To mark the brand's 50th anniversary, Romain Alès, son of Patrick Alès - founder of PHYTO Paris in 1969, reveals everything you need to know about the 100% botanical haircare brand. Through crisp anecdotes and explanations that go off the beaten track, he underlines why Phyto Paris is unique and has been for 50 years already!
Hello Romain! First of all, how would you describe the PHYTO Paris brand in 3 words?
Hello to you! 3 words at the origin of the brand, created by my father: "health and beauty of hair by the plants". Health and beauty are on an equal footing for us, it is also important that a hair is strong and healthy, and that it is shiny and supple! Moreover, one cannot go without the other, in my opinion. Plants are PHYTO's translation into Greek: it proves that they are at the heart of our approach!
Our thinking does not start from marketing, but from the power of plants and scientific knowledge: they bring us a reflection, this reflection leads us to a result and this result leads us to say to ourselves - "what if we put it in a tube?"
PHYTO has never been a brand that creates something new, just to say: "We are looking for something new". Instead, we have always tried to give the hair quality products, both for the scalp and for the person who uses it. Originally, my father was a hairdresser and his idea was to create products that did not damage hairdresser's hands, nor the scalp of clients - because, at the time, the use of chemicals was huge!
Where do you see PHYTO Paris in the next 50 years?
I don't know at all! Nature always brings us huge surprises. Our thinking does not start from marketing, but from the power of plants and scientific knowledge: they bring us a reflection, this reflection leads us to a result and this result leads us to say to ourselves - "what if we put it in a tube?" - In other words, our laboratory has its first say on new haircare launches.
Patrick Alès in his hair salon in Paris - Circa 1970
PHYTO Paris products are made from plants. Can you explain why plant-based products are more beneficial than products made with chemical ingredients?
Humans lived on earth for and with nature. Chemical processes were created afterward. For example, your hand is completely clean, if you put it in bleach, 5 minutes later it will be white, damaged, wrinkled. You do the same thing with essential oils, your hand will be colored with the color of the essential oil. The difference is that if you take a blood test afterward, there will be no trace of bleach in your blood while there will be traces of essential oils! This clearly shows that the human body recognizes its fusion with nature. When I tell you this today in the highly current trend of organic products, it makes sense. Except that PHYTO started talking about it as early as 1969.
If we talk about the quality of our hair, its strength, its beauty, plastic cannot be good. Try to put a plastic bag over your head and you will see that you won't live long!
In 1982, my father used to say: "as long as the fashion of plants doesn't kill the fashion". Fashion has caught up with us, it will change one day. But PHYTO won't change. If you compare the composition of plant-based products with those based on chemical ingredients, you can see, for example, that 80% of shampoos on the market contain a silicone base. We must admit that works wonderfully for what you expect from a shampoo: soft and shiny hair. But it's not good for our body. If we talk about the quality of our hair, its strength, its beauty, plastic cannot be good. Try to put a plastic bag over your head and you will see that you won't live long!
Do you have a concrete example of how plants inspire you?
At PHYTO, we always start with plants. Let's take the case of the first hair spray that was created, called at the time the Blue Phytolaque. Men and women needed it. During one of my father's botanical researches, he came across a tree: Phytolacca americana. The sap from this tree is sticky. Animals make balls of this glue, to build their nests. Initially, it was mixed with alcohol to make it as dispersible as possible: alcohol being lighter than air, there is no propellant gas.
Thank you Romain for this enriching meeting! In short, we can say that PHYTO Paris's goal is to offer your hair the best of plants, and we are eager to continue to discover their secrets!