Are you interested in shortening your skincare to make it finish 10x faster? Do you like the idea of including traditional Korean ingredients to formulate something entirely new? If yes, then VENN skincare could be a brand worth trying next. A few weeks ago, we got the chance to speak with CEO and Co-Founder, Brian Oh. We were mesmerized by the ample knowledge he shared with us regarding the science behind some of their best-selling products and his grand vision for VENN.
Q: What made you want to start a skincare company?
A: I used to be a corporate lawyer in New York City, practicing bank finance. Then, I got the opportunity to go to Silicon Valley and work with startup companies and venture capitals. Despite my legal profession, I was actually a skincare junkie… So when I met with [my co-founder], I shared the vision of creating a really science-focused brand using clean ingredients that focuses on streamlining skincare without compromising on the skin benefits. And that’s how we created VENN.
Q: Was there a specific reason for your interest in skincare or was it pure curiosity?
A: Both. Obviously, I was always interested in self-care, especially with respect to skin. [Which is] the case for many people in Korea. But, skincare is really a part of our culture.
Q: Can you share some insights on the traditional and Korean-inspired ingredients from your line?
A: The prescription of the Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil Serum comes from this book called Dongui Bogam, which is a book from the Joseon Dynasty almost 400 years ago. And Dongui Bogam is considered one of the most respected medical encyclopedia in South Korea. And in that book, there is one skincare prescription called ‘Jaungo.’ And Jaungo is used to heal skin wounds. There’s this wonderful traditional first aid ointment prescription. So why not apply this to skincare?
Our second kind of Korean-inspired ingredient is our Ginsenoside Compound K, which is the key ingredient in our newest product, Age-Response Compound K Hyaluronic Booster. As well as our first product, Age-Reversing All In One Concentrate, and our Revitalizing Lifting Mask. So Compound K is basically the final metabolite from Korean ginseng, and it’s also considered one of the key anti-aging components in ginseng.
Q: What are the similarities and differences of Compound K and Vitamin C?
A: In terms of the skin benefits, Compound K really hydrates the skin. It has really powerful anti-aging benefits, promotes collagen synthesis within the skin, provides the brightening effect, really clarifies the skin, [and] addresses discoloration. Very similar benefits as Vitamin C, which is the most loved skincare ingredient. Unlike Vitamin C, it doesn’t have oxidation issues. It’s not sensitizing to the skin. It’s a very stable antioxidant that actually also soothes and really makes your skin hydrated and very comfortable as well.
Q: Can you explain the formulation behind the Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate and how it works?
A: Our All-In-One Concentrate really best defines the brand. When we say ‘All-In-One,’ it’s all-in-one in terms of being able to streamline your skincare by replacing otherwise different products you need to use.
So we then looked into, “Okay, when people are using all these different types of products, what are basically the essential core benefits that they want?” So what our All-In-One Concentrate does is it hydrates the skin and moisturizes the skin and really improves the skin’s moisture barrier. Thereby reducing the transepidermal water loss over time. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles, strengthens the skin by increasing the skin’s dermal density, improves skin elasticity, brightens the skin’s appearance, and reduces the roughness of the skin. So yeah, literally everything! And that’s also partly the reason why, as a brand, we invest heavily in terms of clinical tests. And we wanted to show that with the single formulations, you get enough of all these comprehensive skin benefits that you want.
Q: Can you tell us more about green tea and how it’s used in your line?
A: Green tea is really an amazing ingredient for the skin. For two reasons. First of all, green tea is a very strong antioxidant. So it really helps protect your skin against environmental stressors, including free radicals. But another great benefit that green tea provides is being able to balance your skin’s setup. So it helps restore that oil-water balance of the skin and maintain the oil-water balance.
In terms of our formulation, there are two green tea ingredients that we use. The base formulation is green tea leaf water. And one of the key actives in our Age-Reversing All-In-One Concentrate as well as in our Vitamin B All-In-One Concentrate is Camellia Sinensis Catechins, which is the green tea catechins – a powerful antioxidant from green tea leaves.
Q: Is there anything special about the Vitamin B All-In-One Concentrate?
A: So our Vitamin B All-In-Concentrate, as key ingredients, uses six different Vitamin Bs, including Niacinamide. But one kind of special thing that we did with respect to our Vitamin B formulation was combining those B Vitamins with 11 different amino acids, including eight essential amino acids. When you combine these 11 different amino acids with the B Vitamins, the B vitamins’ benefits amplify. There is that synergy. And so that’s the reason why we use these two different groups of actives/active ingredients in our formulation.
The special ingredient is Mastic. Mastic Gum is another very powerful antioxidant. Similar to Compound K, Mastic has very low solubility in water. So by using our solubilization technology, we were able to create a water-solubilized form of Mastic Gum.
Q: How do you decide between the Age-Reversing and Vitamin B Activated?
A: You could choose between the two first based on your texture preference. So Age-Reversing has a lighter weight cream texture, whereas Vitamin B has a relatively richer texture. And the richness isn’t created because we use a higher oil percentage. B Vitamins naturally create richness. We’ve also seen our clients choose between the two based on simply their ingredient preference. Especially these days [with] maskne. Right now, there are a lot of articles that talk about how B Vitamins and Niacinamide are helpful to address those concerns. For people where more aged skin is their concern, I would recommend the Age-Reversing All-In-Concentrate.
Q: How does the Hyaluronic Booster play into the VENN family?
A: We wanted to introduce a booster that people who don’t use our All-In-One Concentrate could also easily incorporate into their existing skincare routines and still kind of experience all the science and everything that VENN has to offer. We witnessed ever since we launched the booster because since people are familiar with hyaluronic acids, they think it’s simply a hyaluronic acid serum. But then the real special ingredient is Ginsenoside Compound K that we’ve solubilized. And we use around 3x the amount of Compound K that we’ve used in the Age Reversing All-In-One Concentrate. So we really wanted to create a product where it really shows off this key ingredient that VENN uses through our technology.
Q: Is there technology used for the hyaluronic acid?
A: In terms of hyaluronic acids, we actually use five different molecular types. But in terms of molecular weights, we actually, on purpose, used medium and high weight molecular types just so that we prevent any chances of hyaluronic sucking up too much water so that it ends up sensitizing the skin.
Q: Are there any new developments for future products?
A: We’ve been researching ingredients – probiotics and prebiotics – and combination thereof, which we call symbiotics, that really help balance our skin microbiome and really improve the health of skin microbiome…So the new product that we’re very excited to introduce early next year is actually our Symbiotic Defense Mist. We already launched this in South Korea, and it’s going to launch in the US and Europe in the first quarter of next year. 80% of the formulation is pure symbiotics.
If you want to watch the full interview with Brian Oh, check out our video:
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