Meet the Louisville doctor who founded the ReVive cosmetics line
Dr. Gregory Bays Brown never intended to become the founder of RéVive, a multimillion-dollar global luxury skincare line. The Louisville surgeon was originally interested in finding a way to speed wound healing for his patients in the hospital’s burn unit.
As a young doctor in the 1980s, Brown, a graduate of Oldham County High School and the University of Louisville, began researching bioengineered molecules that could boost wound healing in a lab. from the University of Louisville, then to Emory University and Vanderbilt University. .
“It was in the early days of biotechnology when we were able to first manufacture high grades of epidermal growth factor and study its effect when used topically on burns,” Brown told the Courier Journal. “Through clinical studies, we were able to show that we could speed up the healing of burns.”
The birth of RéVive Skincare
The success of these clinical studies led Brown to consider other applications for epidermal growth factor, or EGF.
“At this point, I was back in Louisville with my own plastic surgery practice and had the idea that maybe growth factors would stabilize or reverse the signs of aging,” Brown said. “We had already shown that we could stimulate the healing of burns, but to stabilize aging, we must increase cell renewal.”
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Would EGF, which has been proven to speed up wounds, also be effective as an anti-aging agent? To find out, Brown conducted a 60-day study of volunteers in Louisville. He added the growth factors to the cream and had the volunteers use a placebo cream on one forearm and the growth factor cream on the other arm.
There was no actual product at this point, Brown simply dissolved the growth factor into her mother Elizabeth Arden’s “Visible Difference” skincare cream. In order to market the concept, Brown offered small jars of the concoction to his patients and friends.
“One of those patients happened to be a friend of the man who ran all the Neiman Marcus stores,” Brown said. “He said if we made the cream commercially he would put it in his stores.”
This connection turned out to be Brown’s luck and the birth of RéVive.
“We were able to show that we could stimulate cell turnover and improve the appearance of the skin,” he said. “But at the time, I didn’t know anything about cosmetics or the skincare industry. I was just a medical geek, so lawyers at the University of Louisville suggested I patent the concept of growth factors reversing the signs of aging.”
In 1997, RéVive launched with a single product, its Moisturizing Renovating Cream, sold exclusively with Neiman Marcus. The nighttime retexturizing moisturizer quickly became a fan favorite and catapulted the brand into the luxury skincare spotlight. Three years later, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and other high-end stores and boutiques had added the Louisville-based product to their shelves.
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“I was still practicing medicine and running this cottage industry skincare line from my office with everyone attending to take orders, package the product and ship it out,” Brown said. “RéVive was growing rapidly. In fact, in the early 2000s, we were making close to $18 million a year. That’s when I decided to quit surgery and focus full time on the skincare line.”
Though considered tiny compared to big international cosmetics brands like L’Oreal or Estée Lauder, Brown’s RéVive has expanded to include 40 products and brings in nearly $100 million a year.
Inspired by research conducted by Brown in Louisville, RéVive products today are formulated with bio-renewal technology, which refers to ethically created, skin-identical epidermal growth factor peptides.
“It’s always been really important to me that we base our product on science,” he said. “Science mimics the process of skin renewal to look younger and help skin recreate its structural integrity.”
The Louisville-born beauty product is sold in the United States, Europe, China and the Middle East with plans to expand into South America and beyond.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, RéVive closed its Louisville brick-and-mortar store which was located in the NuLu neighborhood. Still, Brown says sales remain strong thanks to an online presence at Bays Beauty Boutique, which includes consultations with a RéVive representative who has been with the company since the early days of the product’s launch.
“We’ve become a global commodity with our roots in Louisville,” said Brown, who divides his time between a farmhouse in Goshen, a condo in the Highlands neighborhood and New York City. “When I was younger working in the burns unit, I never imagined I would be 70 and do this. But it’s a lot of fun and I still have a lot of stuff to do because 25 years have passed quickly.”
Find RéVive products at baysboutique.com.
Reach Features reporter Kirby Adams at [email protected]