I tried Duolab and here’s what I thought

Basically the definition of ‘game-changer’.


I love anything with a monogram on it but Duolab is probably the closest thing I’ve seen to actual bespoke beauty in the wider culture of customisation.

Having already dipped my toe into beauty apps that collect data from my selfies, whether it’s to swipe on a new shade of lipstick or determine my skin type, I was intrigued.

Duolab goes a gazillion steps further.

Duolab Device, £250


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At first glance, the device looks like a cross between Alexa and an egg poacher. But Duolab is basically your bathroom’s very own skin laboratory as you use it to mix up two capsules of fresh skincare every morning and evening (that’s where the ‘duo’ bit comes in).

Duolab also challenges the notion of a fixed regime made up of the same products day in day out. So the contents of those capsules will change during the course of the month.

‘Your skin is a living organ impacted by everything from the weather to stress, hormones and fatigue,’ says Alain Harfouche, managing director of Duolab. ‘Its needs change so why would you treat it exactly the same way each day?’

First download the device

Before you get to the fun bit – ie. the mixing – you need to do the admin. I download the Duolab app on my iphone. According to the press release, two forms of AI will both pre-empt my skin’s needs and respond to its changing environment.

I upload a selfie and answer a set of straightforward questions on my skin priorities – in my case, flooding dry patches on the cheeks with moisture and soothing sensitivity around the chin area.

The app then reveals which ‘duo’ of capsules match my skin type and its current requirements.

Duolab has partnered with L'Occitane 

Duolab is launching with a collection of L’Occitane skincare capsules that contain 93%-98% natural ingredients.

There are three moisturising bases (light day cream, rich day cream and night cream). These can be mixed with one of five targeted concentrates: Brightening with vitamin C to tackle pigmentation (think your best vitamin c serums, but upgraded); Energising with horse chestnut to rev up circulation; Soothing with chamomile to take down redness; Refining with exfoliating AHAs and Firming with a Botox-like plant extract to relax facial muscles.

With 15 possible combinations, you’ve got every skin base covered.


My current duo prescription is the rich day cream combined with Soothing concentrate and the Firming Concentrate added to my night cream. I can either buy a top up of capsules on the go or have a set delivered to my door monthly through a subscription that costs £60 per month.

How to use the device

The mixing sadly doesn’t require lab coat and goggles. I simply click together my base and concentrate in a little disc, which then slots into the machine.

Using thermocosmetic technology Duolab blends the two formulas and heats them to the same temperature as your skin (37-42C). I take out the disc and squeeze the sides. My custom-blended formula squirts out of the nozzle.

Not only is there something deeply comforting about applying a slightly warm cream to your face but, in practical terms, it means your skin will drink up the emulsified formula more readily.

Oh and it only takes 90 seconds so it’s not a faff first thing in the morning.

An added bonus for my sensitive skin is there are no preservatives in the formulas. Zip. Nada. Not even hidden in individual ingredients. You see, the blending process is completed inside the packaging so the contents never come into contact with air until you apply them to your skin.

Plus it’s freshly mixed every time so there’s really no need for preservatives.

My skin’s microbiome is literally singing 'hallelujah'.

My verdict

Despite being plugged as 'on-demand skincare', I still believe that you need to play the long game when ingredients such as vitamin C are working on a cellular level.

My moisturising routine may not be the same every day but the effects of the capsules, along with my regular serum that I apply underneath, will still be cumulative. That said, the angry redness around my mouth subsided to a blush pink after just two days so some things are moving faster.

Another major selling point is Duolab's eco credentials. Each device comes with a separate ceramic jar to collect your empty capsules. When it’s full, simply send the empties back to Duolab in the pre-paid envelope that comes with your monthly skincare subscription and TerraCycle will recycle them.

Surely even the laziest recycler can get on board with that, right?

Proof that you really can look good and do good, too.

Got bitten by the bespoke beauty bug? Scroll down for some more options…

Clinique iD Dramatically Different Moisturizing BB-Gel + Active Cartridge Concentrate for Irritation, £36, John Lewis


The Moisturizing BB-Gel is your base, into which you slot your chosen skincare cartridge (choose from probiotics to soothe irritation, glycolic acid for enlarged pores and peptides to plump up lines). Bonus: you get 8-hour hydration and a sheer wash of colour that adapts to your skin tone.

The Moisturizing BB-Gel is your base into which you slot your chosen skincare cartridge (choose from probiotics to soothe irritation, glycolic acid for enlarged pores and peptides to plump up lines). Bonus: you get 8-hour hydration and a sheer wash of colour that adapts to your skin tone.

Function of Beauty Custom Shampoo + Conditioner, £29

A questionnaire asks everything from hair texture to scalp sensivity to prescribe just the right ingredients for your own customised shampoo and conditioner.


Buy it now

Lancome Le Teint Particulier Custom Foundation, £90

Customised in-store to perfectly match your skin tone, work with your skin type (dry, oily or combination) and give you the exact coverage you desire (full, medium or sheer).


Buy it now

It's time to play lab geek...

Fiona Embleton

Fiona Embleton has been a beauty editor for over 10 years, writing and editing beauty copy and testing over 10,000 products. She has previously worked for magazines like Marie Claire, Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography and catwalk trends.