Jennifer Aniston Talks Living Proof’s Forthcoming ‘Style Lab’
We sat down with the co-owner and actress to find out more about the salon/testing-lab hybrid born out of MIT.
Jennifer Aniston’s hair is gorgeous. On this rainy spring day in Cambridge, her hair is smooth, full, effortless. But you knew that already. In fact, she’s been known for her hair for more than two decades. So it was big news in 2012 when she decided to not only be a spokeswoman for a small, Cambridge-based hair care company called Living Proof, but also to invest in the company and become a co-owner. She clearly wouldn’t trust just any products on her famous noggin.
But it was the science behind it all that intrigued her most because Aniston isn’t the only star on board.
Bob Langer, the acclaimed MIT Institute professor and biotech inventor who has more than 800 patents and a Presidential Medal of Technology and Innovation, realized that most beauty products are ineffective due to their “off-the-shelf” ingredients and lack of permutation. In 2004, he teamed up with Jon Flint and Amir Nashat, partners in the Waltham- and Innovation District-based Polaris Venture Partners, to create Living Proof with a team of scientists from outside the beauty category (pharma, biotech, and medicine).
“Here are [these scientists] out there trying to cure heart disease and cancer and then all of a sudden they want to cure women’s hair disasters,” Aniston says with a smile. That’s why she sat down with Boston Friday to talk about Living Proof’s new venture, the Living Proof Style Lab, a beauty test kitchen and retail concept space that serves as a consumer-facing extension of the company’s Cambridge labs.
Langer says the company’s goal is to challenge conventional wisdom to solve the toughest beauty problems. “Using technology originating from MIT and Harvard, we invent and patent new molecules that have never been used in beauty before,” he says.
The space (see rendering below) is scheduled to open late-August or early-September. Consumers will receive personalized hair “diagnoses” by appointment only that will analyze the condition of their hair with a wash, dry, and styling with both existing and not-yet-launched Living Proof products. Basically, the new “test kitchen” is a way for scientists, stylists, and the public to come together to test new products in an upscale, retail environment.
Below, Jennifer Aniston on design, yoga, and what she really thought of sporting one of the most famous haircuts of all time:
[MM] The space was designed by Boston-based Hacin + Associates, but I was told you had a lot of input in the design. What did you work on exactly?
[JA] Well, they showed me the materials, the floor plan, and the layout and design, and I felt it was a bit on the side of being a science lab. It was very much metals and lacquers and I sort of suggested bringing in reclaimed woods and, you know, old materials mixed in with a more modern, mid-century kind of feel. It didn’t feel cozy or like a place where you’d want to go and get pampered or play.
Do you really use the products?
What do you use most often?
Well, the Restore I love because of all the wear and tear [my hair] gets. I also love the No Frizz. Also, Perfect Hair Day came about with [my hair stylist] Chris [McMillan] and I saying, “We’ve spent 25 years in a hair chair together, so the amount of mixing and the alchemy that we’ve done is a lot. It’s like, take a little paste from here, take a serum from here, let’s do a beach spray, and then here ya go.” Then, of course, the Restore Mask is what I use every Sunday, especially in the summer. It’s great to put in your hair when you’re sitting by the pool before you go into chlorine because it will protect from the damage.
There are a lot of pictures out there of you at pools.
I’m tanorexic. But we should all use at least SPF 50.
You’ve been known for your hair for more than two decades. Of all the different hairstyles, which is your favorite? Please don’t say the “Rachel,” please don’t say the “Rachel.”
The “Rachel” became the bane of my existence, and that was so funny because it was so hard to style! I was like “Great, so now what do I do?” I have this ’fro or I have to go to you every day, Chris [McMillan], to help me style it. So it became a battle against me, my hair brush, and a blow dryer, just at odds. My favorite haircut is always just simple, long layers. Just long and easy. I don’t like “hairdos.” That’s why even when I’ve cut it short just to have fun and change it up, I usually go back to what feels really me.
Right now your hair is brunette and shorter, just above the shoulders. Are you going back to your signature blonde soon?
Well, I just wrapped a movie two nights ago, and this was just for the job. So yeah, I didn’t have any time to go back. And I don’t know if I want to go back now because this is sort of my natural color.
If there was one thing you wish you knew at 30, or one thing that you wish you could tell your 30-year-old self, what would it be?
I mean, where do I begin? Don’t sweat the small stuff. You won’t care as much as you think. As much as you care right now, as much as you worry… worry is such a waste of time. Just enjoy where you are. That’s the thing: as you get older, you start to realize, “God, why didn’t I take more time to enjoy where I was, as opposed to trying to get to the next destination?” Those destinations start to creep up really quickly.
Well said. I always say I’d tell my 20-year-old self to wear a bikini every day.
Yeah, I didn’t wear bikinis in my 20s. I didn’t start to get into shape where I thought I could wear a bikini until I was a little older.
That’s surprising because you’ve been known for your fit physique for a long time. I’ve read that you practice yoga often. Is that true?
I’ve been practicing yoga let’s say… almost 10 years now.
How often do you practice?
Like four or five times a week.
What type of yoga?
Mandy [Ingber], my friend for 25 years, is also my yoga teacher. She’s also a spin instructor. She’s everything to me. We do a combination of spin and yoga. She does a combination of all different kinds of yoga and the calisthenics, so she mixes it up. Some days we heat up the room depending on what we feel like, but we just mix it up. We’ll do 40 minutes of spin, then 30 minutes of yoga. It’s a really great work out.
The Living Proof Style Lab will be located at 301 Binney Street (entrance on the corner of Fulkerson and Rogers Streets) in Cambridge; sign up for the wait list here; for more information, visit livingproof.com.