There’s a never-ending list of skincare ingredients, each one promising to give you the look you’re after. But knowing what works for you, and cramming it all into your regimen is tricky, often requiring multiple products and steps. How do you figure out what you need?

A new prescription beauty platform is here to cut through all the noise. Software takes away the guesswork and develops single bespoke products, each of which is fully customised for a particular customer.

Founder Niamh Mooney grew up in the Victorian town of Warrnambool and got used to driving four hours into Melbourne to see a skin specialist for her acne. Later her sister became a dermatologist. Having someone to turn to for constant guidance was life-changing.

“I was really lucky as I went through my late teenage years and twenties, to have her as a source of truth and guidance as to how to help manage my skin,” she tells Broadsheet. Mooney also spent time working in London, where she had access to tele-dermatologists that could help formulate prescription-grade topical treatments online.

“I realised that Australia was best-suited for tele-health, because of our geography, and specifically tele-dermatology, because of the impact that the sun has for a lot of people in Australia,” she says.

So she brought the model back home with her. Software works similarly – it connects you with doctors and pharmacists specialising in skin health, who formulate a custom product designed specifically for your skin. And because it’s prescription-grade, it’s much stronger than what you’d find over the counter at the chemist or on a shelf at Mecca.

It starts with a questionnaire, where you’re asked about your skin goals, skin type, allergies, current skincare routine and medications. Then you have a more thorough doctor’s consultation, where they’ll take a closer look at your skin’s condition using photos.

From there, the specialist formulates a cream containing evidence-based active ingredients at different strengths, depending on your skin’s needs and condition. Once you approve the formula, a partner pharmacy takes the prescription, creates the final product, and ships it directly to you on an ongoing basis. The initial consultation and all follow-ups are all free. An ongoing Software subscription costs $88 every two months, for a two-month supply of your treatment. You can delay or cancel the subscription at any time.

“From the patient’s perspective, it’s a very convenient experience,” Mooney says. “What we’re finding with the feedback from our patients is this is really practical medication for a lot of them.”

Software mainly helps users tackle signs of aging – such as fine lines, wrinkles and dryness – and acne, as well as pigmentation from sun exposure and damage.

The main ingredients in Software’s prescription formulas are retinoids, which increase cell turnover and boost collagen production, and azelaic acid, known to eliminate bacteria and reduce inflammation associated with acne and breakouts. They’re supported by niacinamide, which strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier, and hyaluronic acid for gentle hydration. Some doctors may also prescribe oral antibiotics for severe acne.

“The ability to have a single bottle with all the relevant ingredients that are right for you – at the right strengths – and to have that topped up every eight weeks through our subscription service can prove really useful,” Mooney says.

But no single skincare product can do it all, which is why the brand has also introduced Software System, a range of over-the-counter products designed to help your treatment go further. They include a hydrating cleanser, a lightweight cream moisturiser, and a hydrating sunscreen with SPF50 formulation.

The team of doctors and skin specialists are also there for you every step of the way, so you can ask questions about your treatment, report back about any effects, or ask for more guidance in applying your product whenever you need it.

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