skincare products.
From now, I won’t be naive enough to be fooled by you because now I know how to wisely take care of my skin.

Your owner,
Pranavi

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Pranavi Vashishtha

Pranavi Vashishtha

F.H.to-AI — discovering & writing about AI and life in routine from the spectacles of a 24-year-old………. (Also, not a pineapple lover just a neural head! 🍍)