Taking care of your skin can be one of the trickiest things in the world. Do I need this cleanser or that cleanser? Is it time to start using retinol? Am I applying enough SPF? As tricky as a skincare routine is by itself, adding in other factors makes understanding your skin even more confusing.
Being a college student means eating a few too many bean burritos or scoops of ice cream, and neither of those are doing my skin any favors. Being a college can also mean a serious lack of sleep, which is a big yikes for my health all around. Even though I tend to be self-aware of my bad lifestyle, wellness and beauty habits, it’s easy to get caught up in them and not realize what I’m doing to my skin – until it’s too late.
In comes Skinary, an upcoming app from Her Campus alum Bianca Harris. Skinary is a health tracking app to help you understand how your habits cause your skin concerns. Harris realized there wasn’t a skin-tracking app out in the world that truly fit the needs of the average consumer, without having to buy something fancy or have a significant concern. With the help of Skinary, you can track your skin and hear from professionals on what you can, and should, do to achieve glowy, better skin.
Her Campus: When and how did you realize there was a need for an app like Skinary?
Bianca Harris: I had really severe acne growing up, and it finally got better as I got older, up until a year ago when I had a breakout right after the Holidays. I had no idea what triggered it – was it my diet or just life stressing me out? The next opening for my first dermatology appointment was two months away, so I was looking for any and all solutions until then.
I already use apps and digital accessories for tracking my health and managing my weight. Being able to see correlations between my diet and weight helped me build better habits pretty quickly, so I figured I could do the same thing with my face. After I spent weeks testing out what felt like every “skin app,” I realized that if I wasn’t tracking a serious medical condition, or buying a customized product, I couldn’t use my phone to help me understand my skin and make better choices. Being tech savvy, wellness-obsessed and convinced this could help, I decided to build Skinary.
HC: How exactly does Skinary work? Can you tell me a little about the features of the app we can get excited to see?
BH: Skinary uses machine-learning and selfies to give habit recommendations for healthier skin. We believe “healthy skin is an inside job,” so our team of scientists all approach our recommendations using integrative and wellness focused methods. We have Skin Therapists, Nutritionists, Medical Aestheticians and a Hormone Therapist putting together the recommendations. We want to help users navigate their way to healthy skin.
A new user tells us what their diet, cleansing and lifestyle habits are during their profile setup and their skin concerns with a selfie. We suggest a few habits you should start building on the first day. Over time, as a user tells us their eating, lifestyle and cleansing habits, in addition to taking selfies, we are able to start suggesting more personal recommendations and challenges. Also, with all of the selfies they have taken, premium users can download time-lapse videos to watch and share how their skin has changed over time with their new set of habits! I’m really excited about that!
HC: How do you see this helping people who are struggling with their skin?
BH: I’ve gone through stages of not leaving the house without makeup, or spending tons of time and money testing products that I think could be the miracle cure. My goal is to help others avoid that and educate them on what habits let them have their healthiest skin, and empower them with better information.
If you are having skin struggles there is always an underlying root cause to it – maybe it’s almond milk, a stressful break-up or over-exfoliation. We really want to help our audience understand the root causes of their biggest skin concerns and make positive changes to their lives everyday.
HC: How do you think Skinary could have helped you as a college student?
BH: I would have probably stopped eating mozzarella every weekend, falling asleep with my makeup on and washed my pillowcase every week! But in hindsight, I think my confidence would have been better, and I would have spent my money on experiences instead of high coverage foundations and acne treatments. My sophomore year I had acne from the waist up, and cystic acne on my face for my spring semester. It really hurt my self-esteem to feel out of control of what was happening with my skin.
HC: How do you see Skinary impacting the work of dermatologists and daily skincare habits?
BH: My Scientific Advisory board and mentors are made up dermatologists, nutritionists, medical estheticians, hormone and skin therapists, and they all agree – if their patients came in with a recap of their habits, a time lapse video of what was going on with their face, it would make a diagnosis a lot easier, more effective and better for the patient!
With the app, people will begin to see how their habits affect their skin. There will be less guesswork about what worked best, and also what their skin looked like a few months ago compared to today. We demystify holistic skin health and give personalized recommendations.
HC: The beauty industry is becoming more and more digitized. What makes Skinary a key tool for understanding your skin, habits, etc.?
BH: I grew up in a household that prioritized natural beauty and staying with technology, and seeing tech and beauty collide in the industry feels really natural, and perfect timing. I started Skinary as a digital health company because our health is the most important thing to us, and so is how we reflect that outwardly. Skinary will be the company that will help people understand how 360 health, is how you get to your best self and our app is the new must-have tool for that full body healthy to have glory skin from the inside out.
We have a long term vision, and are starting off with an app because that is way more convenient than doing an office tour to get answers. Buying and testing products until you get the perfect cocktail isn’t do-able for everyone – and doesn’t get to the root of what is causing concerns. Scheduling time with a dermatologist, nutritionist, hormone therapist, and aesthetician to understand how to have healthy skin is an investment in time and money. We are becoming a skin therapist in your hand, and on demand – personalized to what you have done over time.
That will really empower the everyday person to understand what their body loves, and how it reacts to what it doesn’t. My goal for Skinary is to be super easy tool that can listen to what you are doing, what your concerns are and help you become your best healthy self – with some healthy and glowing skin.
HC: What are some of *your* key daily habits for maintaining glowing skin?
BH: For cleansing, my personal routine is pretty low key. I cleanse (double cleanse if I wore makeup), tone, use essence and moisturize – and I pat it into my skin! I’m consistently always using SPF and limit how much sun I get when I am on vacation. I think that part has paid off the most because I’m 30, and I get mistaken for a college student in Boston all the time!
For lifestyle, I aim to drink 3L of water, get a solid 6 hours of sleep (that’s all I need) and do 20 mins of cardio everyday. Sometimes I am really good about this, other times I’m not because things with the business get hectic -but I always feel and look better when I am hydrated and got my heart rate up.
For my diet, I am trying to switch to a vegetarian diet, since I feel best when I am loaded up on veggies – but I make sure to get probiotics in every way, vitamins, yogurt, kombucha. I bloat, and my face flares up when my gut isn’t healthy.
HC: As a female founder, what has been your biggest takeaway from starting a business from the ground up?
BH: Talk about what you want to achieve, and the work you are putting behind it to make it happen. If you are excited, and working hard, on an idea – other people can’t help to catch that excitement and support you. That’s how most of my support system and team has formed. They are just as excited as I am, and that really helps when the highs are high, and the lows are low.
You can expect to be able to download Skinary in spring 2020, so start practicing those good habits now. With professional advice at your fingertips, better skin is on its way.