From finance to face cream: Proven Skincare co-founder discusses her pivot to personalized skincare


Proven Skincare uses data, science and artificial intelligence to create a personalized skin care regime. The high-tech company was co-founded by Ming Zhao, who also serves as the company CEO.

“I moved to the states when I was 12 years old not speaking a word of English,” explained Zhao.

She quickly learned English, aced her SAT’s, and ended up going to Harvard and working in finance.

“Fourteen-hour days, I was earning a big paycheck, but it was very grueling and very stressful,” said Ming.

That stress affected her appearance. So, like many women, she hit the department stores and bought skin care products that promised amazing results.

“[I] tried all these products and none of them did anything for my skin, I just felt so betrayed and so taken by this industry, that I wanted to do something about it,” she explained.

So, Zhao visited a specialist that created skincare tailored for her skin; it sparked an idea to bring that concept to the masses. She teamed up with her friend, Doctor Amy Yuan, a computational physicist who had her own skin issues that she was already trying to solve.

“To solve it, she built an A.I. powered database that found all the scientific research, all the ingredients that pertained to the issues that she had to understand what ingredients actually works with what individuals,” Zhao explained.

That database became “The Skin Genome Project.” The women, both pregnant at the time, developed a quiz that customers take online. Coupled with the database, it creates a personalized algorithm for each customer’s skincare regime.

“Our algorithm is also adaptive, so depending on who you are, you might get 20 questions, you might get 70 questions,” explained Zhao.

Their products can cost anywhere between $35 to $150. Zhao says skincare is just the beginning for them at Proven; they plan on expanding to baby care, body care, hair care and even cosmetics.

“We`re so excited about bringing cutting edge technology, cutting edge innovation, which really hadn’t been applied to this industry, to skincare and beauty which hasn’t seen changes for you know a good 60 years, to really revolutionize it,” she explained.

Zhao and Proven were featured on the show Shark Tank earlier this year; although they walked away without a deal, the company seems to be doing okay. Proven is reportedly expected to surpass $3 million in sales in its first year of operation. To learn more about Proven Skincare, visit their website by clicking here.

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