I've known about prescription skincare for several years, and in the last few it's been clear to me that using prescription products is the number one best way to streamline your skincare routine.
My holy grail, no-competition, all-time favourite ingredient for reducing and preventing wrinkles, improving skin texture and refining your complexion has got to be tretinoin (also known as retinoic acid), a form of vitamin A. You can get great results from a cosmetic retinol available from Mecca or Sephora, but the WOW results often come by incorporating this specific prescription ingredient into your routine.
The tricky part is getting a hold of a script and a skin assessment from a dermatologist (GPs can also prescribe this kind of thing) without waiting months for an appointment or paying exorbitant fees. So it's natural that the telehealth/virtual dermatologist & prescription skincare market has bloomed several international and local prescription skincare services that allow you to forgo all of that and get access to dermatologists who are highly experienced in this kind of cosmetic medicine and products.
I'd seen Software on Instagram for a few months, and recently they've had an offer on where you can have your online skin consultation for free, so I thought it was worth a shot. It's really very simple, you make an account, answer a few questions and upload some photos - it's your chance to explain any skin woes you might have, or just talk about what you'd like more of from your skincare. Whether it's signs of ageing, pigmentation, redness, hydration or skin texture, your assigned Software doctor will then recommend a product blend that will treat those skin issues, and you can either go ahead with the product purchase or leave it there.
Now, I was already a tretinoin user, so I knew I wanted this ingredient and my skin is already sufficiently "retinised" (there's a whole other post coming soon talking about the 'tret uglies'), as well asking for a little more hydration blended in.
Today, my custom skincare arrived in a neat little box and I am just too excited to use it tonight. I've got a blend of 0.05% tretinoin, 5% niacinamide and 1% hyaluronic acid (don't be fooled by the low percentage of tretinoin here, this is not the beginner's dose!). Software is also proudly cruelty-free and vegan, which isn't easy to claim with prescription skincare, and although I'm yet to test out my product, I'm already very impressed.
Of course, I'm a convert to these ingredients, and I know they work. For someone who has played around with a few actives in your skincare routine, do you need this? Yes and no. If you love all of your lotions and potions and feel like there is nothing underlying in your skin that needs addressing, you might not need to pull out the big guns.
These formulas are effective and will get to work straight away, so it's difficult to compare them with other beauty aisle options. The best part about a product that works for your skin and skin concerns is that you can ultimately lean up the rest of your routine to a gentle cleanser, sunscreen and maybe an additional moisturiser - prescription skincare does the legwork for your actives so there's less concern of "What's my routine missing?" If you're struggling with acne, fine lines, with redness, with lacklustre texture or larger pores - all of these things can absolutely be treated like any other health issue by a doctor.
I'll update with my thoughts on Software and this formulation once I've had time to work with the product - the team also gives you the chance to update your doctor with your thoughts, so if you'd like to adjust your formula at a later date, this is also possible.
The bottom line for me is that so many skincare brands (not all of them, but many), want to claim they can do what prescription skincare can, but they just plain can't. You can spend $1000s on cosmeceuticals and beautiful some packaging and end up with same-same skin or even irritation, when you'll get the real results from a dedicated formula that uses the gold-standard, data-backed ingredients that have been used and recommended by dermatologists for years.
There's also a level of accountability and guidance that you get when you have a doctor on side to guide you through the process, check in with any concerns and discuss how to get the best results from your product - it's the kind of mindful product use that will end up making you feel confident in the ingredient and less concerned with a 20-step routine when a 3-step works so well.
Software, and similar international brands like Dermatica and Curology, are changing the structure of dermatologist visits being exclusively a luxury or a "last resort" step, and connecting everyone with this kind of medical expert that will guide them to their best and happiest skin at all ages and all stages of their skin journey.