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Could a Chatbot Be Your Next Dermatologist?

When it comes to skincare products, most people have no idea what they’re putting on their faces. Marketing power is usually the sole driving force behind skincare product selection, and a lot of the time, we’re not using what’s best for our skin type. HelloAva, a chatbot that surveys individuals on their skin health, is aiming to change this by directing patients to appropriate skincare products through using AI algorithms.

HelloAva’s conception doesn’t follow your typical start-up trajectory. The chatbot is the brainchild of former Bloomberg anchor, Sique Mou, and her fellow students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Mou was inspired to start HelloAva after doing a skincare commercial in Indonesia. While preparing for the job, she researched the ingredient list, and was overwhelmed by the number of chemicals and preservatives. Not only disheartened by the expansive market of unsafe products, she was frustrated by the trial and error process people go through when searching for the right brand. Mou wanted to create a professional and systemized way to match specific products to skincare needs. In millennial terms, she realized that the skincare industry was missing a chatbot.

Through basic text messaging or Facebook Messenger, the HelloAva chatbot quizzes users on 12 dermatologic questions that were partially authored by dermatology faculty at Mount Sinai Hospital. The questions allow the bot to identify and categorize your skin type. Users also send along a photo of their face, which is forwarded along to a human advisor who will cross-check the bot’s algorithm to make sure its assessment is correct. The bot then generates a list of recommended products that can be delivered to your door.

Currently, HelloAva has 250 products in its database, the vast majority being Korean brands with the exception of L’Oréal. The app launched in May.


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