African-American Dermatologist Launches Hair Care System For Textured Hair

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(Dermatologist Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham)

Healthy scalp, healthy hair. As a dermatologist, Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham has noticed that many scalp conditions lead to hair loss. So she has developed a hair care system for curly, textured hair called LivSo. The product line includes shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizing lotion that restores the scalp’s moisture giving textured strands extra layers of protection, while exfoliating and removing flakes and strengthening hair follicles. LivSo uses such ingredients including coconut oil, glycolic acid, hydrolyzed oat protein and Abyssinian oil in the three-step hair care system.

LivSo’s Moisturizing Shampoo, Moisturizing Conditioner, and Moisturizing Lotion are available for purchase on Amazon and on LivSo’s website.

Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham recently told TNJ the details behind the line.

TNJ.com: What prompted you to launch your company?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: I was prompted to start LivSo by a clear need for products to soothe dry itchy scalp for individuals with curly, kinky or textured hair. I recognized that the routines that people used to manage this issue were very lengthy and often ineffective. The prescription products often dried out textured, curly or kinky hair, requiring people to find other ways to moisturize their hair in the process. The over-the-counter products were often ineffective and sometimes irritating, as well.

TNJ.com: why do you feel your products stand out?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: Our products stand out first because they are made with high-quality ingredients, and also because they are reasonably priced. We feel that comparable products would be offered at a more premium price, but our goal was to bring a high-quality product to the market that would be accessible to many.

Second, our products have been clinically tested. The study examined individuals with dry, itchy scalp over a twelve-week usage period. Those enrolled in the study were observed at baseline, at 4-, 8-, and 12-week time points by a board-certified dermatologist who examined their scalp and monitored their progress. The study participants also completed usage questionnaires. By 4 weeks, 84 percent of people said that their dry itchy scalp had improved, and at 12 weeks, 94 percent of people reported the same. The independent dermatologist also saw significant improvement in the participants. These results were extremely compelling and drove us to bring this product to market.

TNJ.com: How has being a dermatologist helped you create this product line?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: My training as a Board-Certified Dermatologist has helped me to develop these products. I speak with at least 10-15 patients every day about issues relating to dry itchy scalp. I hear about what patients have used successfully, and I also what doesn’t work at all. I understand the nuances of the various scalp conditions and have experience with forecasting the prognosis for these conditions.

Equally important for context, I understand what routines people have in the textured hair community because I am a member of that community. I am concerned that choice of suboptimal products unhealthy hairstyles often lead to an exacerbation of conditions that lead to chronic hair loss (alopecia). Scarring alopecia can be devastating and permanent. If we can help make life easier for people with early scalp irritation, hopefully we can help prevent these more serious problems later.

At the same time, I have a respect for the variety of hair types and cultural norms that are present for all people with various hair types. I simply didn’t feel that our product offerings served the variety of needs of the patients that I saw and wanted to do something to change that.

TNJ.com: What are some common scalp problems?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: Some of the more common scalp conditions that I see are seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis, tinea capitis (ringworm), alopecia areata, female pattern hair loss, traction alopecia, frontal fibrosing alopecia, lupus, and the all too common central scarring alopecia (central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia).

TNJ.com: What made you want to jump into entrepreneurism?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: I decided to take a leap into entrepreneurism for many reasons, not the least of which is because of the support of my husband, Christopher Graham. He has taught me a great deal about investing in ideas and having the grit to push forward to figure out tough problems. He came from a family steeped in entrepreneurs and brings that spirit into our daily lives. I also firmly believe that we stand on the shoulders of our foreparents. My parents and grandparents worked hard to establish a firm footing for us to move forward with our goals. I felt compelled to be fearless and do what would help people.

TNJ.com: What have been some major challenges?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: The biggest challenges for me settle around technology. Ironically, much of our LivSo launch relies on the internet for sales and marketing. However, I find social media to be a bit unnatural for me, so I am learning to accept it as my new norm! I was growing my family when social media developed in large scale, so I missed most of the initial adoption period 10 years ago. Since then, I have been working to catch up and make it part of my day to day routine. I really appreciate the power of the social network and am enjoying the process now.

TNJ.com: What would you say has been your biggest business lesson?
Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham: My biggest business lesson is to always be prepared.