OKU Reviewed: Why This Little Cube Should Be Your Personal Skin Coach

Whether you are in your mid-twenties and dealing with hormonal breakouts, or in your forties worrying about dryness and the onset of wrinkles, skin is your largest and most likely least understood organ. OKU is a device that is supposed to look “beneath the surface of your skin and see what you
can’t see with the naked eye.”

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The idea behind OKU is that if you use it to scan and analyze your skin, when “combined with personal information on your diet, lifestyle and skincare product/s usage, the OKU will give you your Skin Score, which tells you how well your skin is faring and identifies areas for improvement. It then helps you set a daily goal to achieve better skin.”

OKU gives you the right lifestyle, diet and skincare product recommendations and advice on the right routine for your skin’s wellness. Much like a personal trainer, it helps you get your skin in the best shape it can be.

I’ve been using the OKU for about a month, and through near daily usage, I have found it to be a compelling tool for managing my skin’s health. Will OKU cure a hormonal breakout or stop crow’s-feet in their tracks? Of course not, but by filling out your profile and the products you are using on your skin, the OKU can help you decide what is or isn’t working for you, and it can offer suggestions for products that might work for you based on input from other people using the OKU who are in around your same age and skin type.

Included in the box are the OKU camera, a charger, and a ubiquitous microUSB cable.

The OKU itself is a small cube measuring approximately 1.5″ across and 2″ deep. Ideally, you should keep it in your bathroom so that you will remember to use it every morning (before washing your face) and every evening (after washing, before bed).

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Getting set up is a matter of installing the OKU app (it’s iOS only right now), creating an account, and following the instructions for connecting it to your phone via Bluetooth, your home network via Wi-Fi, and Apple Health Kit. OKU is set to read your Health Kit data, but even if you are entering your exercise through an app like RunKeeper, your diet through an app like MyFitnessPal, or your sleep data through an app like Withings, you’ll still have to manually answer some questions daily about your exercise levels, salt and sugar intake, stress levels, sleep and time in the sun.

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One of the last steps for setup is taking your first picture; there’s really no point to doing it with makeup on — it’s best to do it au naturel, so that you can see any imperfections and hopefully notice them clearing up or smoothing out over time.

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Once you’ve done that, it’s time for your first scan. The place to start is on your forehead; to do this you hold the OKU to your skin and wait for some lights to pulse and for the app to tell you to remove the device. Next, you scan your cheek. OKU uses visible light to take the pictures and do the skin analysis, there is no IR or UV light used.

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Next, you answer a series of questions designed to tell OKU about yourself and your day.

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Among the questions about your level of exercise and water intake (among others), you’ll enter any products that you are using in your skincare regime. OKU basically wants to know what you’ve put on your skin in the last 24 hours …

… and then it will give you your first skin score.

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Mine wasn’t too bad, but it definitely showed room for improvement.

Here’s where things get a little freaky — you get to SEE the photos and analysis that OKU has done on your skin!

These pictures are so close up that peach fuzz looks like big scary black hairs, and I’m not gonna lie — after seeing these pics I ran to a magnified mirror in a panic with a pair of tweezers looking for black hairs growing out of my cheek like whiskers! But no — they were just super-magnified images of my blonde peach fuzz! 😛

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OKU gives a super detailed report on your skin complete with analysis on your pigmentation, texture, oil and moisture levels. It turns out that my skin is pretty dry without a lot of moisture or oil, has great texture, little pigmentation (not much sun damage — which is pretty good for almost 49!), and it’s supple. Yay?

Over time, as you use the OKU, you get tips on how to improve your skin score. You also get daily skin score goals that you can fall short of, meet, or exceed.

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The good news is that more often than not, I am not exceeding my goals.

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Although I get regular feedback on my diet, water intake, sleep levels, and other daily details, the one thing that hasn’t yet happened is that OKU hasn’t yet given me any product recommendations. I don’t know if that is because my skin is “fine”, or if there aren’t that many almost-49-year-old women using the OKU for it to draw recommendations from. It appears that I have only two “skin twins” using OKU right now, and I seem to be doing better than them with my skin score. Heh.

As I mentioned, I’ve been using the OKU almost daily. I have noticed improvements with my skin, and I am most certainly more aware of what’s going on my face and how much time I spend in the sun. I DO with that the OKU took regular readings from places other than just the middle of my forehead and my right or left cheek. I have tried switching things up a bit by swapping cheeks or locations on my forehead, and I seem to get fairly consistent scores, but I think it would be good to get more recommendations based on “trouble spots” for women my age — places like the corner of my eyes or the laugh lines around my mouth — or even the skin on my neck. Perhaps in time, those measurements will be asked for and considered, as well.

The OKU is a great tool for understanding and responding to your skin’s needs; it’s not meant to replace regular facials or trips to the dermatologist, but it can help you in your daily beauty regimen.

The OKU retails for $249; it is available directly from the manufacturer.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Deep-skin analysis of what is going on with your skin, day by day; Suggestions for ways to improve your skin based on diet, exercise, water intake and sleep levels; Product suggestions when there is room for improvement

What Needs Improvement: iOS only right now, but Android is coming in late 2016; You really need to use this at least once a day, so you’ll need to form a new habit

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.