Jennifer Aniston is known for more than just her on-screen charisma and comedic timing. Women across the globe look to the A-lister on all things hair ever since she wore a layered cut dubbed "The Rachel" on the '90s TV sitcom "Friends."
Naturally, the star has since been approached by numerous hair care brands to promote their products. However, the actress hadn't endorsed one in more than a decade until a small hair care company called Living Proof came calling.
"When they approached me, I was a little hesitant because a lot of hair products have approached me in the past. And it sort of just never seemed right," said Aniston, who is a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola's Smartwater and Johnson & Johnson skin care brand Aveeno. "And after the explanation of what is behind it, the science behind it, I got extremely excited."
Living Proof boasts a team of award-winning scientists from MIT, Harvard and Merck who applied the principles they use in their medical research to hair care. Their first task was to tackle frizz according to co-founder Dr. Robert S. Langer.
"So, silicone is what's currently used in pretty much every anti-frizz product and we just took a much more fundamental look at it and said 'What causes frizz?'" said Langer, who is also the head of the Langer Lab at MIT and was recently awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama.
"What causes frizz is moisture, so other materials—polymers can keep moisture out better than silicones and actually would be lighter than silicones [and] it could cover hair better than silicone. When we did this, we came up with a totally different material called a PolyfluoroEster and that works a lot better," he explained.
Aniston can attest to the results. After using Living Proof's patented No Frizz products for a couple of months, the actress was so impressed she became more than just the face of the brand. She bought an equity stake in the company.
"It's kind of humorous because I have nothing but troubled hair. And when it's, you know, not managed, it has its frizz moments," revealed Aniston. "And I also thought, 'This is a fun opportunity to sort of enter into a business and be a part of something that I think women [will] really appreciate.'"
This celebrity endorsement and partnership could ultimately be a game changer for the small start-up, which was seed funded with just $1 million by Boston venture capital firm Polaris Partners. "It was a tremendous coup for us," said Living Proof CEO Jill Beraud. "I mean, obviously for us, Jennifer kind of represents everything we stand for, beauty and brains, kind of that unique alchemy."
Living Proof, which went to market in 2008, can now be found in more than 1,000 retail locations in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. These include brick-and-mortar stores Sephora, Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom as well as the company's website LivingProof.com. The product lines they sell are No Frizz, Full, Restore and Style Lab, with prices ranging from $10 to $42.
Beraud sees Living Proof becoming a major player in the ultracompetitive $50 billion global hair care products industry and said it isn't ruling out an IPO. "That's absolutely an option. We're doing really well now. I mean, since Jennifer joined, we're actually on track to double the business. So we have very big aspirations to grow this into one of the most respected and largest independent beauty companies."
The company already has plans to expand beyond hair. Langer, who is known for his research in creating new skin as well as treatments for cancer, said Living Proof is developing a skin cream to get rid of wrinkles. It's expected to launch in 2014.
Projections and patents aside, Aniston said she made her decision to invest on gut instinct. "I love the company. I really do." She added, "I don't want to stand behind something that I haven't honestly used and feel is actually giving [women] what [they're] asking for."
_ By CNBC's Marqui Mapp