Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fighting frizz with science in Kendall Square

Robert Langer is a powerhouse in medical research. Last year, this MIT professor won the prestigious Millennium Technology Prize, which recognizes tech innovation. He's created a bandage to be used inside the body inspired by the webbed feet of geckos. He's exploring nanotechnology to battle cancer.

But one Langer invention is creating a stir in the beauty world. It's called polyfluoroester, and the molecule is the basis of a new line of products that Langer and his scientific team have created for Cambridge company Living Proof.

So, what does said molecule do? It tames frizzy hair.

The $24 product, called NoFrizz, won Allure magazine's Beauty Breakthrough award last fall, and was unveiled on QVC in January and at Sephora cosmetics stores in February.

"It gets a lot of buzz and then you have to have it," says Stephanie Kostas, a 30-year-old New Haven resident who learned about NoFrizz on the popular beauty products review website, MakeupAlley ( Kostas says Living Proof's six NoFrizz formulations are some of the most talked about items on MUA's boards at the moment.

Since the 1980s, the hair industry has relied heavily on silicone-based products to combat the frizz that occurs when hair encounters water or humidity. But silicone has drawbacks: It can weigh down hair and make it look greasy.

In polyfluoroester, Langer found an alternative that avoids those problems