Fun is the word Shari Hicks-Graham, M.D. uses to describe balancing her dermatology practice with creating a hair care line for dry scalp suffers with kinky, curly hair.
“When it’s something you are really into, you just find a way to make it work,” Hicks-Graham says.
A board certified dermatologist with a dozen years of experience, Hicks-Graham is the owner of practice Downtown Dermatology. She’s treated men, women and children, ages 0 to 100 and in doing so saw some common problems emerge.
“I see a lot of patients come to me with hair and scalp problems,” she says. “In many cases we can treat this condition with anti-fungal shampoos and products that help to minimize the flaking.”
However, many of these products are rooted in harsh chemicals that ravage more sensitive hair types like curly, thick, kinky or color-treated strands. Hicks-Graham wanted to create a product specifically for these delicate hair types to combat prolonged damage that could come from continued use of harsh products.
Once she saw the need, “I really did an audit of what was already on the market,” Hicks-Graham says. Most of the products directed at curlier, thicker hair types touted benefits like longer, shiner or more beautiful hair, but the products didn’t address dry, itchy scalps.
Next came technical research. How is shampoo made? What are the FDA regulations for a cosmetic product? Hicks-Graham knew it wasn’t a process she could tackle by herself, “I’m a clinician, not a chemist,” she says, so she partnered with a cosmetic chemist to develop several formulations. Once they found a formula they liked, “Then we decided to put our product to the real test,” Hicks-Graham says.
Being a dermatologist, if Hicks-Graham was going to put her name on something, she wanted to be confident it worked. About 35 participants with conditions that fell under dry, itchy scalp participated in a clinical trial run by a board certified dermatologist out of state. The study patients were surveyed afterward and then the dermatologist evaluated objectively – did the patients’ conditions improve?
“After four weeks they saw that yes, their symptoms had improved significantly,” Hicks-Graham says.
After four weeks, 84 percent of participants saw improvement, and after 12 weeks, 94 percent did.
“We felt like we really had something at that point,” Hicks-Graham continues.
LivSo offers three products: moisturizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner and moisturizing lotion. Designed to be used one to three times a week, the ingredient lists pull from the best of skin care for other parts of the body. The shampoo is sulfate-free and includes xylitol, a natural sugar with anti-fungal properties and glycolic acid which lifts away flakes and scale. The conditioner contains a host of ingredients that help strengthen, moisturize and detangle strands.
The lotion is unique in that, “It’s a lotion for the scalp that is applied after you shampoo and condition the hair,” Hicks-Graham says. Lightweight and easily absorbed, “What I like about it is that we included ceramides in the lotion which have found to be restorative to the skin barrier function.”
To see LivSo products on sale at her office, through Amazon and the LivSo website, has been a process over four years in the making.
“It really has been a lot of fun because I get constant feedback from my patients on a day-to-day basis as to how important of an issue this is,” Hicks-Graham says.
Her patients kept her encouraged throughout the process, knowing the end result she created was something they would benefit from.
For more information, visit livso.com.