Yahn Alès, PHYTO Paris
PHYTO is a big player in the global haircare industry, and Yahn Alès, director of marketing at PHYTO Paris is constantly on the move. He shares with Destin Tay how globetrotters can keep their tresses healthy while they navigate humid night markets and deep sea biomes.
Patrick Alès, who pioneered the hairdressing style of ‘le brushing’ and counted Edith Paif, Jacky Kennedy and Brigitte Bardot among his clients, created PHYTO in 1969, a line of natural, botanical hair products that are gentle to the skin and scalp.
His grandson, Yahn Alès was initially not interested in following his footsteps. After graduating with a Masters in Business Management from Aix-marseille School of Management, Yahn worked as a project manager for a business development firm in the Provence Alpes Côte d’azur region for seven years before he decided it was time to continue his family’s legacy. Yahn’s current position has seen him travel worldwide to spread the brand philosophy of love for hair, with Singapore as his latest stop.
It’s your first time in Singapore. What do you usually look out for when visiting a new country?
The first thing I do is to find a place for coffee. Coffeeshops are the best way to experience a new locale authentically; I can observe the streets, the people going about their day, and experience the climate. I was at Oriole Coffee + Bar at Somerset sipping on a cuppa before I visited salons and vendors. It gave me time to think about the environmental factors in Singapore so I could better recommend products to the salons.
You’re currently travelling through Asia for PHYTO’S 50th anniversary. Which country has been your favourite?
I was in Thailand three months ago. The culture, people and countryside are really inviting. I find the Thais to be very welcoming of new experiences and novelty, which is something that is lacking in Europe. I spent lots of time in Phuket, Koh Phi
Phi, Khao Lak and Krabi; as an avid diver, one of my favourite spots was Anemone Reef, a site teeming with vibrant anemones and abundant sea life.
What did you think about the food in Thailand?
Having spent most of my life in Europe, I loved the flavours that can be found here, and there’s always something new for me to try. In fact, I went to the Bangla Night Market almost every night that I was in Phuket. Beyond the predictable pad thai (which is still fantastic), there’s a surprise stall that sells the best fried chicken. Near the end of the market and tucked into a corner, Meena’s Fried Chicken serves juicy, golden brown pieces that are perfect with a round of ice-cold beers.
What hair products are musthaves for your travels?
PHYTO 7 hair cream is great as I’m constantly staying in different hotels throughout my business trips, and it helps prevent dry hair even if the shampoo provided by the hotel doesn’t suit my hair type. With my constant dive trips, seawater can be quite harsh on the hair, and PHYTOPLAGE uses botanical extracts like saffron and coconut to restore hair health. Our newest PHYTODETOX mask is also great for hot and humid climates as it helps regulate sebum and keep the scalp healthy.
How is PHYTO adapting to the demand for more green products? Currently, and especially in Asia, consumers are concerned about the ingredients that go into each product. Traceability and sustainability are big issues. All our botanicals are painstakingly sourced from sustainable sources in France and around the globe, and we are working to provide 100 percent traceability for all our products. Our packaging, which uses recyclable plastics and aluminum tubes, also takes up less space during shipping. By reducing the amount of space needed, we help to lower our carbon footprint and lower emissions. As a local Parisian, what’s the quintessential Paris experience in your opinion?
It’s not the Eiffel Tower. I highly recommend a visit to Montmartre instead. It’s essentially a large hill in the 18th arrondisement that houses a bustling art and culture centre. Head to the Basilica of the Sacré-coeur at the summit of Montmartre; it gives an unparalleled view of Paris. Also, a trip to the 18th arrondisement isn’t complete without catching a cabaret show at the famed Moulin Rouge.
Bangla Night Market
La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre