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The startup using AI to transform online cosmetics research


An Auckland-based beautytech startup is using artificial intelligence to help people find personalised cosmetics recommendations.

Since launching in March, the web-based app called Shook has had thousands of visitors through the site, which looks at factors such as skin type and concerns to match users to products based on real reviews.

Using conversational AI also means that no matter the users makeup knowledge, the platform is trained to understand and help guide them to the right products.

Co-founder and beauty expert Olivia Panzic came up with the idea for Shook after realising how difficult it was to research cosmetics online without the personalisation which comes from chatting to an in-store beauty expert.

“So many friends would try to find their perfect foundation online and then end up coming to me because the product they bought wasn’t working for them,” Panzic says. “They would hear about the ‘best foundation on the market’ but the problem is it’s designed for someone with oily skin, while they have dry skin.”

With co-founder and conversational AI designer Jonnie Cain, Shook was created using IBM’s Watson technology to replicate the in-store sales assistant experience.

The resulting platform can not only help people figure out their skin type and undertones, but will also consider aspects such as the situation in which they will be wearing the product so it knows whether the user will need certain factors, such as SPF protection.

“We’re really proud that Shook can also help people discover products that are cruelty free and have inclusive shade ranges,” Panzic says. “That way our users can be reassured and know that the products recommended to them will fit all of their criteria.”

Shook currently has the ability to match users to foundation, concealer, highlighter and mascara, with more products to come.

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