Like many current and former male models, Giorgos Tsetis has a thick, luscious head of hair (which he currently wears long to really drive that point home). But it wasn’t always that way. Anyone who’s watched Zoolander® even once knows that the lives of the ridiculously good looking often come with some secrets — and Tsetis’s secret was that he was losing his hair.
This is not a unique issue for any man. By age 35, about two-thirds of American men report signs of hair loss (that number jumps to 85 percent by age 50). What is unique about Tsetis’ position was that his hair was literally his moneymaker. Without it, his career as a male model was in jeopardy. “I was on Propecia® for about nine years and suffered tremendously from some of the hurdles and side effects [associated with the drug], like decreased libido,” he says. “But every time I stopped using it, I would start losing my hair again. It’s obviously very concerning for a young man.”
Propecia is a prescription drug that may increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. It is not intended for use by women or children. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing should not handle crushed or broken tablets. Talk to your doctor to see if it’s the right treatment option for you.
He “hit a wall,” as he says, because he had no other alternatives besides choosing between a lifetime of possible sexlessness or becoming bald. Other remedies, like more basic vitamins and minerals, and even other FDA-approved treatments, didn’t work. “There wasn’t anything out there that was healthy and effective — everything that worked was associated with side effects,” he says.
So, like many entrepreneurs before him, he decided to fix the problem. His first step was to talk with his friend Roland Peralta, who was going through his own struggles — but instead of hair loss, he was dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Peralta had recently found that an extract of turmeric, called curcumin, can reduce inflammation in the body, so, as an alternative to prescription drugs, he started on a self-prescribed regimen. “Within three months, my symptoms were gone,” he says.
Before Peralta started taking it, “I thought I was going bald, but then I connected the dots,” he says, which is why Tsetis came to him for help. “I trusted Roland and opened up to him,” says Tsetis. “We had a casual conversation about how we could help each other.” What neither of them knew was that their conversation would turn into a business partnership. From that moment on, “we spent a year and a half side-by-side, seven days a week, elbow-to-elbow, researching and diving in,” laughs Peralta.
And thus Nutrafol® ($79) was born, a natural supplement aimed at what the partners call “hair wellness.” The idea was to treat hair loss holistically — not by attacking the hair itself, necessarily, but by treating underlying issues inside the body, namely inflammation, which could be exacerbating the problem. “The body is multifactorial,” says Tsetis. While it is true that hair loss in many people is genetic, the founders believe that your environment and your health can also contribute to hair loss. “You can [improve] your microbiome, you can target your liver, you can take vitamins and minerals. There is a lot you can do,” he adds.
As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Sitting across from Tsetis and Peralta in their huge, shiny new office on Madison Avenue in New York City, it’s clear they were onto something. Last year, the company received a $35 million investment to continue their exponential year-over-year growth, but they’ve also invested heavily in actually studying their philosophy. “We’ve invested $4 million in clinical research,” says Tsetis. “One study is published already, three more are coming.” Nutrafol also recently introduced boosters to its core supplement, specific pills to target issues like gut health and stress, which can have a negative effect on hair.
These supplements build upon ingredients already in the core supplement, like adaptogens for stress management, in order to address specific concerns and make the general supplement work better. Things like the liver and stress hormones “play a major role in down-regulating the hair growth cycle,” says Tsetis, so the Nutrafol team spent a significant amount of time identifying the specific systems that would be the most important to target.
Along with the supplements comes a hair mineral test, which customers can take at home or in-person at the Nutrafol offices. A hair sample is analyzed and the customer is able to see the mineral levels in their hair as they relate to their body overall (and in doing so, get advice on which specific boosters are best for them). My own hair test arrived two weeks after naturopath Melissa Anzelone, ND, snipped some strands off my head in the Nutrafol office. The results showed a high amount of aluminum, an average level of stress, and evidence that my gut and liver were having a hard time processing some hormones. Her prescription: switch to natural deodorant and try Nutrafol liver support and the digestive enzyme.
To Tsetis and Peralta, this new customizable way forward reflects the evolving needs of their customers. “The whole industry is moving forward and the consumer is becoming more educated,” he says. “They want to understand why they should take something and how it works. So we always take a very educational approach.” Even with these new developments (and more on the way), the grounding philosophy of Nutrafol has never changed. “Our biggest priority is how we can continue to support our clients on their hair journey,” says Peralta.
When it comes to their own wellness, Tsetis and Peralta are predictably focused on a holistic view. It doesn’t mean, however, that they only stick to all-natural products they cook up in their kitchens. Read on for the complete wellness regimens of the Nutrafol founders.
Stick With the Classics
It’s a surprise to no one that the founders of a natural supplement company like Nutrafol are fans of natural deodorant, but instead of using a new, trendy brand, they favor a retro classic. “I’m using the [nakd.] Thai Crystal Deodorant® Stick,” says Peralta. “It’s the old school kind you see at the health food store. It works like a charm.”
Luxury Is Not a Dirty Word
When it comes to skincare, however, the two founders differ. “I’m really bad with skincare,” says Tsetis. Peralta, on the other hand, is on the other side of the spectrum. “I was using $20 vitamin C creams, but after entering the aesthetic space, I’m only using designer luxury skincare,” he says. “My new favorite is Augustinus BaderTM The CreamTM, because I found out it was discovered as wound healing technology that they applied to skincare. My skin looks so much better today than it did a year ago because of that switch.”
Water, Water, Everywhere
Testis’ biggest secret isn’t something he puts on his body, but what he puts in it. It was the 2018 documentary The Devil We Know that really opened Tsetis’ eyes to the possible harmful effects of chemicals in our water. “I think that we are not drinking enough water as humans, but if you have to drink a lot, you better drink the best you can,” he says. He now uses a Life Ionizers® MXL-7TM, a hulking contraption that not only filters and removes all chemicals and additives from water, but raises the pH balance to alkaline levels as well. “It hydrates you in a very different way,” he says. Bonus: you’re not drinking out of unsustainable plastic water bottles.
“I’m huge on sleep,” says Tsetis. “The better people sleep, the more productive they are and the more we can contribute to the world.” But living in New York City poses a real threat to the possibility of adequate sleep, which is why Tsetis says one of the best investments he ever made was the HunterDouglas® Blackout Shades he had installed in his bedroom. The shades help block out nearly all light (and sound), ensuring a good night’s sleep. He also has a strict “no screens after 10 p.m.” rule in his house, and if he does have to look at one, he wears blue light blocking glasses. He is a believer in reishi mushroom tea before bed for optimal sleep, and sometimes takes a bath spiked with olive oil to help unwind.
Be Particular About Oils
In addition to pouring olive oil in a nighttime bath (extra, extra virgin, of course), Tsetis is a “big fan of massages,” but favors olive oil instead of nameless massage oil. “I always ask, ‘What are you putting on my body?’ and ask to look at the bottle,” he says. When he’s not getting a weekly massage from a private masseur, he favors Great Jones® Spa and the upstate New York enclave Glenmere Mansion℠. For the record, Peralta is equally particular about the kind of oil used on his body during a massage, but he favors coconut oil, not olive. “Never on my face, but I love it on my body,” he says.
The Scent of Natural
The two founders’ relationship with fragrance is understandably complicated, since they’ve built a company based on natural remedies and cutting out toxicity. “I used to wear Viktor&Rolf® SpicebombTM — I would never leave my house unless I sprayed myself,” says Peralta. “But I had a couple of things come up in my hair mineral analysis test — odd metals that I didn’t know where they were coming from — so I stopped using it.” Tsetis, however, is a fan of the “very unique, very natural” fragrance brand Strange Invisible Perfumes®, which is handmade in Venice, California. “They even have a collection based on your zodiac,” he says.
Bringing up the topic of soaps to two homeopathic experts is the quickest way to get some strong opinions hurled your way. “I stopped buying all the chemicals and only use organic soaps like Dr. Bronners® and Mrs. Meyers®,” says Peralta. “I keep it simple and super natural.” Tsetis does, too — and even threw out all the cleaning supplies in his house with a whiff of a chemical. “We don’t live in the age of Clorox® or Ajax® any longer,” he says. “Why would we use them when we have friendlier detergents? It even applies to my dishwashing liquids.”
Get The Glow
Apart from his luxury skincare, Peralta is also a fan of Hydrafacials®, which he gets at Skinney MedSpa℠ in New York City. “I want to get a facial to disconnect for an hour, squeeze my blackheads, and get a nice glow,” he says. “For the record, I love a Hydrafacial.”
The PRP Plunge
Neither founder has started to get into medical aesthetics like injectables or lasers (yet), but Tsetis has tried PRP, if only to find out what all the fuss was about. “I got it twice because I wanted to experience how the industry was moving. It’s natural in the sense that it’s coming from your own body, but it’s a commitment,” he says. He hasn’t gotten more since his initial trials, but never say never.
As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
IV On Call
“I’ve had a few IV treatments at my home when I’ve had a cold or something,” says Peralta. “I am back on my feet that day.” Tsetis is a fan of IV treatments like The I.V. Doc® too, particularly before big presentations or events when he’s not feeling his best.
Get Up, Get Out
If the dedicated meditation rooms in the new Nutrafol office is any indication, both Tsetis and Peralta are fans of the practice. “I use an app called Insight Timer®,” says Tsetis (Peralta uses the same app), “but my meditation is usually mantra-based. I went to a three-day class called Ziva® Meditation, taught by a woman named Emily Fletcher, and she was the first one that was able to convince me to actually meditate, because she linked it to performance.”
Peralta is also a fan of yoga (the two “zen” rooms in their office can double as private yoga studios when needed), and both founders are constantly active, whether it’s boxing and running (in the case of Tsetis) or more extreme sports, like the kitesurfing they recently did together (“I didn’t quite kill it,” laughs Peralta). Regardless of what they do, it’s always in the name of longevity. “Sitting is the new smoking,” as Peralta says.
The Fast Lane
More than anything else, Peralta is a fan of intermittent fasting (his eyes blaze when the subject comes up). “It’s so exciting to know that the body has the capacity to heal itself through intermittent fasting,” he says. “There is real biology behind the technique and what actually happens in the body.” He tends to fast at least one full day per week, and then for 16 hours every other day. He’s not the only one: “Roland inspired me [to fast],” says Tsetis.
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