Living Proof, a line of hair products, was founded by Polaris Venture Partners, the venture capital firm behind generic drugmaker and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, which makes a recently approved drug for irritable bowel syndrome. Polaris co-founder Jon Flint says he compared ingredients in hair products and realized “they’re basically identical.” He called Robert Langer, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who holds about 800 patents and has helped Polaris found companies working on therapies for heart disease, respiratory infections, and cancer.
Langer found the main ingredient in most anti-frizz products is silicone. He says he designed a new lighter, more water-resistant polymer. To help hair appear thicker, Langer delved into a library of polymers his lab had already developed. Polaris then hired five scientists experienced in biotech and cancer research to formulate the actual products. “I don’t necessarily think of it just as beauty. You’re helping with hair care and skin care,” Langer says. “Really, we’re using science for something that can make people happier.”