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No Frizz, No Problem

April 1, 2009

Beauty industry vets and MIT scientists to create a new breed of hair care technology.

No Frizz, No Problem!

Beauty industry vets and MIT scientists to create a new breed of hair care technology.

By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

Every gal knows how humidity can torpedo a good hair day. There’s a delicate give and take of water between hair and the environment. Humidity changes the surface texture of the hair fiber—making it rough and full of friction—and increasing absorption of water by the interior of the hair shaft. Although there are many silicone-based frizz-busting products on the market, when push comes to shove, few of them really deliver on their promises. This perplexed the scientists at Cambridge, MA-based Living Proof, who wondered how they could reduce the surface friction of the hair andprevent the hair (and its surface) from absorbing water. Those objectives unfolded into an exciting laboratory discovery and subsequent creation of No Frizz, a line that debuted nationally in February but has already garnered Allure’s coveted 2008 Beauty Breakthough award.

PolyfluoroEster in No Frizz eliminates frizz and keeps it from coming back.
The No Frizz line is comprised of six products—Straight Making No Frizz Styling Cream for medium to thick hair, Straight Making No Frizz Styling Treatment for thick to coarse hair, Wave Shaping Curl Defining Cream for medium to thick hair, Wave Shaping Curl Defining Treatment for thick to coarse hair, and two types of Styling Spray for fine to medium hair—one for Straight Making and one for Wave Shaping and Curl Defining.

According to Rob Robillard, CEO of Living Proof, it took about two years for the raw idea of No Frizz to blossom into a usable product. “This is remarkable when you consider it can take a typical beauty company five to ten years to introduce a new technology,” he commented.

A brand new company, Living Proof is a carefully assembled medley of diversely-backgrounded scientists and beauty industry veterans committed to using science to find breakthrough solutions to existing beauty problems.

“We started with frizz because we identified it as women’s No. 1 hair concern,” said Mr. Robillard. “What might seem to be the biggest challenge [to the fledgling company]—having no experience in beauty—was actually the biggest opportunity. With no preconceived notions of what could or couldn’t be done, our scientists were able to approach the beauty issues with a totally fresh perspective, analyze the problems and their causes, and design scientific solutions that were tailored to the problem but not derivative of past beauty products. With this outsider’s approach, there were no constraints.”

The company set to work after asking a simple question: how can we reduce the surface friction of the hair? The answer, they decided, was to “create an exquisitely thin, smooth layer that perfectly coats the hair and stays put.” A secondary question they pondered was how they could prevent the hair (and its surface) from absorbing water. The answer, they found, was to “produce a surface on the hair with as low of a surface energy as possible,” which is the key measure of all hydrophobic materials.

Laboratory Breakthrough

In November of 2006, after a year of research, Living Proof scientists discovered the PolyfluoroEster molecule, a smaller molecule than the traditional materials used for frizz control, and the first new anti-frizz technology in over 30 years.

“Our team was looking at ingredients used in a variety of fields that could provide an effective barrier against humidity and reduce surface friction, the two main causes of frizz,” explained Mr. Robillard. “PolyfluoroEster was inspired by similar materials used in medical devices and is effective because it is able to achieve both goals and yet it is weightless on the hair. Hair is protected from humidity and friction yet never has that heavy oiliness of silicone.”

Due to its chemical nature, the formulation adheres tightly to the hair, which allows for long-lasting moisture resistance and rebalancing of the hair fiber’s interaction with the atmosphere, even after extreme humidity. In fact, according to the company, repeat use after shampooing seems to improve the hair’s own ability to resist humidity change, and the Living Proof product seems to keep working better, according to Mr. Robillard.

After putting PolyfluoroEster into play as the line’s primary anti-frizz ingredient, the scientists discovered the molecule’s low surface energy imparted two additional benefits: the ability to repel water and oils, it is actually more repellent to dirt and particles than natural hair; and the ability to impart a long-lasting shine due to it’s low refractive index.

“PolyfluoroEster … leaves hair cleaner so you can go longer between shampoos. It also has a cumulative benefit, meaning with repeated use, your hair repels frizz even better,” said Mr. Robillard.

He added that despite the product’s tight bond with the hair, there is no special shampoo or method required for removing the products from the hair and that they do not strip the hair.

The products are formulated to be effective individually, yet Mr. Robillard said they’ve find that many of their customers like to use multiple products when styling.

“For example,” he said, “they apply the No Frizz Cream to wet hair prior to styling and then finish the dry style with the No Frizz Spray for shine. The spray is a great overall touch up product as well.”

No Frizz products are currently sold in Sephora,, QVC and on Living Proof’s own website. Prices are $24 for 3.4 oz of No Frizz Styling Spray ($14 for 1.7 oz.) and $24 for 4 oz bottles of Styling Treatments and Styling Creams ($14 for 2 oz).

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