Interview with Founder of Ao Skincare, Mark Gary
MBChB, FRACP, FRCPC, FRCPA, ABPath, ABDermpath, FRACCS, FASMS
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in the beauty business?
I am a dermatologist and a dermatopathologist. My training was completed at Harvard, Cornell, and New Zealand. I have a keen interest in cosmetic dermatology, and I have been interested in cosmeceuticals for many years as part of my clinical practice. Together with my partners, we have worked hard to develop a range of skincare products with validated active ingredients which act synergistically to guide skin health toward its optimum state.
The knowledge to deliver outstanding products comes from many years of observation and research in the field of active skincare. I personally am focused on delivering the very best skincare in the world. Products which I know are highly effective, safe, and innovative.
Growing up in New Zealand, Dr. Gray obtained his primary medical degree at the University of Otago in 1982, before undergoing postgraduate training in anatomic pathology and dermatopathology at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital and Cornell University/New York Hospital. Dr Gray then went on to complete his training in Dermatology and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Canada (Dermatology) in 1993. He is also a qualified Mohs Surgeon.
In 2010, he became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, and is Board Certified in the United States in both Pathology and Dermatopathology. He is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery and the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
Dr. Gray is a member of The American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy and Australian College of Cosmetic Surgery, and the American Society for Mohs Surgery. Throughout his career, he has established himself as a thought leader in the field and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Harvard-trained pathologist and dermatologist Dr. Mark Gray deeply understands the science of skin.
As the founding director of the Skin Institute, a group of multi-disciplinary specialist skin clinics in New Zealand, he has spent the past 20 years seeing his patients struggle with the skincare world’s mixed messages: effective ingredients that are harmful; natural ingredients that don’t deliver results.
Armed with the belief that skincare is evolutionary, he explored breakthrough scientific advancements and societal trends toward globalism, environmentalism, and rising ethical standards to find the ideal balance between health and efficacy.
Q. What inspired you to start your company and create your brand?
The inspiration for starting Ao Skincare comes from an innate desire to create. I instinctually question the norm and seek to explore new ideation. Often results come from the unexpected combination of old and new. Recognition of what is real and of value, as opposed to what may simply be on-trend or “novel” but untenable—this is what drives me.
Q. What makes your brand different from other beauty brands?
Ao Skincare is supported by four primary pillars:
- Carefully curated synergistic active ingredients, including bespoke New Zealand- sourced botanicals
- A focus on endogenous skin health optimization—supporting and augmenting internal molecular processes toward attainment of peak performance and appearance
- Proprietary cold-processed formulation to ensure the integrity and potency of our selected ingredients, and to avoid the use of traditional emulsifying agents
- Award-winning, efficacious formulations
Cold-processed formulas that retain the raw power of every active.
We source the earth’s most powerful active botanicals, super-antioxidants, vitamins, and peptides. To blend these ingredients into complex formulations without reducing their potency, we developed a proprietary cold-processing system.
Traditional skincare products are heated to extremely high temperatures—and delicate actives are damaged. Our cold process doesn’t use heat during manufacturing, so our ingredients remain raw and powerful. Think of it like the difference between a raw and a cooked vegetable. Raw vegetables are more nutrient-rich than their heated counterparts. And Ao products are more nutrient-rich than other skincare products.
Rethink the Way You Moisturize
Our approach makes skin healthy and strong, so it can protect and defend itself naturally. Instead of slathering moisture on the surface of your skin where it can only be marginally effective, Ao products optimize skin function—helping you produce and retain more of your own natural moisture, both on and below the surface.
We have seen that it takes two to three weeks for patients to see the results of resetting their skin to moisturize in a different way. But once they see the change, they never turn back.
“We’re showing the world that there’s a better way to moisturize.” — Mark Gray
Q. Without giving away too many of your secrets (smile)—what do you anticipate your growth to be next year, and what is your direction for the future of the brand?
There are a few ingredients that we think will be “on-trend” in the coming years, and we will be looking to bring these into our product pipeline. Some of these ingredients and processes originate from New Zealand (my home country) and will be potential game changers. We don’t talk about our product pipeline, but we look forward to sharing more about this later.
Q. Finally, what gets you out of bed in the morning—what is your daily motivation?
“Do no harm” is a doctor/patient doctrine. It’s what we learn when we first become a doctor, and it guides me to this day. To me, my patients and their wellbeing is first and foremost, and it’s the foundation of which we have built Ao Skincare; in the first instance to do no harm. It’s why we developed “raw skincare,” it’s why we use none of the “dirty 30” unsafe ingredients that so many others still use today; it’s why we only use airless components for our treatments and serums; it’s why we are going 100 percent recyclable and sustainable with our airless bottles and packaging, and it’s why we developed our multifunctional, layered approach to formulations. Do no harm.
I think it has been this unrelenting focus that led to Ao Skincare being developed. I was incredibly surprised that no other skincare brand that we could find was formulating in this way.
From this foundation, amazing things can happen.
AO Skincare will be exhibiting at Cosmoprof North America 2018 edition July 29th-31st at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Visit AO Skincare at https://www.aoskincare.com to shop the collection.
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