Each and every person is unique, just like a snowflake. And that means every person’s skin is uniquely different from one another. What works for one person, might trigger an outbreak for another, and vice versa. PROVEN Skincare, a brand that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to create custom, individualized skincare, offers consumers a rarity in the beauty industry — effective ingredients formulated with scientific expertise.
Founder Ming Zhao grew up being told she had “difficult” skin, and was always on the hunt for improved skincare. The effort to keep up with finding the right products for her skin was frustrating, pricey and frankly, exhausting. She then met Dr. Amy Yuan, who became her co-founder at PROVEN, and together they developed The Skin Genome Project, the world’s largest skincare database. Using all of the data collected through the database, the pair’s skincare line is able to create customized formulas unique to each individual’s personal skin and needs.
BELLA had a chat with Zhao about the extensive database, their formulas, who can benefit from their products, and the future of beauty and AI.
Tell us a bit about the Skin Genome Project. How does your skincare quiz sift through all that data to come up with formulas?
The Skin Genome Project, winner of MIT’s 2018 Artificial Intelligence Award, is the most comprehensive skincare database ever created. The Skin Genome Project can analyze the effectiveness of over 20,238 skincare ingredients, over 8 million testimonials from real people, over 4,000 scientific publications, data based on where you live, and information about more than 100k individual skincare products. Using customers’ answers to our Skin Genome Quiz, the database instantly selects the best ingredients for their skin.
The Skin Genome Project leverages artificial intelligence to create personalized recommendations, and has transformed the entire skincare industry by creating a futuristic way of collecting and examining data on how skin care products work for individuals. This database has eliminated the guessing and trial-and-error game of skincare product purchases, routines and results. We have provided millions with access to effective, personalized skin care routines. Our skin genome quiz is similar to how customers would receive an introductory consultation with a dermatologist and utilizes AI to compare the individual’s needs with our proven database of product and ingredient suggestions.
What are the most common skin concerns people have these days?
Acne and Wrinkles are the most common concerns.
Is there any skin type that responds the best to your formulas, or skin types that take a longer time to show results?
PROVEN addresses the multifaceted needs of people across the US and Canada and we see high repeat purchases among people with many different skin concerns. We see a lot of loyalty from customers that have multiple needs, such as acne AND hyperpigmentation reduction or anti-aging AND oil balancing.
Do customers typically keep with their original formulas or change them over time?
As our environment, lifestyle, and diet change, our skin changes alongside it. A product that works for a consumer in the summer may need to be adjusted for the change in environment that winter brings. That’s why we encourage our customers to retake the Skin Genome Quiz every couple of months as their lives grow and evolve, and the quiz helps to ensure the next products they receive are tailored to their needs. Even if they don’t take the quiz, telling us about lifestyle changes such as moving or for our female customers, becoming pregnant, we can adjust their formulas based on our data which is known to drive results.
How long does it typically take to see results?
It usually takes one skin cell turnover cycle to see results. This can range from 28-60 days depending on the individual. Speed is most closely correlated to age (our cell renewal slows down as we grow older).
In your experience, do people have a good grasp on their own unique skin type, or do you find that throughout trial and error with the quiz and products, they begin to learn more about their own skin?
PROVEN started off as a personal mission. Long hours in my finance career wreaked havoc on my skin. As someone who had been told she had “difficult” skin, I was constantly searching for better skincare. But finding the right products was time-consuming, frustrating, and expensive. And worst of all, nothing worked consistently. I only saw real results when I met a dermatologist who created a custom formula for my skin. I knew more people deserved to experience that.
Then I met my co-founder Dr. Amy Yuan. With her scientific expertise, this shared passion became the world’s largest skincare database: The Skin Genome Project. It allows us to create custom formulas using AI for individual skin.
We believe segmenting people into a few skin types is an oversimplification imposed by mass skincare brands. People know their own skin better than anyone else. What many don’t know, however, is that there are many factors that contribute to skin health such as climate, lifestyle, age, and heritage. We believe people will get the best results when all of these factors are addressed. We hope the Skin Genome Quiz and its associated data will help demystify the process for our consumers.
One of the things I liked that your quiz incorporated is lifestyle. It not only takes into account your local environment, but also how often you travel, etc. Why are these things important for individualized skincare?
When we travel, our skin goes through changes and can be damaged by air quality, dryness; our diets can be worse when we travel, and more. The pH and hardness of the water you wash your skin with can also make an impact. That’s why we encourage consumers to retake the Skin Genome Quiz and input the zip codes they will be living in and traveling to, so we can use our database to recommend products to combat these lifestyle changes.
How many different formulations do you have?
Our machine learning is constantly helping us improve our formulas and add to our repertoire so it’s hard to give a precise number. We sell thousands of permutations of skincare systems and each one is highly personalized to an individual’s skin needs, and are ever-changing as seasons and lifestyles change as well.
Do you think AI is the future of skincare?
When PROVEN’s Co-Founder Amy Yuan built the Skin Genome Project, she leveraged AI to identify the ingredients and formulations that would work best for her skin type, based on all available journals, reviews, and customer testimonials available online. Without AI, she would not have been able to sift through the data herself, which makes AI a valuable tool for researching, compiling, and predicting a customer’s needs. Many companies focus on publicly available data that includes customer testimonials, user data, product ingredients, journals, papers, environmental data, seasonality effects, and much more. At the same time, internal data helps identify patterns and preferences that can be compared against the public data. This combination of the two helps produce customized results that continue to help propel the eCommerce customization boom in recent years.
We are proud of how our products have democratized the premium skincare industry. As a luxury brand that offers individualized products with a high level of personalization and results previously only available at a handful of expensive estheticians and dermatologists in a handful of metropolitan areas, PROVEN eliminates costly guesswork of product matching. We want to give people good skin for life, in a way that is accessible and results-driven. It is an especially valuable model for people underserved by the skincare industry such as ethnic minorities, men, and those in rural areas.
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