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The Science of Innovation

By: Alexandra Voigt
Posted: June 5, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

Living Proof’s debut product line evolved out of the discovery of the polyfluoroester molecule, which adheres tightly to the hair to provide longer-lasting moisture resistance and rebalancing of the hair fiber’s interaction with the atmosphere, even after extreme humidity.

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The fact that Robillard makes an effort to respond to every e-mail sent to the company also helps him maintain a sense of balance. “I’ve never felt like I had more information about what is and isn’t working than I do now. I will continue to respond to every customer and post on the blog as long as I’m able.”

Face It

The Face It skin care line was created by Allison Gallo, an MIT graduate with a degree in chemical engineering. While earning her degree, Gallo considered how she could apply what she was learning toward launching her own line of products. “I went to MIT to learn more about how to apply technology and research to skin care,” she explains. “My motivation for the line was to encourage young people to take care of their skin early. I put the line together based on my research of what people really need to have healthy skin.”

Her products feature an encapsulated delivery system and ingredients she discovered to be most effective while doing her course work. “I think my background does give [the line] credibility; for me, it was a really important experience in terms of developing the products. But I also think it’s important to look at the fact that I’m going through [my 20s right now], so I understand what’s important in a skin care line,” she explains. To introduce Face It to the market, Gallo took her products directly to her target audience—embarking on a mini college tour, appearing at Fashion Week and spearheading online marketing efforts through the company’s Web site and via MySpace. “It was a soft launch. I wanted to keep it small so I could manage the sales and go from there,” she says. Currently, Face It products are only available through the Web site, but as the line grows, Gallo is looking for the best retail outlet to reach her target market. “I don’t mind keeping [the line] small, I just really want people to use the products and enjoy them,” she says.

MIT’s Future in Beauty

The presence of MIT in the beauty industry clearly increases the potential for innovation. “I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” says Gallo. “Now that the cosmetic industry has become more technical, people can see what MIT has to contribute.” Robillard adds, “Because we are successful, people will follow suit.” As for Living Proof and Face It, both companies are committed to the current product lines and will launch new products when they are ready.

“We’re not led by a marketing calendar, says Robillard. “When the next invention is ready, we’ll launch it.”