Sometimes necessity truly is the mother of invention.
When Wilhelmina model Giorgos Tsetis started losing his hair in his early 20s, he tried Finasteride to minimize further balding. Unhappy with the negative side effects of the prescription drug, he sought a better solution.
Through his efforts, he teamed with former fashion executive Roland Peralta who struggled with hair loss for more than 15 years following diagnoses of thyroid cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. They created Nutrafol, an ingestible product for men and women losing their hair using clinically proven natural ingredients.
Peralta and Tsetis researched nutraceuticals following their mutual disappointment with existing products on the market, which led them to the creation of Nutrafol. The formula uses a cocktail approach harnessing nutraceutical-grade power plants including curcumin, ashwaganda and saw palmetto to treat hair loss and address underlying causes. Nutrafol retails for $88 for a one-month supply (nutrafol.com). It is recommended Nutrafol be taken for at least three months.
The duo closed on the first round of public funding for their one-year-old start-up. They plan to ramp up distribution throughout influencer salons, dermatologist offices and e-commerce, while also expanding in what they see as fertile markets in China and Europe.
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Their blueprint for growth comes at a time when ingestibles are garnering attention, especially from younger consumers who subscribe to a beauty from within strategy. Retailers said ingestible hair-growth products are growing by double digits. Walgreens Boots Alliance just introduced Beauty Beneath, a supplement to prevent aging.
“Acceptance of nutraceuticals is about to tip,” confirmed Peralta, Nutrafol’s cofounder and president. “There is a lot of activity between the food and pharmaceutical sectors. People are realizing functional ingredients have health benefits.” He further explained that consumer product companies are beginning to act like pharmaceutical firms, buying up nutraceuticals companies with ingredients shown to have direct health benefits.
Additionally, there’s tremendous market opportunity with about 40 million women and 40 million men facing hair loss in the U.S., said Peralta. And it could be even bigger since many women don’t openly discuss the issue.
“We created this from our personal issues,” said Tsetis, the company’s cofounder and chief executive officer. “We connected because we were both seeking a healthy and effective solution. And apparently, those two words didn’t always go together. The combination of healthy and effective was very hard to find.”
The existing choices, said Tsetis are pharmaceuticals with side effects including a decreased libido or supplements which made claims he said are not scientifically substantiated. “The side effects are devastating and can change your confidence and affect your whole life,” said Tsetis, adding he has a genetic predisposition for hair loss. “There hasn’t been any true innovation in hair loss in years. We identified a white space.”
Nutrafol was formulated to address what causes hair to fall out. “We had a phenomenal team of doctors who helped us identify the root causes. There’s no such thing as a magic pill, but our product is very holistic. Address the causes and you will resolve the symptoms,” Tsetis said.
Those factors include everything from hormones and genetics to stress and over-styling. The ingredients are tweaked for men and women. For example, the dihydrotestosterone inhibitor is reduced on the women’s product.
Dr. Neil Sadick, a New York dermatologist, voiced support for the Nutrafol approach. “Hair loss in men and women continues to be a major aesthetic concern, which appears to be increasing in prevalence. We continue to address the causes, which can either be hormonal, cell-based or genetic in nature. Nutrafol seems to be one of the most promising cosmeceuticals in the management of hair loss in this regard.”
The salon community is also seeing an increase in consumers looking to not only stymie hair loss, but to seek preventative measures. “As a hair colorist, it’s not only my job to transform my clients’ color but to ensure that their hair remains healthy throughout the process,” said celebrity colorist Sharon Dorram who recommends Nutrafol as a proactive step to reduce breakage and loss. “I think we sold out in just a few week,” she noted.
To keep the momentum building, Tsetis and Peralta said they will roll out an extensive collection of brand extensions next year.