Interview with ReLuma founder February 2013

ReLuma is one of the first-ever game-changing skincare brands that Marta discovered since she started Truth in Aging in 2008. Marta says ReLuma’s flagship product, the Skin Illuminating Anti-Aging Serum plain-and-simply works – and even declared it “one of the best anti-aging potions that I have come across.” Products in the ReLuma line are based on human conditioned media (adipose stem cells), which contain groups of proteins that send signals to cells to repair wounds or, in the case of the Skin Illuminating Serum, deep wrinkles. Since then, ReLuma has expanded its line to include eye cream, lash and hair growth products, and, most recently, shampoo (which Marta says passed her drain test). The man behind ReLuma is microbiologist Habib Torfi, who is the founder and CEO of Invitrx Therapeutics in Irvine, California, makers of his stem cell products. Here, Habib shares with us ReLuma’s serendipitous start, what new products are in the works, and more.

Tell us about your background working with stem cells.

As a microbiologist specializing in human genetics, I worked at a lab that used adult stem cells derived from adipose tissue to engineer skin for burn patients. This lead to the development of a proprietary cosmetics product based on growth factors and cytokines (cell-signaling protein molecules) involved in wound healing. My partner decided to test the product and discovered that after six weeks his fine lines and wrinkles had been significantly reduced. It was an unexpected result yet it made perfect sense from a scientific standpoint as the stem cells were repairing “damaged” skin.

And this sparked the idea to branch out into anti-aging skincare?

Yes. In the beginning, we produced about 20 bottles of what is now known as our Skin Illuminating Anti-Aging Serum ($145/20ml) and distributed them to colleagues, friends, and family members. The response from this small trial was overwhelmingly positive. This gave my team encouragement go forward with producing a large volume of this product under Invitrx, my research and stem cell company. That was eight years ago.

How do ReLuma products work?

We all lose volume as we age, which manifests as fine lines and wrinkles. In ReLuma products, we use human-derived cytokines that stimulate your own fibroblasts (cells that synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen) to restore skin’s structural framework and give the outer dermal layers a smoother appearance.

What was the initial feedback on ReLuma like?

ReLuma was well received by the market from the onset.Once we produced 1,000 units of product, we gave samples to various partners and potential distributors. During our yearlong research trials, we turned to people who really understand skincare and have decades of experience in the industry. We found that 80% were satisfied with the product. Their feedback was extremely important to us and was the affirmation we needed to know that the stem cell technology we were using was truly effective. Skincare was waiting a long time for this infusion.

It was around this time that I reached out to Truth in Aging. I am grateful because Marta has been our number one supporter. She and her ecommerce team helped give us the platform we needed to extend our marketing efforts beyond the physician-dispensing sector.

Is the Skin Illuminating Serum still your best-seller?

Yes, the original serum is our darling product. Our second most popular product is the ReLuma Eye Cream ($95).

Which of your products do you use yourself?

I am like your average man – so I cannot say that I diligently use any anti-aging products. However, I do use ReLuma Shampoo ($65) religiously. I’ve used the product twice daily since we launched it two years ago and have noticed a significant reduction in shedding and some hair growth.

Can you tell us about any new product developments?

We listen to our customers, and they have been pushing for a body lotion. So we are working on formulating one that will provide skin-firming results. We are also in the process of testing eye drops, based on the same core technology of wound healing, to treat dry eye caused by damage to the ocular surface or cornea.