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Rethink with Renude

news | Jun 19, 2024

We meet the founders of a new AI-powered beauty tool making skincare advice more accessible to all

Text by Augustine Hammond

We’re all familiar with the laborious testing process involved in finding the right products for our skin’s unique needs. Just when you think you’ve hit the jackpot, another buzzy product arrives and you're back to square one again. Renude, a digital beauty solution, aims to solve this age-old issue.

Renude was founded in 2020 by Cate Nisson, a data scientist, and Pippa Harman, who has over a decade of experience at companies like Boots and Beauty Pie as a former cosmetic scientist. Using the latest AI technology to streamline and personalise skincare routines, the company aims to eliminate the guesswork that plagues so many consumers.

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By combining the expertise of dermatologists, aestheticians, formulation chemists, and data scientists, Renude aims to both simplify skincare and to democratise access to professional advice. Skincare, Nisson and Harman argue, should be accessible to everyone, regardless of skin type or background. Through strategic partnerships with Laboratoire SVR and Simple, the brand hopes to see a personal approach to skincare become the norm rather than the exception.

We caught up with Pippa to find out more… 

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind founding Renude and the problem it aims to solve in the skincare industry? 

The problem we solve is the endless trial-and-error process that consumers are expected to go through to find the right skincare. We know that 24% of the population visit the GP every year for their skin, but only 6% of these get referred to an NHS dermatologist due to severe shortages of specialists. The other 94% are likely to receive a GP prescription, but if this doesn’t work (which is often the case without broader routine advice), people end up deciding to self-manage with skincare products. This leads to consumers misdiagnosing, feeling overwhelmed, and a huge investment of time and money spent researching and trialling new products, often without seeing results (and frequently exacerbating problems further). Renude solves this by delivering accessible, personalised skincare advice at scale.

According to your recent study, individuals spend nine working days per year researching skincare before making purchases, yet 62% of the products bought are unsuitable for their skin. How does Renude address this challenge?

Renude’s technology offers AI skin analysis and personalised skincare routines to consumers, both via its on-consumer site and through partnerships with other brands and retailers. In both cases, consumers can complete a skin questionnaire and upload selfie images to be analysed, then our system generates a personalised skincare routine tailored to their needs. The goal is to deliver visible improvements, which we do in 94% of cases. This fast-tracks consumers to the results they’re looking for. 

Through our B2C service, customers can also book a video call with one of our licensed aestheticians to discuss their skin in more detail, and all consultations have a period of expert messaging included after receiving the routine to answer any follow-up questions.

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Renude claims to be the first AI of its kind to combine comprehensive skin analysis with the ability to think like hundreds of highly trained experts. Could you elaborate on how this AI system works and what sets it apart from other skincare technologies?

AI of any type is built from data, and the quality of that data is paramount for achieving an accurate system. Our AI has been built on the real experiences of Renude customers since the launch of the company, and the advice that our team of aestheticians have shared with them. 

To train the skin analysis system to assess the skin as a professional would, we have worked with Consultant Dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk to build training guidelines to recognise and differentiate skin conditions across all skin tones. Some of these guidelines exist, and some do not, even within dermatology training, so it was essential for us to work with an experienced professional to define these. For example, there are currently no training references on how erythema (redness) presents on dark skin. If you are not able to train AI to recognise this, you will build a system which can’t, so it is essential to define these in order to build inclusive AI. 

Once we have run the AI skin analysis, we then use Machine Learning to create a step-by-step skincare routine. This has been built from over 100,000 recommendations our licensed aestheticians have made since launch, combined with 60,000 review responses we have collected from our customers to validate these recommendations. Each time a customer tells us how they have got on, and uploads new photos, our system gets more intelligent. We also have a significant database of skincare ingredients, each mapped for their impact to a formulation. This allows us to analyse any product based on the ingredient list to understand its efficacy and texture profile, and determine who it should be recommended for. 

Your partnership with Laboratoire SVR brings together a legacy of skin-healing expertise with cutting-edge technology. How did this collaboration come about, and what do you hope to achieve through it?

We have been recommending Laboratoire SVR products since we launched Renude. They have excellent efficacy and really great sensory experiences too, and have received consistent glowing feedback from our audience. Being a French pharmacy brand, they are primarily recommended by professionals. They wanted to find a way to deliver the same highly personalised service to their online customers on-demand, and after 4 years of R&D, Renude was at a point where our AI could provide this. 

With the growing popularity of AI in the beauty industry, some critics argue that these innovations are merely marketing hype. How does Renude differentiate itself from other AI-driven skincare solutions, and what evidence do you have to support its effectiveness?

There are varying levels of solutions on the market, and how they perform will be based on how they have been built and the data that has been used to build them. 

Since the beginning of Renude, we have been conscious of making every decision to optimise for accuracy. This has involved a longer process, collecting each data point manually through our B2C service to ensure it is reflective of genuine customer experiences and actual expert decisions. Now that we have collected a significant volume, we have used AI to recreate these expert decisions and offer a truly reliable service. 

We tested our AI diagnostics with a panel of Harley Street Dermatologists and achieved 94% accuracy on average.

As technology continues to evolve, how do you envision Renude adapting and innovating in the future to meet the changing needs of consumers?

We are expanding our technology to offer more ways for consumers to get on-demand advice. We currently recommend a complete skincare routine based on image and questionnaire analysis, but this is not always how consumers want to shop. Perhaps they have heard about a new product launch and are wondering if it’s right for them, or they have questions about how to look after their skin while on holiday, for example. 

Beauty consumers are more curious than ever, but also more overwhelmed, so giving them the right information at the right time, which is both personal and informative is paramount. 

We currently have a team of aestheticians behind the scenes answering all of these queries for Renude customers, and the next phase of our technology is looking at how we can make this broader personalised advice more scalable.

Finally, what do you believe is the future of skincare?

The future of skincare is personalised, expert-led and sustainable. 

Personalisation is here to stay. It is key to saving time on research, and ultimately reducing overwhelm and decision fatigue. We offer a simpler, smarter way of shopping for skincare. 

Expertise is also key. We are seeing a growing number of professional profiles on social media; dermatologists, doctors, aestheticians and even formulators building communities through sharing their expertise. 

Awareness of sustainability is growing within the industry too. It doesn’t yet outweigh efficacy and price, but it is important for many people, and as a result, brands are making more effort in this area. The consumer is starting to buy less but buy better. This means buying higher-priced, multifunctional products and scaling back routines to consume less products overall. 

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