The perception that the beauty industry, with its vast and diverse landscape, should drum to a single beat has no doubt hindered its acceptance on the global stage. In reality, the newcomers on the scene have exploded by developing and showcasing a youthful new generation that their products are the next focal point in terms of product offerings. In short, the market has been isolated for so long that it has developed its own culture. Nevertheless, the industry is experiencing a rapid transitioning of fresh specialized product offerings to take on the current consumer needs.
To my point, nowadays, the beauty industry is searching for ways to expand and modify. In the age of individualism, forthright brands aim to formulate product to better serve the special skin needs of each and every consumer.
In exploring how ‘beauty meets technology’, companies from all over the world have developed creative and exciting methods by incorporating technology; from apps that can identify a user’s specific acne lesion type— by analyzing selfies to another (another…what?), to another that can help customers choose the right hair color by scanning a QR code or using an NFC chip (Near Field Communication, so that a consumer can point-at or scan a code to receive pertinent information— sent directly to their device).
Ming Zhao, co-founder, and CEO of PROVEN Skincare, on the other hand, has a first-to-market and truly unique take on the personalization of skincare. Dubbing it “the most well-researched skin care on earth”, this laser-focused brand revolutionizes the use of technology, utilizing the largest, award-winning database in the beauty industry, known as The Skin Genome Project. PROVEN uses this proprietary information to address and meet consumer needs. The brand meets these individual needs by creating skincare products that are specifically formulated to an individual’s specific skin type, issues and needs.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Ming Zhao about her inspiration to launch an advanced beauty brand, the benefits of a consumer using a skincare product that combines AI, big data, and personalization and how she became an entrepreneur by launching the technically advanced brand PROVEN!
Joseph DeAcetis: How did you and your co-founder, Amy Yuan get inspired to start PROVEN?
Ming Zhao: When I was in my twenties, I had a high-powered finance job. I had a substantial paycheck, however, I was working 14 hour days in a very unhealthy, high-stress environment, where the industry’s culture encouraged hyper-competitiveness and whatever it takes to win,” says Ming.
One day, after studying my reflection in the mirror, I realized my skin was so tired-looking; sunken, dull and starting to wrinkle. I felt I looked so much older than my actual age and completely panicked. This job was robbing me of my soul and my youth, which was even more upsetting.
So I did what many women do,” She added. “I ran to a department store and started buying various types of expensive skincare products. Often, the representative at the counter would say, “oh, this product will do miracles for your skin,” And, while I was still at the counter, another customer, with, completely different skin and issues, would be told the same thing.” Zhao explained.
At the time, I believed the hype. I tried every expensive skincare product I purchased, but none seemed to be good for my skin. It left me so frustrated, and I felt doubly betrayed by the skincare industry.
It wasn’t until I went to a specialist who examined my skin, including its needs, as well as my lifestyle and environment, before producing personalized products for me— and I was surprised, because I really did see a difference in my skin. I wanted to bring that level of experience and results to everyone, at an approachable price!
It was no wonder that the one-size-fits-all products that are the current status quo in the skincare industry don’t work for anyone, because we all have different skin!” She exclaimed. “We’ve always been told, and it’s now an industry presumption, that there are 4 skin types- dry, oily, sensitive, and normal. Well, our database shows that there are 20,000 different skin profiles! These profiles are all based on an individual’s gene expression, environment, lifestyle, and skin concerns.
I knew I had to do something to improve the overall skincare customer experience.
I partnered with my genius friend and colleague Amy, a computational physicist from Stanford. She had similar frustrations with skincare products, and together we created the largest database in beauty to understand how ingredients affect different individuals. Together, we founded PROVEN.
We then partnered with the head of Dermatology from Stanford University (now the Head of Dermatologic Surgery at the University of Texas at Austin), Dr. Tyler Hollmig, who reached out to us because he believed that what we’re doing is the future of skincare! And, with him, we created PROVEN, which is personalized skincare, based on more than 47 factors about an individual, including their gene expression, environment, and lifestyle, says Zhao.
All products are made in the USA. They’re clean, non-toxic, and cruelty-free,” Zhao added.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are the benefits of a consumer using a skincare product that combines AI, big data, and personalization?
Ming Zhao: At PROVEN Skincare, we aren’t just bottling one product to fool the masses. We are utilizing science, technology, and hundreds of ingredient combinations to provide specific skincare that actually works for YOU!
Have you ever thought about the fact that living in the mountains may mean you are showering in harder water than someone living near the beach— or that living in a cold climate and using a heater can deeply impact your skin? Details like these can have a considerable effect on ingredients and their ability to be as effective as possible.
Everyone knows that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, and our body’s largest organ, the skin, deserves so much better. It’s about time we re-imagined the concept of skincare.”
PROVEN today offers the most personalized and effective skincare for your specific skin type, issues and needs.. Not just because the marketing lingo says so— it’s because scientific research confirms it. However, what really makes PROVEN work, is the accessibility component. Although the science behind the brand is intricate and complex, the output is simple. Instead of bombarding users with a nine-step routine, PROVEN delivers an easy, three-category skincare collection. And, we follow the same intuitive approach to the formulas themselves.
The process for consumers is very easy— It is so simple to get PROVEN. Just go to our website, and take our Skin Genome Quiz, a complementary, 3-minute online (and confidential) quiz, which simulates a conversation that you would have with our aesthetic dermatologist, as if he were speaking with you.
From there, analyze the results and can pinpoint what are the most effective ingredients to formulate products for you. In approximately 1 week, your personalized skincare system is delivered to your home.
Joseph DeAcetis: PROVEN made its ‘Shark Tank’ debut. How has the response been from fans?
Ming Zhao: We were the first skincare company to be featured on the show in 5 years! They usually don’t feature skincare brands, however, the team felt we were doing something truly special and innovative in the industry, so they were willing to make an exception.
And the response has been overwhelming. The wonderful thing about our products is that a majority of our clients have discovered it via word-of-mouth, product testimonials or reading the rave reviews. So, being on Shark Tank helped to widen brand awareness for PROVEN and further added to our credibility.
Joseph DeAcetis: What are some of the challenges and rewards of owning your own skincare business?
Ming Zhao: My startup PROVEN is the same age as my daughter, because I was pregnant when we began the company.
It has been a crazy and fulfilling ride to give birth to 2 babies at once— a startup baby and my actual baby. Even though people warned me how difficult both being a mother and being an entrepreneur of a startup,, I’ve found that there are some surprising synergies to doing both at once. In fact, my daughter is my secret weapon because even though some days are bleak, or feel hopeless, or tedious, I always have my daughter’s smiling face and laughter at the end of the day, and that makes everything ok.
Joseph DeAcetis: What advice would you give to women out there looking to get into launching their own beauty brand?
Ming Zhao: I’d say just go for it! Why wouldn’t you? You never know what could come out of it and you may get to build the company of your dreams, help people, and encourage change in a very competitive industry!
The use of artificial intelligence in the beauty industry still has a long way to go, in both educating the masses about its efficacy and improving its performance. It needs to be fine-tuned, by creatively using other methods to acquire more curated and effective research to cater to individual skincare needs.
PROVEN, took a huge, unprecedented first step towards a radical change, embracing a new era where technology and beauty coincide. However, the specialists won’t stop getting involved in research to further advance this methodology, albeit being the first of its kind. We have the confidence that this technology is headed in the right direction to continuously benefit and be an eye-opening experience for both the individual and the beauty industry as a whole.