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Artificial intelligence is making its mark on the beauty industry, whether you like it or not. From changing the way people interact with brand activations to bridging the gap between the beauty and tech spaces, over the next few years, you can expect AI to become as commonplace as any other social media application you readily access on your phone.

One generative AI technology in particular that has the masses talking is ChatGPT. The system can be used for everything from planning trips to writing essays, so it’s no surprise that some people have begun to use it to request “personalized” skin-care routines and advice. Particularly on TikTok, people have explained how they use ChatGPT for everything from product recommendations for specific skin concerns to rating the efficacy of their current lineup.

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With this approach to skin care becoming more popular, we asked board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, to rate the skin-care advice that ChatGPT has been doling out. Read ahead to see how Dr. Henry evaluates the system’s answers.

Prompt: How Can I Properly Pop a Pimple?
ChatGPT: It’s generally best to avoid popping pimples, but if you must, clean the area, use a sterilized needle, and apply an antiseptic afterward. If unsure, consult a dermatologist.
Dr. Henry: ChatGPT is correct. I generally say not to pop your pimples, because it’s hard to do it the right way, using the right pressure or tools. When you do it incorrectly, you increase your risk for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or a dark spot. Depending on your skin type, you may have a red spot that persists for a long time, so I typically recommend that you have your dermatologist do this for you. Still, as the system said, if you must pop a pimple at home, use a sterilized needle, squeeze it gently, and clean the area appropriately afterward.

Prompt: How Can I Shrink My Pores?
ChatGPT: To minimize pores, maintain a consistent skin-care routine. Use a gentle cleanser, exfoliate regularly, and incorporate products with retinoids or niacinamide. Stay hydrated and protect your skin from sun damage.
Dr. Henry: That would be correct but with a few additional, more advanced treatments if you want to see significant results. Cleansing appropriately and using products like retinol and peptides are really great, but in-office procedures like chemical peels and lasers are also good tools to have in your arsenal. The latter is wonderful for stimulating collagen. If you think of your pore as the mouth of a drawstring bag, you close it by crowding it. So with lasers, we stimulate collagen around the mouth of the pore, which helps to close it and give it less of a pronounced appearance.

Prompt: What Actually Works to Treat Dark Circles?
ChatGPT: Addressing dark circles involves proper sleep, hydration, and a good skin-care routine. Consider using products with ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and hyaluronic acid. If persistent, consult a dermatologist for personalized advice.
Dr. Henry: For this one, ChatGPT was on the right track, but it missed a few critical ingredients that we often use to treat dark circles around the eyes. Vitamin C is good for brightening. Retinol and retinoids are great for stimulating collagen and thickening up the area a bit. But what wasn’t mentioned is caffeine. It’s often used in eye creams because it helps to close engorged blood vessels that can get puffy with time, lack of sleep, or due to allergies. We sometimes use other brightening ingredients like arbutin and licorice extract, but if we can’t address the issue solely with skin care, we do more advanced procedures like filler injections. The injectables do use hyaluronic acid, but instead of topically, the gel form fills the space under the eye left by any hollowing from losing weight, fat dropping in the face.

Prompt: How Can You Tell the Difference Between Dry Skin and Eczema?
ChatGPT: Dry skin may be temporary and related to factors like weather, while eczema is a chronic condition with symptoms like red, inflamed, and itchy skin. If unsure, consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
Dr. Henry: This one is a good, brief overview, but again, it left out some pretty critical information. Of course, dry skin can be situational, especially in the winter when radiators and space heaters are on and it’s generally much drier in general. Some people may also just genetically not produce a lot of oil, so it can be a function of your environment but also the body. Eczema on the other hand is completely different — it’s inflammatory, and there are numerous types that people can experience, like hereditary and asteatotic eczema, which you can get from your parents and being chronically dry, respectively. The critical differences to look out for when trying to tell eczema and dry skin apart are three things: significantly scaly skin, intense itching, and redness.

Prompt: Does Oil Go Before or After Moisturizer?
ChatGPT: In general, apply oil after moisturizer. The moisturizer helps lock in water content, and then applying oil on top helps seal in that moisture. This order helps to ensure that your skin receives hydration first, followed by the sealing properties of the oil. However, skin-care routines can vary based on personal preferences and specific products. Always check the instructions on your skin-care products, as some formulations may suggest a different order of application.
Dr. Henry: Yes, oil does go after moisturizer, as it is more occlusive, which just means that it holds on to moisture. If you don’t lock it in, there’s something called transepidermal water loss, which means that hydration can get lost into the environment and pulled from your skin, especially if the area that you live in is fairly dry.

As you can see, while ChatGPT can give some pretty good surface-level answers to your skin-care questions, there are nuances and alternatives that it does not suggest. This is why seeing a professional is a nonnegotiable in your skin-care journey.

“This system can sometimes be scarily good when answering simple questions,” Dr. Henry says. “Still, when it gets something wrong, it’s often wildly incorrect, to the point when you can risk serious harm. We have to remember that this system is not the expert and at the end of the day, humans and their expertise still matter.”

Image Source: Courtesy of Dr. Michelle Henry