RevitaLash Cosmetics is the award-winning line of lash, brow and hair focused cosmetics. After developing a product to help his ophthalmology patients, Dr. Michael Brinkenhoff, MD (“Dr. B”), realised there was an opportunity to help women feel better about themselves.
He created a product specifically designed to elevate, restore and enhance the health and natural beauty of your hair, specifically, eyelashes and brows.
The Last Fashion Bible sat down with Dr. B at a breast cancer fundraising event hosted by Revitalash New Zealand to talk about the inspiration behind his invention, why he was in New Zealand and how women can grow their lashes and brows.
What was your inspiration for developing RevitaLash?
Well, there are actually two parts to this story.
The first part is, my background is as a physician — an ophthalmologist — for 25-30 years. I practised ophthalmology, had a large number of patients who had cataracts, glaucoma. During that time, I came to understand that there were some medications that had interesting side effects. One of which, was a glaucoma medicine that people took once a day in their eyes. It was very safe. It had no serious side effects. But it did cause eyelashes to grow thick and long and dark. Now, that wasn’t any big secret. It was something that we knew about. I also understood the biochemistry of that product.
Part two is much more personal. My wife, Gayle, around the year 2000 was going through a particularly difficult treatment for breast cancer. There was a stem cell transplant and as a result of the side effects of the chemotherapy, not only did her hair fall out, but also her eyelashes fell out. She was not happy about it. She was especially upset about the eyelashes. She could cover her head with scarves, etc. But without her eyelashes, she just didn’t feel attractive. I learned just how precious and subtly important eyelashes are.
From my own knowledge, I knew that there were some biochemical molecules that were not drugs, but were available and could be used to help beautify her eyelashes again. I created a formula specifically for her that would beautify her eyelashes and revitalise them. She came up with the wonderful idea of the name for this. She said, ‘It’s like a RevitaLash!’
My entrepreneurial light then went on. Her friends noticed her beautiful eyelashes. They said, ‘We’d like to buy some of that from you, Doctor.’ I said, ‘Let me look into that and see if I can create a formula that would be something I could sell in my medical practice as an aesthetic benefit.
I spent probably a year or two looking into due diligence, talking to lawyers, talking to manufacturers, researching how to come up with the safest product possible using the most purified ingredients, something that would be effective for the general public. In my conversations with the attorneys, I discovered I could create a product that was a cosmetic product that would have a market even, an area, not just in my little medical practice area but also across the whole country and potentially the whole world. I said, ‘Let’s run with that, let’s get all the proper legal opinions,’ and we did that. We did all of our homework very well. We were very happy about that ‘cause we actually ended up creating an entirely new category of cosmetic product.
Early on, people didn’t really know what to make of this, and they were confused to some degree. We also got the attention of some multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies that said, ‘We’d like to make this into a drug’ rather than a cosmetic, and tried to put us out of business by various legal means — but we fought back.
Long story short, we’re now in 65 countries around the world, and we’re still the leading eyelash-conditioning cosmetic product. We’re very proud of our growth. Because of Gayle’s philanthropic side, because of her battle with breast cancer — we make a big investment in breast cancer education and research. There are a number of things I’m very excited about that we’re in the process of putting together.
So, the product is a derivative of the original glaucoma product?
It’s in the same category of molecule. But it’s its own unique molecule. We actually have a patent on that particular molecule. In my estimation, it is a molecule that has the safest biochemical profile for what we do.
There’s a ton of other products on the market that have tried to become what RevitaLash is, which promote eyelash growth and all that kind of stuff.
So, why should consumers consider RevitaLash over the alternatives?
First of all, some of them use inferior ingredients. Some of them use ingredients that are not as purified. Some of them just don’t work. They may make claims to work. But they’re not effective. We don’t make any claims, other than we will beautify, enhance attractiveness and appearance — those are the only claims that we make. But we greatly exceed expectations.
Why you are in New Zealand at the moment?
Our distributor throughout the islands here, Anne-Marie, has been with us for almost a decade and has just done a fantastic job of growing the market here. We have so much interest in our products here. Women everywhere want to look as beautiful as they can be. Annemarie has been very active with the breast cancer “Look Good Feel Better” program, as well as Pink Ribbon programs.
In fact, she just put together this wonderful fundraiser, where many people who have had breast cancer, or friends who have had breast cancer, all come together. In many ways — as both heartwarming and heartbreaking — I take the opportunity to get together and be a community, working towards a common goal. We wanted to be here to support Anne-Marie and also to let people know that our brand is here and that we believe in it.
Can you tell us a bit more about the involvement RevitaLash has with charities and what you’re working towards?
From the beginning as a company, we have chosen to take some of our profits and put them into research and educational initiatives. Part of my job is to target where that money goes. We don’t want to give a lump sum to some organisation that will decide where it goes. We don’t know what goes to overhead, etc. We want our money to go as quickly and directly to actual research that changes people’s lives.
Over the years, I’ve picked specific research projects, most of which are focused on getting to the next generation of treatment of cancer, beyond chemotherapy. As good as chemotherapy is — and as much as it’s helped many people — we know it’s not the end result, because it’s more of a generalised poison, which we hope kills cancer before it kills normal cells.
I’ve been focused on targeted therapies, such as immunotherapy. Or the big one we’re looking at right now is, how to target cells that are just about to turn into cancer cells. As soon as they make that leap, there’s a biochemical change that they undergo that we have been able to identify—or the researchers I am most involved with— and identify that point of the biochemical change and target it almost immediately before that cell begins to divide into future cancer cells. Not only is it a potential treatment for people who already have cancer cells, but also it’s a preventive. Because, as soon as a cell turns into a cancer cell, you whack it—get rid of it.
Other than RevitaLash, do you have any tips for women who want to grow the hair or the eyebrows?
Overall, just take good care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, meditate, exercise, eat well, live well — in addition to using RevitaLash, of course [laughs]! You know, just live a good life — mentally, spiritually, physically. Think beautiful, you know?
Where can we follow you?
I do have a Facebook page, but I almost never look at it. Some of my children have ‘friended’ me and some don’t want me to know what they’re doing.
What don’t you leave the house without?
That’s a great question! I have a list of about four or five things I go through… My cellphone is obviously one. Keys, a pen, my watch — all the things that sort of keep me connected and sometimes the things you just like to leave behind. If you go on a vacation, leave it all behind.
Anne-Marie interrupts: You know what I think you don’t leave the house without?
Your thoughtfulness. It’s true.
That’s very kind of you.
Stay tuned to The Last Fashion Bible Instagram for your chance to win a three month supply of RevitaLash for you and a friend! View the entire range of RevitaLash cosmetics and learn more about how you can help support the Look Good Feel Better Trust at revitalash.co.nz.