Sometimes, the most innovative products are simply accidental side effects of scientists trying to do something else. Such is the case with Groh, a new organic antiaging hair- and skin-care line created by renowned immunologist Marvin Hausman.

This story first appeared in the April 10, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Hausman — who in addition to being a board-certified surgeon and immunologist is also chief executive officer and chairman of Entia Biosciences Inc., Groh’s parent company — was actually researching autoimmune disorders and neurogenetic diseases when he realized that a significant percentage of medical research deals solely with treating symptoms. He set out to change that by researching what causes cells to age and die, shifting his focus from developing drugs for companies such as Bristol-Myers International, Mead Johnson Pharmaceutical Co., and E.R. Squibb to studying medical foods and the science of nutrigenomics, the ability to affect genes through nutrition. “We were never told about nutrition in medical school,” said Hausman, who graduated from New York University’s School of Medicine in 1967, with a laugh. “I think it maybe appeared once in my biochemistry textbook.” The Hippocratic Oath’s directive — “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — inspired Hausman. At the top of his list: ergothioneine, an antioxidant which he sourced from mushrooms. As he was exploring its possible use for mitigating medical problems, he noted that his patients’ skin, hair and nails were growing faster and remaining healthier.

Using a medical delivery system he’d patented earlier, Hausman was able to target ergothioneine delivery to cells in the body where ergothioneine was most needed, and Groh was born. “Groh isn’t intended to replace anything; it’s additive to what others are doing in the industry,” said Hausman, adding that the system is designed to complement existing beauty routines.

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Groh’s Ergo Boost line includes Skin Recharging Bar, $22 for two bars; Daily Replenishing Supplement, $39 for 60 capsules; Hair & Scalp Conditioning Treatment, $59 for 8 oz.; Skin Repair Treatment, $42 for 2 oz., and a Lifestyle Kit with all four products for $152.
“The biggest drawback to most multivitamins is that your body doesn’t have the ability to process them,” said Devin Andres, chief operating officer for Entia Biosciences. “You hope to force enough in to get absorption, but in reality a lot of them just go out. With [the Daily Replenishing Supplements] we get a very high rate of absorption, and the body has enough resources to allocate them to the right places in the body.” Applying the topical products reduces inflammation, he added, likening its application on the scalp to fertilizing a field. “The more nutrients there are, the better for growing,” he said.

The line is rolling out to about 300 salons in the U.S. in April, with a goal of expanding to 1,500 to 2,000 salons by year-end, Andres said. Also in April, Groh is partnering with Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas to offer Ergo Boost Aromatherapy Scalp Treatment, a $25 add-on service which is five-fold more potent than the at-home version. In addition to the key ingredient, ergothioneine, the treatment includes Vitamin D2-infused argan oil, chia seeds, rosemary, lemon peel, lavender and sweet almond oil. Effects are said to work for two to four weeks.

While executives declined comment on projected sales, industry sources estimated that the line could do $10 million to $15 million at retail in its first year on counter.