Skincare is by no means one-size-fits-all. How could it be? We're all different in so many ways (geography, genetic makeup, lifestyle choices, etc.), and bio-individuality is just as real regarding our skin as it is to our bodies. One product or ingredient could never work for everyone. That concept was the impetus that led CEO and cofounder of Proven Ming Zhao to change the game. "I was working 14-hour days at a grueling private finance equity job in Hong Kong, a job that was sucking the soul straight out of my body, and you could see it on my skin," Zhao recalls. "Fine lines; premature wrinkles; a dull, lifeless texture; adult-acne breakouts. You name it; I had it. So I did what any sensible person would do: I panicked," she said. From there, Zhao decided to spend her time and money purchasing every miracle fix and overnight solution she could find, but nothing worked.
She then decided to check in with an exclusive skin specialist who introduced the idea of customized products, which ultimately changed everything for her. "My eureka moment was understanding that only when personal, relevant factors are considered (genetics, lifestyle, location, stress levels) can a product truly work for you," she says. "I saw this as a way to make the future of skincare a reality. And it can be done in an approachable way." As it turns out, her cofounder, Amy Zaoshi Yuan, has a similar story. Yuan was a world-record-breaking computational physicist when she was diagnosed with a rare skin condition. That was when she was inspired to build a personal database to identify which ingredients provided positive results versus negative ones. "Proven is the culmination of both our insights and approaches to hacking beauty," says Zhao.
Founded: Ming Zhao, 2017
Based In: San Francisco
Best Known For: Personalized skincare based on science
Most Popular Product: Proven kit
Fun Fact: Proven was featured on Shark Tank as one of the first skincare brands on the show.
Other Brands You'll Love: Function of Beauty
So Proven was born. It's a line of skincare products that utilize technology and science to offer a personalized skin assessment through a quiz on its website. The sequence of questioning is meant to create an experience similar to sitting down in front of a dermatologist. Afterward, it offers a customized skincare solution that reflects your skin type, skin goals, lifestyle, ethnicity, and climate. Each product is based on the Beauty Genome Project, a beauty knowledge database in which formulations are driven by millions of data points with specific skin types.
The brand uses ingredients based on your assessment to create a simple three-step, all-natural, nontoxic routine. "Many people are currently underserved by the beauty industry," notes Zhao. "If you're a minority or male or don't live in a major metropolitan area, the industry doesn't make you a priority." She explains with Proven that you get different products if you're Asian, pregnant, and living in New York City. Your skin gets other treatment than if you're Black, male, live in Seattle, and had a stressful month at work.
The difference is threefold. First, the data and technology. "Cutting-edge data analysis, artificial intelligence, and advanced algorithms—we're using those and applying to them beauty," says Zhao. Using that knowledge base, the company has collaborated with dermatologists at Stanford University to best customize the experience. "The products created are tailored to you and made based on specifics about you, your genetic background, skin type, plus the level of pollution and the hardness of the water in the city where you live," says Zhao. "So we provide you with just what you need and nothing that you don't— selected from a library of 89 active ingredients." Then, there's the evolution process, as Proven has created regimens that evolve based on seasonal changes, people's lives changing, a move, having a baby, a change in how someone shaves their facial hair, or if they have an extremely stressful month at work. That way, the products can seemingly satisfy your life needs.
I asked one last question of Zhao, one I think is often neglected in all the excitement of a new, innovative way of caring for your skin. For a real beauty devotee, someone who has tried it all and has found skincare they love and formulas that already work for them, what would motivate them to switch to these products? "The beauty industry hasn't changed much in the past 50 years," Zhao offered quickly. She said statistics show 55 percent of post-purchase experience in beauty is negative.
"Part of why people become so knowledgeable and obsessed about beauty is because it takes so much time and research to find the right products for their skin concerns," Zhao says. "Proven exists so there no longer has to be that battle between the lovers of beauty and the products themselves. We're here to simplify and improve the beauty experience." And with that, I was sold. I filled out the assessment and can't wait to try my new bespoke products. It's fun. Why not try it out for yourself?