Trust Physicians, not Chemists.

At Ao, we applaud the skills of industrial chemists. We just don’t think they should drive the development of skincare products. 

To understand why we hold this opinion, here’s the way many skincare brands are created. Typically, a large cosmetics company will identify an opportunity in the market. It will see sales taking off in a previously overlooked category, or perhaps notice the buzz from health and beauty bloggers. 

It will commission a team of industrial chemists to formulate a product that can enter this market. Skilled in manufacturing techniques and equipped with an arsenal of well-known ingredients, the chemists will put together a package the marketers can sell. They will prioritize qualities like appearance, stability and ease of manufacture. The active ingredients will be well known and their potency will be already established, so there’s no need for further tests on safety and efficacy. 

Then all that’s required is the right brand name and packaging. A new skincare product is ready to hit the mass market. 

Is it better to be ‘green’? 

At the other end of the marketing spectrum, there are boutique start-ups and innovators who are driven by a different desire – the urge to be green. But there’s a problem with this approach, too. 

The green and natural crowd may be using innovative substances sourced from nature but they often struggle to demonstrate efficacy. It’s expensive to fund rigorous tests that prove your eco-friendly formulation actually works. It’s also hard to manufacture these products at scale, so they tend to remain locked in a low-sales niche. 

There’s a better way: one that combines the best of both approaches. 

Don’t start with industrial chemistry – draw on the humanistic, scientific ethos of medicine. 

And don’t just rely on natural ingredients and storytelling – demonstrate the efficacy of your product. 

That’s why Ao products are formulated from a carefully considered combination of proven ingredients, like bakuchiol and astaxanthin. These are not only derived from nature, but have also been proven to work in reputable trials. 

Our products are manufactured using state-of-the-art cold processing techniques that avoid the downsides of many industrially manufactured cosmeceuticals. 

We follow this ‘best of both worlds’ approach because Ao products are created by a team led by a Harvard-educated dermatologist and physician. Dr Mark Gray has spent his career studying the way skin reacts to various conditions and substances. His watchword is ‘first do no harm.’ Just as importantly, he wants to be sure his products actually work. 

We think that’s a better way of developing skincare products. Sorry about that, chemists.



"Skincare science needs to be on the very edge of social change and evolution in order to succeed."

Dr. Mark Gray