The mask fits snugly on your face to provide a specific profile for skin treatments. Experts disagree on how effective it can be.
The advent of 3-D printing has ushered in a wave of medical developments.
It has made possible more advanced prosthetic limbs. Doctors could soon print antibacterial teeth. You might even get a 3-D-printed artificial heart.
And in 2019, 3-D printers may help you ease dry patches on your forehead, brighten dull skin, or even smooth fine lines around your eyes.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, cosmetics and skin care company Neutrogena unveiled their newest tool for helping customers find answers to their pressing skin concerns.
A 3-D-printed, ultra-personalized face mask.
It’s designed to snugly fit your face’s shape. In addition, the products applied to the mask match zones on your face so you can target specific improvements you want to see.
But could 3-D printing face masks in the name of improved skin care treatments be an unnecessary extravagance?
Or is it just the personalized solution we all need?
Experts are weighing in on both sides of this argument.
How the mask works
Face masks and sheet masks have seen their popularity soar in recent years.
They’re touted as a soothing and easy way to deliver active ingredients to your skin and help address skin care concerns such as dullness, pimples, or redness.
Most sheet masks will set you back less than $10. Some high-end ones can be upward of $75.
However, these one-size-fits-all masks can be ill-fitting, which often makes them uncomfortable to use.
Plus, some people don’t see sheet masks as a good answer to their demand for targeted treatments. You want to reduce redness in your cheeks, not your forehead. You want to even out pigmentation on your chin and upper lip, not your cheeks.
Neutrogena saw these issues and decided to design — or rather, print —around them.
The MaskiD is the next phase of the company’s 2018 Neutrogena Skin360 launch, a smartphone-enabled scanning tool that company officials say allows consumers to get dermatologist-grade readings of their skin’s needs.
The Skin360 tool uses LED lighting, moisture sensors, and a 30-times magnification lens to get a deeper and more detailed reading of your skin’s health.
MaskiD combines the Skin360 tool with a 3-D camera app to create a detailed topographical image of your face. The latest iPhones — X, XS, and XR — have 3-D cameras.
Then, using the Skin360 tool or an online questionnaire, Neutrogena divides your 3-D selfie into six skin care zones: forehead, eye area, nose, nasolabial folds, chin, and cheeks.
The software then selects ingredients that will help you solve your major skin concerns.
When your mask is finalized, Neutrogena will print it and ship it directly to you.
The company hopes that consumers will see satisfying results with the personalized masks.
They also hope customers will continue to use the Skin360 tool regularly to see their skin’s health changing. This way, they will want to continue to buy masks for themselves.
Johnson & Johnson, parent company of Neutrogena, has not released details of costs for the MaskiD yet. However, they say they hope to keep the price consistent with their drugstore product line.
“We wanted to bring a custom face mask to the Neutrogena consumer, wherever they’re living, at a price point that’s not out of reach,” said Michael Southall, a research and development leader for the company’s BeautyTech sector, said in the company’s statement.Advertisement
Can a mask solve skin care woes?
“Masks have been wildly popular in the past few years, mostly because they are a powerful and direct way of applying skin care ingredients to the face,” says Dr. Ross C. Radusky, a board-certified dermatologist at SoHo Skin & Laser Dermatology in New York City. “They look cool. They feel good and can sometimes deliver results faster than any other topically applied products.”
Radusky says the new MaskiD product is exciting because the mask won’t be solving for one skin issue alone. It could help with several.
“The 3-D camera will capture the unique contours of the face to promote better coverage and adherence to the skin, and with face masks, it’s all about what sticks,” he told Healthline.
But before you think this new product is the answer to your every skin issue, Dr. Fayne Frey,FAAD, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon in West Nyack, New York, says you shouldn’t hold out hope for major skin rewards from this product.
“Not only is there little evidence proving skin health benefits to 3-D masks, there is little, if any, science proving health benefits of any facial masks,” Frey told Healthline. “They may feel good, but are they good for you? Unfortunately, there is no science that even suggests this is so.”
“Besides, these masks are cosmetics and as cosmetics by law in the U.S., they can only intend to adorn,” she told Healthline. “If they intended to actually change the structure or function of the skin, they’d be considered drugs and have to get premarket approval by the FDA.”
Dr. Lauren Eckert Ploch, MEd, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Augusta, Georgia, and Aiken, South Carolina, says the best thing about this new product release is the attention to personalized skin care it brings.
“I do not think that personalized products are always necessary,” she told Healthline,” but a personalized regimen is a must. Not everyone can tolerate the same facial cleansers, sunscreens, retinoids, etc. It’s important for people to have a regimen that fits their skin types.”
“Theoretically, this one product could provide multiple different products for the skin at the same time,” she added.
It’s not the product itself that interests Dr. Erum Ilyas, MBE, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. She’s more interested in the technology — and how dermatologists such as herself could eventually use it with patients.
“The real benefit for this type of system is in how it could be used. The ingredients in this mask are currently mild effective moisturizers and not ‘aggressive’ anti-aging or anti-acne ingredients,” Ilyas told Healthline. “The way the current Skin360 is set up, it’s not diagnosing the true underlying cause of the skin concern.”
“But the things a dermatologist could do with this if it was to evaluate for the things we know our patients need,” Ilyas added. “Can you imagine if this was marketed to be used by dermatologists to monitor the improvement of treating underlying concerns? I would love to be able to have patients customize a mask that delivers treatment to the skin where needed, that is, adjusted based on improvement.”
The bottom line
Neutrogena’s MaskiD could help consumers find a highly personalized skin care plan, but dermatologists advise it is not a replacement for time spent with a doctor who can look at underlying issues that may be causing skin care concerns in the first place.
As a cosmetics option, the 3-D mask may be a fun way to try a unique skin care treatment.
But as a solution for actual medical issues, it’s unlikely to help.
If you’re eager to try the new custom-fit mask for yourself, you have to wait a bit longer.
Neutrogena says the masks won’t be ready for consumers until fall 2019.