Brooke Shields on the New Middle Age and Shaking Up Over-40 Hair Care

Her new brand, Commence, launches today.

<p>Pamela Hanson</p>

Pamela Hanson

Like many during the global pandemic, Brooke Shields was in search of community. So, she did something about it and started an online community for women over 40 to chat about all the changes that come with menopause. The iconic actress and model felt supported and seen by this group of positive women, all embarking on this new chapter of life together. But one major whitespace became clear to Shields—efficacious, masstige-level (i.e. premium but attainable) hair-care products for their changing needs.

"After really mining the community and gathering all the questions, the most predominant one that kept coming up was, "What do I do for my hair? How has your hair changed?" Shields tells InStyle. Many shared how their scalp got drier, their hair thinned, and their grays increased. "It was all of these things that didn't happen 10 years ago that I'm now having to address. But there was really nothing out there that was addressing it specifically within the beauty realm."

Thus, Commence, her new hair-care brand helping women over 40 care for and celebrate their hair, was born. The brand launches with three products: 2-in-1 Instant Shampoo, Root Serum, and  3-in-1 Leave-in Conditioner. The products are safe for color and chemically-treated hair and work on all hair types and textures. At the time of launch, each product costs $30 or less.

<p>Elliston Lutz</p>

Elliston Lutz

"What was important to me was having hero products," says Shields, "so not to start with the shampoo-and-conditioner route, as people are kind of married to theirs. But they have specific hero needs that I felt it was smart to target. We'll get to shampoo and conditioner once we earn that position of being experts in this field, in this department."

Shields partnered with chemist Mark Knitowski, who has worked on product innovation for Victoria's Secret for over two decades, to formulate the best-of-the-best products. Knitowski emphasizes that the brand's magic lies in its scalp-first approach.

"The philosophy was: from the scalp out, from root to tip," says Knitowski, the brand's head of research and development. How do we make sure your hair is healthier for a longer time and that it grows in stronger and fuller, so that you feel good when your hair looks good?"

Enter: The Commence Complex. "That's in every formula we do. It's four ingredients: alfalfa extract, açai stem cell, lactobacillus ferment, and quinoa peptide," says Knitowski. The alfalfa extract supports hair growth cycles, the açai provides antioxidant support, the ferment nourishes, soothes, and balances the scalp, and the quinoa volumizes and visibly thickens strands. The bio-ferment is key for maintaining and growing healthy hair.

"People talk about the microbiome on the skin. Very few people talk about microbiome on your scalp, but your scalp is skin," say Knitowski. "Through bio-fermentation, you're capturing the most efficacious and concentrated version [of the bacteria.] And when it goes into your scalp, it's really starting to balance your scalp and shield your microbiome so that your hair grows healthier."

The Commence Lineup

<p>Kevin Cremens</p>

Kevin Cremens

Instant Shampoo

To help keep hair fresh between washes, the Commence team created an Instant Shampoo (not "dry shampoo.") "I don't like the word dry," says Shields. "Once you hit a certain age, you really don't like that word. But there was no instant shampoo out on the market that wasn't an aerosol and didn't make my so hair crunchy that I was unable to get a brush through it." What makes this less drying than traditional powder shampoos is its use of a special, super-small form of hyaluronic acid.

"Hyaluronic acid comes in different size molecules," says Knitowski. "Most molecules won't penetrate your hair follicle or the scalp, so this one actually is the smallest hyaluronic acid you could use." In this form, the molecule is mixed with rice peptide powder to absorb excess oil while hydrating the scalp and strands.

Leave-In Conditioner

This Leave-In can be used on wet or dry hair to nourish and soften. "I use it all the time," says Shields. "This doesn't weigh my hair down and it softens it without making it limp. The smell is really fresh and clean. And you can reapply it—the hair just absorbs it without ever getting weighed down."

The conditioner increases shine, smoothes frizz, softens strands, and protects from heat damage. Additionally, "it really helps the hair growth from the root out," says Knitowski

Root Serum

This serum helps to calm and nourish the scalp while protecting the hair cuticle, all working towards increased hair density and thickness. "For the Root Serum, we use water kefir for bio-fermentation that maximizes the concentration of the materials, so you get the maximum efficiency and effectiveness," says Knitowski. "We're happy that it works on your microbiome. It creates that balance so your hair has a healthy surface to start to grow on."

<p>Pamela Hanson</p>

Pamela Hanson

Although anyone at any age can use Commence, Shields created the brand with women over 40 in mind. Shields wants women to remember that though this new stage in life may be unfamiliar, it's a time worth celebrating.

"I feel excited. I feel more comfortable in my skin and my body. I'm not comparing myself to other people. I feel young," says Shields. "We are at the beginning of a new phase. We're living longer—this is sort of more of a middle-age-ish now. And I wanted to make sure that we were supported in beauty and wellness with really effective products."

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Read the original article on InStyle.