Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer's beauty company wants your DNA. Is it a gimmick?

Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer pose for Know Beauty skincare ad. (Photo: KnowBeauty/Instagram)
Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer pose for Know Beauty skincare ad.

Does an oily T-zone mean oily skin, or does combination skin more accurately describe your face? Is your skin really too sensitive for retinol? Thanks to Know Beauty, a new skincare brand from High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens and singer and influencer Madison Beer, you won’t need a dermatology degree — or even a trip to the doctor — to properly assess your skin.

In lieu of simply selling their products and hoping their customers know exactly what will work for their skin, Know Beauty, which was also co-founded by Los Angeles dermatologist Dr. Karen Kagha, offers a DNA testing kit to its customers, with results that point towards the most ideal products from the brand. The company’s mantra is that skincare shouldn’t be trial and error.

“Everyone’s skin is unique, because we’re born with genetic factors that behave differently,” the Know Beauty website reads. “By taking a closer look at our DNA, we can understand how to support these genetic variants through hard working ingredients.”

Those genetic variants include things like collagen quality, sensitivity, elasticity and hyperpigmentation. Not only does the test assess how your skin is at this moment, it uses the information gathered from your DNA to predict what issues may arise in the future, like declining collagen production. In addition to your DNA test, the company also requests its customers take a lifestyle quiz to give a more holistic picture of your skin’s health.

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Alas, this high-tech skincare analysis comes at an arguably pretty pricey cost: The DNA test alone will run customers $95. (It is not available for purchase in New York due to state regulations.) And not everyone is a fan: One TikTok reviewer pointed out that the test only tells you what products from Know Beauty’s line will work for you — not specific ingredients. Another social media user pointed out that while the DNA test may make the line seem like “customized” skincare, the company is selling premade products.

Yahoo Life spoke to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dustin Portela of Boise, Idaho, about whether Know Beauty’s method was sound.

“The DNA test would likely give them some information on your ethnicity and ancestry which would certainly speak to how much risk someone has toward pigmentation problems or rosacea, for example,” he explains. “However, I can get this information from a patient by seeing them in person, or simply asking them where their family came from, which most individuals know.”

The quiz, he says, matches up with what he might ask a patient about during their initial consultation.

“I’m not sure the DNA test really provides a lot of value vs. going to a dermatologist,” he shares. “My gut tells me it’s a gimmick that will help to lock someone into a subscription model with the company because only that company 'knows' their skin conditions, and has the right remedy for it.”

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Still, that doesn’t mean the products couldn’t help your skin, and it isn’t necessary to take the DNA test in order to purchase them. The brand’s moisturizers, cleansers, night creams, serums and lip therapy lines range from $20 to $40, while bundles featuring three products cost $80.

“I do like that the founders include a board-certified dermatologist,” Dr. Portela explains of the brand’s relationship with Dr. Kagha. “That is important, and at first glance the products look good. I would bet they would be pleasant to use. The ingredient lists look pretty good in my opinion. No red flags there that I can see.”

There’s no question that Know Beauty is hoping that its customers will be more thoughtful than “adding to cart” whatever your favorite influencer is currently using in their routine. However, you likely don’t need an entire DNA test in order to properly assess your skin — and a trip to the derm may be even more beneficial.

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