In 2020, customised skincare products and services really hit their stride. This is the kind of stuff you won’t find at Priceline or David Jones – instead, a team of experts (such as dermatologists, scientists, pharmacists and nurses) will assess your skin, listen to your concerns and specially mix products to address particular issues and give you the results you want. No hyperbole, no celebrity endorsement – just highly effective products, tailored to you.

There are a range of these services available in Australia and overseas, but here’s how it usually works: you fill out a form detailing your skin concerns and your current skincare routine, then supply highly-unflattering-yet-informative photos of yourself sans make-up to show what’s really going on. This information is then submitted to the company, followed by a telehealth consult. The experts then compound the ideal products for you and mail them out with detailed instructions on how to use them (and the team is available to answer questions online, should you have any).

Scientist and former registered nurse Doctor Michele Squire is the founder of Qr8 MediSkin, a new Australian company that provides this service. “I created Qr8 MediSkin to allow consumers to easily access experienced medical professionals [and] receive an accurate diagnosis and evidence-based topical treatments tailored to their individual concerns,” she says. “I wanted to take the guesswork out of treating cosmetic skin conditions and make it convenient, whilst remaining as safe and robust as a face-to-face consultation.”

Her aim is to change how people approach skincare: rather than opting for professional advice only after over-the-counter products have failed, she wants people to seek effective, tailored treatments as their first port of call. In addition to a questionnaire and photo assessment, Qr8 also includes 3D imaging and telehealth appointments so your skin is diagnosed accurately. Its multidisciplinary team of doctors, scientists and pharmacists can prescribe products for a wide range of conditions – from acne to pigmentation to rosacea – and some solutions can also target multiple issues at once. “What Qr8 MediSkin offers is true prescription skincare using ingredients that can only be obtained on a doctor’s prescription,” says Squire.

Niamh Mooney created Software after struggling with acne and hyperpigmentation for years. Her sister is a dermatologist, so she saw first-hand just how valuable professional medical advice could be. After experiencing effective dermatology telehealth consults in London, where she was living, she decided to bring the model to Australia, where it could reach people living in cities and remote areas (Mooney grew up in Warrnambool, and as a teen noted the dearth of healthcare services in regional areas).

Software’s team includes consultant dermatologist Doctor Ryan de Cruz; pharmacist Doctor Matt Vickers, who has additional training in skin; and Tamer Hanna, an expert chemist and formulator with extensive experience compounding for dermatologists. “Software doctors can prescribe a variety of prescription-grade ingredients, including tretinoin, azelaic acid, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, as well as antibiotics for inflamed acne,” says Mooney. “We treat acne, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, dull skin and enlarged pores. Our treatments are more powerful and effective than over-the-counter products when it comes to dealing with things like acne, pigmentation or wrinkles.”

Mooney’s aim is to increase accessibility and make quality, results-based skincare available to all Australians, no matter their geographical location. Like Squire, she focuses on ingredients that are backed by science – that is, clinical evidence and trials that demonstrate their efficacy.

So, how do these companies ensure their “patients” are taking their tailor-made products as prescribed? Again, we can thank the internet for that. “Our telehealth consults involve the patient ... with doctors spending time to explain why they have chosen a particular treatment, and answering any questions about their tailored treatment cream,” explains Squire. “Patients are part of the process and feel supported throughout the entire journey.”

At Qr8 MediSkin this includes follow-up support for the duration of your product and treatment, and a quarterly medical progress review is included in the initial cost. Software’s consultation fees are $29 per session, and treatment costs $88 for a two-month supply (which is renewed on a subscription basis). Qr8 Mediskin works on an all-inclusive model – prices vary from $130 to $220 depending on the prescription. There’s no charge if the team decides you don’t need prescription skincare after the consult.

With this kind of access to personalised advice and products, prescription skincare isn’t just disrupting the market – it has the potential to smash right through it, leaving a trail of excellent skin in its wake.