When I wrote last month that MIT professor Robert Langer and Polaris Venture Partners had teamed with veterans of the beauty industry, the burning question on my mind was: What would their product be? Well, I’ve just learned the answer (most of it, anyway).
Living Proof, the Cambridge, MA, startup formed to apply innovations in science to address beauty challenges, has in recent days begun to sell its first hair products on its new website. The firm claims that it’s got “the first new anti-frizz technology in over 30 years,” and for one month only customers can buy its hair sprays, creams, and the like directly from its labs. I was tempted to buy some for kicks, but with its $24 price tag, I think I’ll stick with my cheap tube of L.A. Looks “Mega X-Treme Hold” hair gel.
In true form, the secretive startup wouldn’t reveal details about its online product launch, which, sources told me, began over this past weekend. “At this point we’re not making any comments about the company or the products other than what’s on the website,” says Cassie Kelley, vice president of marketing at Living Proof. “Everything you need to know is there, for now.”
Everything? The website gives virtually no details about how its new technology combats frizz. However, here’s a patent filing I found that describes at least some of the technology that Living Proof (formerly Andora) is working on. And here is a webpage with links to descriptions of—and ingredient lists for—half a dozen of Living Proof’s frizz-fighting products. I’m no chemist, and it’s not clear to me whether these ingredients match with the technology in the patent filing or not. (If you are a chemist, feel free to share your thoughts.)
One of the inventors listed on the patent filing is Amir Nashat, a partner at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham. Amir, the former acting president of Living Proof, is on the board of the company. Nashat has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from MIT, where he studied in Langer’s lab. Langer is also on the board of Living Proof. I tried to reach Nashat at his office yesterday without any luck.
So the mystery continues, fueled in no small part by Living Proof’s simultaneously minimalist and grandiose marketing materials. In a videotaped introduction on the new site, for instance, CEO, Rob Robillard, a veteran of beauty products giant L’Oreal, stands in front of a plain-white backdrop and says: “Everything we do in Living Proof… is about creating science that has never been used in this industry before.” He follows it up with a series of similarly non-specific statements about the company’s scientific pedigree and approach. But his hair looks pretty good the whole way through.
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