The beauty industry is chock full of female founders who cooked up formulas in their kitchens — often to address issues such as kids’ eczema or the desire for less toxic products.
But for single dad and biogeochemist Dr. Boyce Clark, the decision to get into the beauty business was prompted by a quest to ease the morning styling ritual for his then 12-year-old daughter Alden. He also wanted to curtail bullying she was the recipient of because of her frizzy hair. She skipped sleepovers for fear of chiding over her tresses and even quit the swim team because of “pool” hair.
The anti-frizz products and treatments he found on the market didn’t address frizz on the level of chemical bonds. And, he added, keratin straightening treatments available at salons actually broke bonds and sealed hair using added animal keratin into strands with toxic formaldehyde and damaging heat. That’s when he decided to create his own.
“I approached the problem as a scientist,” he explained, including the quest to avoid harmful chemicals found in other lines. “And I approached it as a parent with a problem for my child. Mornings for my daughter were a nightmare. My emotional father-daughter connection pushed me to find something to help.”
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In 2016, adopting a scientific approach, Clark dug into what causes frizz. “We have a laboratory set up in our house. Several nights a week were spent testing different formulas on each side of my daughter’s head, measuring results using the scientific method,” he said. “She wasn’t thrilled.”
Clark wrapped his daughter’s locks in Saran wrap, applied different formulas and gauged the resistance of each concoction after rinsed and blown dry.
He discovered that each strand of hair has a core of keratin protein with layers outside, much like shingles on a roof. To have a good hair day, he said, those shingles need to lay flat. If not, the cuticles on each strand of hair catch and rub together, creating tangles and static electricity. Raised cuticles also allow humidity to seep into the hair core, causing strands to swell irregularly resulting in kinks. To that end he figured that altering the natural keratin protein in hair could make it water-repelling, or hydrophobic. Sealing the hair shaft, he said, also reduces friction increasing hair’s lubricity.
Clark’s solution was the Lubricity Labs System, an at-home smoothing treatment combining keratin and glycolic acid to treat hair without the need for heat application. The two-step antifrizz system tames coarse and unruly hair without toxic chemicals.
Lubricity Labs’ signature product line, The Lubricity System, a two-step treatment for salon-quality smoothing along with a Q-Shampoo and Q-Condition to maintain frizz-free results, and men’s beard oil. Adding four styling products, launching this month, Q-Restore Masque (utilizes Quinoa Proteins to repair and block frizz), S Total Style (a 10-in-1 styling crème), S Total Curl, and S Total Style.
At the requests of professional stylists looking for non-toxic options, Clark plans to roll out an in-salon smoothing treatment, Q-Smooth Active in 3,700 salons in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Georgia and Florida in Q4 and hopes to expand nationwide in 2019.
All ingredients in Lubricity Labs products are naturally derived, and the formulas are vegan, non-GMO, and paraben- and sulfate-free. Also, the lineup is certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny and safe for all hair types, regardless of ethnicity, age or color treated tresses. “I wanted to go with all naturally derived ingredients,” he said. “I was very concerned about what I was putting on the body of a 12-year-old prepubescent girl. I was very aware of endocrine disruptors.”
Working on the launch helped Clark understand the relationship women have with hair. “I used to see women who had great hair, but I didn’t realize the two or three hours it took to get it that way…and sometimes they’d walk into the humidity and it would be back [to pre-styled]. It was rewarding to create something that helps.”
Lubricity Labs is available online, prices range from $14 to $135 and a listing of salons offering the smoothing treatment will be available this fall.
Is Alden happy with her hair now? “As much as any 15-year-old can be,” said Clark.