Olivia Chan is Leading a Makeup Revolution with AI Start-up, BeautyFact
January 18, 2023
In her former role as beauty editor for a local Chinese-language magazine in Hong Kong, Olivia Chan was responsible for testing all types of makeup products sent to her for reviews.
As a sufferer of eczema for more than twenty years, Olivia found that her sensitive skin became progressively worse trying and reviewing different beauty products, all whilst being equally harmful to the environment if she had to prematurely dispose of them.
With a background in e-commerce and communications, Olivia wanted to assist herself and more than one in five Hong Kongers suffering with eczema in sourcing beauty products made with safe ingredients suitable for sensitive skin and mother earth.
In June 2021, Olivia founded her start-up BeautyFact, an online platform that empowers consumers to understand what ingredients are safe to use for themselves.
“There is no specific government department for regulating beauty or personal care products,” Olivia stated in an interview. “However, more consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients and safety of beauty products.”
“At the same time, there are more self-claimed clean or natural beauty products in the industry. It is important to have a third-party to recognize the validity.” Olivia sought to establish BeautyFact to educate health- and environment-conscious consumers, in lieu of official guidance of what’s properly safe to use.
BeautyFact’s database covers more than 9000 common ingredients found in over 8000 beauty products; covering warnings for skin allergies, cancerogenic possibility, toxicity level, use of natural or artificial items, vegan or animal-extracted, and approval or ban from the FDA, EU markets, and Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR).
The start-up is Asia’s first beauty safety inspection tool, affording customers transparent information on products and ingredients, using a designer AI-algorithm to analyse one’s skin issues and suggesting suitable and safe items.
During her time as a beauty editor and researching for BeautyFact, Olivia found that while poisonous materials previously used in beauty and makeup products such as lead, mercury, and arsenic have been banned, the beauty industry still uses synthetic and chemical ingredients that may cause harm to those with sensitive skin. Parfum, formaldehyde, fluorine, parabens, and methanol are all commonplace ingredients known to adversely harm healthy skin.
Within its app, BeautyFact employs a custom-designed AI algorithm to guide consumers in answering questionnaires that assist with analysis of the user's severity of skin problems and lifestyle habits to tailor products best suited to use within their whole skincare lifecycle.
"Our system is built to parse, analyse and match the ingredients and their effects, both positive and negative, with skin types and problems based on scientific theories. When users come, the system chooses precise questions based on their problems, and then provides solutions to them,” Olivia explains.
“From time to time, the system keeps asking questions to users until their skin problems are eased and gone to the recovery cycle. When more users come to the platform, the system learns from the past results and gives out more precise solutions to new users, and therefore the later users will experience better solutions as the user base grows.”
Housing over 150 brands assisting Hong Kong and Asia’s community suffering from acne, eczema, and sensitive skin, Olivia is happy to see the impact BeautyFact is making locally and regionally.
“When I chat with our users, I found that my Gen Z customers pay more attention to the ingredients used in the products and the social impact of the brand, including [environmental] and social issues, and the marketing message. This reflects a must for brands to respond to the direct needs of customers.”
After scaling up in Hong Kong, Olivia is shifting her attention to Taiwan’s market, noticing similarities with widespread skin issues and brand penetration.
“We are sourcing new skincare products, supplements and lifestyle support products to satisfy the needs of an increasing customer base, and designing a tracking module that allows users to purchase the right products during each stage of their skin recovery.”
“After one year of BeautyFact running, we understand more about our customers' needs in the aim of becoming a one-stop-shop for their beauty and makeup products, whilst providing the option to have safe and environmentally friendly choices.”
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