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Beauty Interview

Interview with Patricia Pao

This week’s interview is with Patti Pao – founder and CEO of Restorsea, and superwoman extraordinaire. I felt honored to have the opportunity to interview Patti, who is a fountain of knowledge on not just skincare, but also starting your own business, and finding happiness in one’s career. I truly enjoyed learning about Patti’s journey and learnings along the way, and I hope you do as well. Enjoy meeting Patti!


Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

My name is Patti Pao.  I am the founder and CEO of Restorsea, a prestige skincare brand, and I live in New York City.

Can you share a bit about how your career evolved to where it is today? How did you decide to take the leap from working at a large company to founder and CEO? 

When I graduated from Harvard Business School all I wanted to do is work in the beauty business.  My poor dad asked me, “Why can’t you be an investment banker or consultant like everyone else?”.  My first job in the beauty business was with Avon Products. It was there that I learned that I was really good at finding new technologies/ingredients and turning them into blockbuster brands.  I discovered the potential of glycolic acid as an anti-aging active ingredient and helped to create the billion dollar Avon ANEW franchise.

In August 2010, I was touring a salmon hatchery and saw that the workers’ hands, which were constantly submerged in the baby salmon post-hatching fluid, looked like they were twenty years old while their faces looked much older than their actual ages.  The reason why is because of an enzyme that baby salmon release at birth. Unlike a chicken who can physically peck its way out of its eggshell, a baby salmon can’t get out of its eggshell unassisted.  Therefore, when it is ready to be born, it releases an enzyme.  This enzyme is designed to only dissolve the eggshell so that the baby salmon can swim safely out of the opening carved by the enzyme.  When this enzyme is applied to human skin, it only dissolves the dead skin cells leaving the living skin cells untouched and able to thrive.  Plus, we believe that the amniotic fluid from the eggshell has anti-aging properties and the eggshell fragments have skin strengthening properties.  The workers’ hands, submerged in the post-hatching waters, were constantly exposed to this enzyme.  This is why their hands looked so much younger than their actual ages.

I spent a year formulating a day cream and an eye cream and in August 2011, I sent lab samples to Pat Saxby, VP and Divisional Merchandising Manager of Beauty at Bergdorf Goodman.  A month later she called and said that she would take the brand.  And that was the beginning of Restorsea.

Restorsea treatments

What were some of the proudest moments with Restorsea? 

1.  Finding Aquabeautine XL® which is the greatest ingredient I have seen in the 25 years I have been in the beauty business
2.  Securing distribution at Bergdorf Goodman based on lab samples of the Day Cream and Eye Cream which I carried around in a Ziploc® bag
3.  Raising my first round of financing in six weeks (I never thought I would raise a dime)
4.  Securing the 20 year global rights to Aquabeautine XL®
5. Raising over $55 million dollars; it’s very expensive to build awareness and trial. Things never turn out the way you think they will (both good and bad) and they take much longer than you think they will. This is why it is important to have a long runway.

There are so many skincare brands out there, which each seem to tout something special. How do you distinguish between the “good” ones, and the ones that are just hype? What should we look for?

You need to look for:

1. Transparent, easily understandable technology
2. Unique and differentiated technology
3. Strong clinical results
4. Ingredient composition.  Are the formulas natural and free of toxic/harmful ingredients?

That being said, there are a lot of products out there that smell good and feel great and they are making lots of money.  And that’s cool too…If the user loves them, that is what is the most important.

gwyneth restorsea

Gwyneth Paltrow for Restorsea

What are the most important factors to consider for having great skin? 

The six parameters  to having great skin are as follows:

1. Low amount of fine lines and wrinkles
2. Low level of hyperpigmentation
3. High evenness of skin tone
4. Lots of skin clarity
5. High level of skin firmness.  You should be able to pinch your skin and have it spring back immediately.
6. High level of skin smoothness. Continue Reading