I logged my skin care routine on Neutrogena’s skin analyzing app, and it freaked me out

I’m generally a pretty impulsive, intuitive, and creative person, so sticking to a routine isn’t really my thing. The only routine I follow religiously is skin care. Applying serums and moisturizers makes me feel like a cute little cherub lounging on a gilded lily pad atop fluffy clouds, so I try my best to commit the last waking hour of my evening to caring for my face.

I was minding my business on the internet, when an ad for Neutrogena’s app, Skin360, popped up on my feed. The ad had an intense magnifying glass attached to an iPhone, showing an enlarged photo of the model’s pores. An app that quantifies my obsession with skin care? *Smashes Add To Cart button at 300 miles per hour.*


How it works

Upon further investigation, I found out that the attachment is a special camera that magnifies your pores 30X. It has eight LED lights to help get a medical-grade photo of your pores, and a moisture sensor at the outer ring of the attachment. Neutrogena gave me a sample of the Skin360 so I could see if my existing skin care routine was doing its job.

The app directs you to scan four different areas of your face: forehead, outer corner of your eyes, cheek, and chin. Its interface is user-friendly, but the camera is pretty sensitive. You have to make sure to apply just the right amount of pressure on the skin so that the attachment can scan it properly. The attachment also has to be completely flush against your phone’s camera, which means you have to take your case off.


While the few minor inconveniences slowed me down, I was eager to get pictures of my grubby little pores. As a double Leo, I already spend a ton of time staring at myself in the mirror, but I couldn’t wait to access this next level of self-obsession. I just had to see my skin up close.

Once the photos are taken, the app analyzes the images for pore size and lines, then combines that analysis with the moisture reading to give a composite Skin360 score. The app then gives you recommended Neutrogena products to try to solve the problems your skin is facing. It also reminds you to scan your skin weekly so that you can track your progress over time.

Week 1


I was so excited to try the scanner when I first got it that I actually tried to use this with my makeup on. I generally only use tinted moisturizer, so I felt pretty confident that the amount of makeup I had on was sheer enough that it wouldn’t skew my results too badly. Because makeup gets all up in your pores and crevices, I assumed I would get a lower score.

My first Skin360 score is 85, which is shockingly good. I beamed with pride knowing that my devotion to skin care had paid off. According to the app, my fine lines “appear minimal,” but I was still given recommendations to prevent early signs of aging. How thoughtful!

Week 2


This particular week was hectic with social commitments and work obligations. I also ate a ton of greasy food because I tend to eat poorly when I’m stressed. The night before I was due for my weekly scan, I came home at 3 a.m. and skipped a few steps in my routine so that I could zombie-plop onto my bed. When I woke up that morning, I had a That’s So Raven vision that my Skin360 score would be terrible, so I tried my best to moisturize and hydrate throughout the day.

Having this app is like having a skin care accountability partner, and I really appreciated that.

My second score dipped, as expected, but not as dramatically as I thought it would. The 19-point drop in my Moisture score reminded me how important it is to keep up with my nightly oil and sleep mask combination because my skin is naturally very dry.

Week 3


Spring had sprung after a moody winter in Brooklyn, so I was dying to be outside. In an attempt to soak up all the vitamin D I could get, I chose to work in a nearby cafe with great lighting for two days, even though I forgot to put on sunscreen. I know this is a major skin care no-no, but sitting in direct sunlight brings me so much joy. For exercise and for the sake of my general happiness, I also went for really long walks at the end of my workday, exposing my skin to the polluted New York breeze.


In an effort to counteract the dryness from spending an unusual amount of time outdoors, I decided to use one of the recommended products from the app: Neutrogena’s Hydroboost Hydrogel sheet mask. I can’t believe this mask is only a couple of bucks, because it feels like a teenaged version of those very adult (read: very expensive) silicone mask kits. It has a sleek, cool texture that soothes irritation and redness while moisturizing the skin deeply.

The following morning, after showing and letting my skin fully absorb the ingredients of the Hydrogel mask, I was looking like a delicious Krispy Kreme glazed donut—extra dewy because of the mask’s effects—but my Skin360 score dipped dramatically.

I know from multiple YouTube skin care gurus that I follow that sun damage is terrible, but I had no idea it could cause this much damage to pores and elasticity. The sun is a perilous aging force, and the Skin360 app showed me just how much damage it can do. That 32-point drop in pore visibility had me emotional, good lordt. *Immediately straps emergency sunscreen into every bag I own.* I will NEVER be unprotected against the sun’s rays ever again!


Final thoughts

I recognize that as someone who isn’t a routine person, my results are all over the map. I scanned my skin at different points of the day, with different amounts of product on it, and I can’t be the only one out there who uses the app like this. But I think consistency in the timing of the scan would have made my results clearer.

The skin care advice given by the app is, to be honest, pretty generic. Like a Co—Star astrology reading, I already knew most of the issues I was going to face before scanning my skin, but I appreciated the app’s extra affirmation. I wanted the app to point out all my problems, while still giving me praise for what I was doing right, and it did just that. I love the idea of using the app as an accountability buddy and as a way to measure the effects of caring or not caring for your skin. The sunscreen/pore-size revelation scared me shitless, and I will now forever be a disciple of that protective juice.

That being said, I know that my skin is probably in better shape than some who are using the app for improvement from scarring or soothing painful acne, so I’m curious to see what fellow skin care enthusiasts are told to do to their skin. I loved that the product recommendations were easily accessible—you could run to your nearest convenience store and grab the product you were looking for since Neutrogena is easily accessible and affordable.

At the end of the day, even though you think you know the best way to take care of your skin, Neutrogena’s Skin360 app reminded me that everyone could use a little bit more discipline and a lot more sunscreen.