Having Vanquished Hair Frizz, Living Proof Looks to Skin Care and Cosmetics

12/1/08

Since I wrote about Living Proof this summer, we’ve had a flurry of comments and questions about the Cambridge, MA-based firm’s biotech-inspired products for combating frizzy hair. And my Xconomy colleagues and I have had some questions of our own about the company and its wares, so I recently caught up with Living Proof CEO Rob Robillard and co-founder Amir Nashat, of Polaris Venture Partners, to get some answers.

Living Proof was keeping details about its operations and products close to the vest late this summer, in part (I later learned) because the startup had gotten word from Allure magazine that its “No Frizz” products would be among Allure’s “beauty breakthroughs of the year” and not to talk about them before the magazine’s story came out in October. Now Living Proof, which even drew a mention on the Today Show for its technology last month, is planning a series of launches for the products over the next several months, Robillard told me. And Polaris’ Nashat filled me in on the genesis of the company.

First, however, Robillard shed some light on the technology behind the three-year-old firm’s anti-frizz line. The key ingredient in all the products: a lightweight material called polyflouroester, which Allure describes as an ingredient in coatings for CDs and contact lenses. The substance, Robillard says, combats frizz by both coating porous hair shafts, preventing water from penetrating them, and by smoothing over hair cuticles to prevent surface friction. He argues that polyflouroester prevents frizz better than silicone used in other products because its molecules’ smaller size enables them to fit into tiny pores in our hair that silicone molecules cannot get into.

Robillard says he decided to start selling a limited supply of the hair products back in September on the Living Proof’s Web site, and then the firm struck a deal with QVC to sell off the rest of its initial batch of products on the home-shopping channel. (Robillard didn’t provide sales figures, but he mentioned that as of two weeks ago QVC had nearly sold out.) In the first quarter of 2009, Living Proof plans to fully launch its no-frizz products on QVC, its Web site, and at Sephora beauty shops.

What’s next? While shielding details of future products from competitors in the beauty industry, Robillard says that Living Proof plans … Next Page »

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