Methodology: How Does the WIMJ Algorithm Work?

Summary: The WIMJ algorithm evaluates each product on two criteria: effectiveness and irritancy potential. On the one hand, effectiveness tells you if a product can deliver its promises. The closer the score to 100, the better the product is in terms of ingredients and the overall quality of its formula. WIMJ algorithm also evaluates the likelihood that a product will irritate your skin. It does this based on the clinical and research data available, and tells you if a product has a low (green sign), medium (yellow), or high (red) irritancy risk.

Long version: WIMJ algorithm evaluates each product on two sides.

1. Effectiveness: How likely is the product to deliver on its promise?

WIMJ rates effectiveness on a 100 point scale, from 1 (the lowest) to 100 (the highest). The closer the effectiveness score of a product is to 100, the more effective the product is.

This is how you can interpret the WIMJ effectiveness score:

How does the algorithm calculates the effectiveness score?

To evaluate effectiveness, the algorithm decodes products’ marketing description into a claim of a tangible skin benefit. For example, it decodes the marketing speak of “quenching skin’s thirst” as a simple promise of moisturization. Some marketing claims like “energizing your skin”, “detoxing your pores” are ignored because these types of claims are completely made up by brands’ marketing departments and our skin’s biology simply does not align with them.

For each product promise, the algorithm scans the product ingredient list in search of substances that can help fulfill this promise. For example, if a product claims to hydrate your skin, the algorithm will be looking for moisturizing ingredients. Each ingredient is then also evaluated based on the scientific evidence available to support its efficacy

WIMJ algorithm takes into account the quality of scientific evidence. For example, a product with an ingredient that has been shown to work in multiple human double-blind controlled studies will be rated higher than a product with an ingredient that has only been shown to have a positive impact in a lab, on cells in a petri dish.

In addition to assessing each individual ingredient against the product’s marketing promise, the WIMJ algorithm evaluates the product formula as a whole. For example, a good moisturizer needs to include a combination of actives with different functions (for example, ingredients that bind water or help repair the skin barrier). The algorithm takes this into account rating the products with better overall formulas higher.

Ingredient concentration in the product formula is another important factor that the algorithm takes into account. To be effective, the product needs to include a certain amount of the active ingredients. WIMJ flags ingredients in products that do not meet this effectiveness threshold.

Finally, the WIMJ algorithm rates products that are formulated to minimize skin irritation risk higher than irritating products with the same benefits. The reason for this is that even a low level of inflammation caused by irritants worsens skin’s overall health and is bad for any skin concern (aging, blemishes, tone, texture). This is why products with a relatively lower irritation potential are simply more likely to bring your skin better results, even if your skin is not particularly sensitive.

Please keep in mind that while our algorithm weighs all these factors, it is still not perfect. The WIMJ team is constantly working on making it smarter, but it can have blind spots and errors. And of course, everyone is different and can react differently to different products. In addition, our understanding of human skin and its health, while has never been more advanced, is still full of gaps and unknowns. This means that scientists are still unaware of many factors that impact the state of our skin ( for example, one of such factors is the variations in the composition of skin microbiome. Scientists know it is important, but they don’t have a clue yet on what microbiome composition would benefit a particular person). In turn, our algorithm will have these blind spots as well. In a nutshell, think about the WIMJ algorithm as a tool to estimate your chances of success with a certain product rather than giving you a guarantee on whether it will work for you in your specific circumstances or not.

2. Irritancy: How likely is the product to irritate your skin?

The WIMJ algorithm checks the data on skin irritation potential for ingredients in product formula. It takes into account the typical concentrations used. When collecting the data on irritancy potential, WIMJ relies on ingredients safety assessment conducted by reputable bodies like scientific committees of the European Union (the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety in particular) and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review in the US. In addition, the algorithm takes into account clinical data, for example, cases of dermal irritation reported in dermatology publications.

If WIMJ algorithm flags a product with a medium or high skin irritation risk, it does not mean that the product will certainly cause you a problem. Rather, it suggests that the chance of irritation is higher for this product compared to the low irritancy ones. By the same token, a product with low irritation risk can still cause a reaction, especially if you have a rare sensitivity or developed an allergy to a particular ingredient. It is always best to patch test new products before using them, and consult a practicing medical dermatologist if you are prone to severe skin reactions.

We are also providing an overview of the estimated irritancy risk for each ingredient in a product. Please keep in mind that combination of ingredients can lead to higher irritation potential, and our algorithm currently does not capture this. If an ingredient is flagged as "high" irritancy risk, it does not mean that it will certainly cause an irritant reaction, but that we estimate a chance of it to be considerable, especially for people with sensitive, reactive or sensitised skin. In the same way, if an ingredient is marked with "low" irritancy risk, it still might cause a skin reaction - we estimate the chance of it to be less likely though.

Please also keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that a product does not contain an ingredient if it is not listed in the product formula breakdown on our website. We take the information about product ingredient ingredient lists from publicly available sources (skincare manufacturers' websites and online retailers mostly), and there can be errors in the lists, or changes in the formulation that our website does not reflect. We recommend to double check the accuracy of the ingredient lists with the product manufacturer, especially if you suffer from allergic reactions.