Startup applies artificial intelligence to customize skincare products

Global Business

Startup applies artificial intelligence to customize skincare products

Having worked in the beauty industry for decades, Michelle Zaffino has tested hundreds of products, but none quite like these from the company, Proven.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.

While they use only natural ingredients, everything from sea algae to watermelon extract, the real attraction is the artificial Intelligence-driven formula.

“It gave me formulations that were tailored exactly for my skin type which is combination skin,” said Zaffino. “I feel like my skin is more moisturized and I’ve noticed in the eye area that my eyes look a little perkier. It’s cutting edge skin care, I feel like it’s the wave of the future to be more personalized.”

In an industry dominated by big corporations, Proven is a several person startup that is aiming for the stars.

Due to their uniqueness, Proven recently earned a spot inside the gift bags that went to 2018 Academy Award nominees.

“This one is for Margot Robbie, who is nominated for best actress in ‘I, Tonya,’” Co-founder & CEO of Proven, Ming Zhao said. ”We know that she travels frequently to her hometown in Australia as well as for movies. So we included a base of ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help recover from all her travel. This bag we made for Meryl. We’ve included a lot more peptides that help with anti-aging to help maintain the skin barrier and elasticity of her skin.”

What they are doing for Academy Award nominees is exactly what Proven wants to do for all customers: take into account climate, age, ethnicity, skin type and much more.

Co-founder and computational physicist Amy Yuan created an AI program that sorts through the millions of skin care product customer reviews and scientific journals to incorporate findings into their formulas.

The idea stemmed from the duo’s own skin problems and the frustration of having to sift through hundreds of reviews to find ones related to them.

“I came from a data science background. Why don’t I write a robot to crawl reviews for me?” Yuan asked herself. “We would crawl more and more data from the sources on the internet and we decided to start this journey to match the best ingredients and products for all women in the world.”

As a part of the journey, the founders created what they said is the largest database on beauty in the world, the Beauty Genome Project, information from 8 million product reviews.

The Proven founders often test their concoctions on their mothers and aunts, who have given the products their seal of approval.
Family is big part of the Proven story in more ways than one. Both Ming and Amy got pregnant just months after launching their startup.

The founders even had to delay their entry into Silicon Valley’s prestigious Y Combinator accelerator program out of concern pitching to investors while pregnant would work against them.

The founders said they wouldn’t have chosen to do it any other way, experiencing the hardships and joy of delivering several babies together and their startup.

Ming Zhao and Amy Yuan discuss their company, Proven

The founders of Proven were both born in China, Ming from Shenyang and Amy from Beijing. CGTN’s Mark Niu sat down with the founders and began by asking them how they see their company transforming the skin care market.