Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007


Scan Z And The Brave New World Of Tracking Your Acne Breakouts

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

For better or worse, smartphone apps have become a part of our daily lives. It was an inevitability that someone would create an acne app. Do you want to scan your face and get a data-driven estimate on how long a pimple is going to last? Well now there is now an app for that. And no, it has nothing to do with anything like Proactiv.

The makers of Scan Z describe their scanner and app duo as being a helpful data driven tracking system. A system that will assist consumers in understanding their skin better and assist them in preventing breakouts. While some may balk at the idea of a smartphone app being a genuinely useful tool in the fight against acne, others would argue that this is a clever way to take advantage of the iPhone’s computing power.

Mobile App for Acne Tracking
Can an app help you figure out your skin?

Everyone’s skin is unique and understanding your skin better is often the first step in combating your acne problem. The Scan Z app and accompanying device go as far as to read and interpret the sebum levels on your face. This helps you predict when a breakout may be coming. The app also includes a dietary tracking element, which helps consumers better understand the correlation between the food they eat and their complexion.

Better Understanding Of Your Skin – Not A Miracle Worker

Executives at Scan Z are quick to caution that this is primarily an acne tracker. It is a way to obtain helpful data and correlations to better understand how your skin works. When questioned about the impact of Scan Z, they attempt to temper any unrealistic expectations. An app cannot possibly cure your acne. Scan Z is no doubt measured in their tone, because The US Federal Trade Commission has in the past come down very harshly on apps making over-the-top claims about acne. In fact, two cases were filed against app makers Acne Pwner and AcneApp regarding exaggerated claims.

Scan Z works as a two-piece combination with a scanning device that attaches to your phone and the app itself. To use it, you run this device over your skin. When you are done scanning, the device sends transdermal images of the surface of your skin to your phone. It is as simple as that.

According to Chief Science Officer Djuro Koruga, the app uses Mayo Clinic algorithms that can estimate an upcoming breakout or the estimated length of a current one. The more you use the Scan Z, the more precise the data will become. The algorithm is as sophisticated as the amount of information you feed it, and it tracks not only your diet and sebum levels but also your preferred facial cleanser. Over enough time, this creates your personal and unique beauty profile, building a chart of the inputs and outputs that lead to your breakouts.

Is It Worth It?

At $249 this device and app combo is quite an investment. Critics would point out that the skin care business has always had its share of products with questionable utility. Some might say that your money would be better spent consulting a dermatologist. Though supporters of the app point out that it is not an either/or proposition… understanding your skin better can only be helpful in the long term.

It is worth noting that there are a great many apps that are seen as useless to most people. But for people who suffer with problem skin, there’s no doubt that there is utility in tracking your skin. If you enjoy the kind of personalization that comes from being able to track your own skin at home, then Scan Z may be for you.

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