How Two Harvard Scientists Are Solving Female Hair Loss

revela Harvard scientists solving female hair loss

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A newly discovered ingredient could help re-grow your hair.

Hair isn’t just hair.

Our hair is an important part of our identities, and when it’s not thriving, it can feel like a part of us is missing. So when your strands start thinning or disappearing, it can be truly upsetting. You might try to conceal it with a hat, use endless products to create volume — or worse, avoid seeing people entirely. 

Hair loss in women is a complex phenomenon — it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why more and more hair stays behind on your brush over time. Everything from genetics, to aging, to a poor diet, to stress can accelerate the trend. (It’s even listed as a side effect of certain medications.) 

“It’s normal for our hair to thin as we age,” says Jenny Liu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “With joints, you have joint degeneration; your body just can’t keep up. Hair loss is similar to that.” 

While shedding up to 150 hair strands a day is natural, noticing a tangible decrease in the fullness of your hair can lead you down an endless rabbit hole, trying any product that promises to help your locks grow back. 

The problem is that a lot of those pills, creams, and potions aren’t backed by science and don’t hold up their end of the bargain, results-wise. (Since the ’80s, there’s only been one over-the-counter topical medication — minoxidil — that’s been approved by the FDA.)

Historically, female hair loss has been an understudied scientific challenge — until recently, when two Harvard research scientists decided to tackle the issue head-on.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Evan Zhao, Ph.D., a chemical engineer, and bioengineer David Zhang, Ph.D., were working together at Harvard on new drug discovery projects to treat cancer. When the lab closed down due to Covid, lightning struck the two research scientists. 

“We were at home thinking about how there are all these new techniques people use to discover really effective medicines,” says Dr. Zhao. “And isn’t it kind of sad that we have all these new recently discovered cancer drugs, but we’ve been using the same kind of supplements for hundreds of years? We thought we could do better with what we know now.” 

At first, the two brainstormed ways to develop a new molecule that could help muscles grow, since they both love to work out. But Dr. Zhao’s wife suggested they search for a solution that could help make an even broader impact. 

“Haircare was a space where, if you look into it a bit more, you’ll notice that everybody uses the same ingredients,” says Dr. Zhao. “Especially for women’s hair loss — there are two drugs and one of them is from the 1950s and the other is from 1982. There hadn’t been anything new and targeted developed in a long time.” 

The two Ivy-League-trained scientists found their mission.

They joined forces to co-found Revela, which creates products that promote hair regrowth and hair follicle health using a breakthrough ingredient — ProCelinyl — that they developed using biotechnology and artificial intelligence. 

Revela’s Growth Concentrate and Hair Revival Serum — both of which are applied daily directly to the scalp — promote hair growth in as little as six weeks with no shedding. The company also developed a Brow Serum to promote fuller brows. 

How was ProCelinyl created?

“Everything in your body is made up of molecules; sugar is a molecule, just like caffeine,” explains Dr. Zhao. “In its purest form, a molecule has a certain shape and chemical structure that gives it its function.” By experimenting with different molecules on hair follicles, the team was able to zero in on their patented new molecule, which was rigorously tested for efficacy and safety.

“ProCelinyl is an ingredient where our artificial intelligence models pieced together whether certain formulas would be good or bad for hair loss, and it selected all the elements that would be good,” says Dr. Zhao. “We found a way to help enhance natural hair follicles by strengthening the underlying papilla cells — which make up the hair — to make them more resistant to factors that might kill or shrink the follicle. It’s very different from any other drug or potential solution on the market.” 

A clinical trial studied the effects of using ProCelinyl for hair growth on women aged 25 to 65 across six weeks. More than 80 percent of women saw an increase in hair growth and thickness; 97 percent saw improvements in their hair’s overall appearance. 

“When you experience hair loss, the ‘evil forces’ in your body are winning against the ‘good’ forces,” says Dr. Zhao. The “good” forces are healthy nutrients that promote hair growth and your hair’s natural growth cycle; “evil” forces can be stress, an unhealthy diet, hormonal changes, and a wide range of diseases and other factors that allow for hair loss. “What our serum does is give the ‘good’ ones a boost,” he explains.

Revela works faster than other solutions on the market

It was also designed to be safely used in tandem with other over-the-counter products like Rogaine, Nutrafol, or Propecia, Dr. Zhao explains. 

“Most traditional hair remedies take over nine months of daily use before you see any results,” says Daniel Sugai, MD, a Harvard-trained, board-certified dermatologist. “Revela’s serum can yield results in just six weeks, which is a game-changer.”

Dr. Sugai has recommended Revela to his patients, friends, and family, and even used it himself. “It’s shown to be not only effective, but safe,” he says. “I’ve experienced no issues with scalp irritation, nor have I experienced a period of temporary shedding, which is something we see with other traditional therapies for hair loss.”

Beyond figuring out a way to treat hair loss in women, Dr. Zhao has another mission he’s working toward. “Every brand says they’re science-backed. They say they have ‘new technology,’ but that’s not always true. People’s trust in science has deteriorated,” says Dr. Zhao. “We’d like to restore that trust with our company. We want to make sure that people feel like it’s safe to listen to scientists again — and that when a company says they’re scientifically backed, they are.” 

To learn more about Revela and to shop the products, visit their website here.  

The information provided on this site isn’t intended as medical advice, and shouldn’t replace professional medical treatment. Consult your doctor with any serious health concerns.