Meet Francois Hourcastagnou, COO OF Alès Group USA

As a man working in the beauty industry, Francois Hourcastagnou, Alès Group USA COO, knows more about hair and skincare than mere mortals. He believes in taking the time to do research and analyze your skin and hair in order to find products that correspond with your needs. Don’t compare yourself to your friend, Brad Pitt or Adriana Lima, or whoever you might have as a reference (for Francois it’s David Beckham).

PHYTO Paris' philosophy is all about treating your hair, so let’s hear what Francois has to say about that!


PHYTO PARIS: How did you begin your career at PHYTO Paris?
FH: I began my career at PHYTO Paris over nine years ago and I was introduced to the brand by Raphaël Yousri, the current Global CEO of Alès Group, who was, and still is, my mentor. He was actually the one who made me come to the United States to work closely with him and I’m grateful that he did but more importantly, I thank him for the trust he still has in me.


PHYTO PARIS: What makes PHYTO Paris so unique?
FH: I would say that PHYTO Paris is a brand of firsts because it was created in the late 1950s, during a time when something like PHYTO Paris never should’ve existed if it wasn’t for Patrick Alès. Nobody really cared about the chemicals in the products, so when you’re so different from the trend, it truly takes a vision, somebody who’s ready to create something timeless. It’s easy to do research on botanical or all natural products today because everybody’s doing it, but 60 years ago it was a completely different story.

Patrick Alès’ vision of a botanical hair care brand is what’s been leading our product development to this day. Even though PHYTO Paris has been in the game for the past 60 years, the brand is still true to its roots and values because with such a strong philosophy you can never get lost. One of Patrick Alès’ strengths, and he has a lot of them, was to never lose focus of what made the brand different from the rest: its botanical formulas.


PHYTO PARIS: What are your opinions on the current botanical trend in personal care?
FH: I recently read an interview with Patrick Alès in Marie Claire in 1982, where he said he was concerned about plants falling victim to being ‘just a trend.’ It’s nice when you’re at the peak of a trend but you tend to be forgotten and replaced shortly after. Patrick Alès had been studying the centuries of traditions where plants had been used by herbalists and for medicinal purposes. Calling it a trend seems to me like an unfair treatment of the immense amount of science behind our products.

Overall, seeing how companies are being more and more transparent and honest with their customers is a good thing. Consumers want to know what they’re putting into their bodies, on their faces, and in their hair, and I think they have a right to do so. The good thing about PHYTO Paris is that we have always been in the tradition of explaining why we chose the plants we did in our products, but I also think we can do better. We have to begin educating consumers more in terms of product knowledge and innovation because only then would they be able to make an informed decision.


PHYTO PARIS: What is your skin and hair care routine?
FH: I’ve been doing the same routine for quite some time now but when I first got here the first thing they told me was that I wash my hair too often. I washed my hair everyday with some generic product, it wasn’t bar soap, I didn’t take it that far, but it was products with a lot of chemicals. It made both my scalp and hair really dry and I was losing it at a faster pace than what I had envisioned at the time.

The first product I tried was Phytopolléine Scalp Treatment and I love it. I cannot spend a week without Phytopolléine. My wife complains about it because I use it at night and the smell is a bit strong for her but I prefer to smell it because I know it’s 100% botanical.

Next I would go with either Phytoneutre Clarifying Detox Shampoo or Phytoapaisant Soothing Treatment Shampoo as my first choice of shampoo. My second choice is Phytologist Energizing Shampoo, which, when used with the Phytologist Scalp Treatment, is probably the best formula ever developed by our laboratories. I use the Phytologist Scalp Treatment 2-3 times a week as a leave-in conditioner to style my hair after I wash it. I don’t use that much in my hair and I also take a 2 month break from the Phytologist Scalp Treatment in between.

On my skin I usually go with LIERAC’s Hydragenist Moisturizing Serum but sometimes I switch it up and use the Premium Anti-Aging Serum instead and I also use Diopticerne Correcting Cream for any dark circles under my eyes. I like these products because they're not too heavy and since I know that my skin is a combination of oily and dry, I’ve learned that heavy products tend to make me shine. Don’t get me wrong, I like to shine, but not for my skin to shine.


PHYTO PARIS: What is the approach to beauty in France and how is it different from the U.S.?
FH: Since moving to the U.S., I’ve become totally americanized. I love mani-pedis, I think it makes absolute sense to take care of your hands and feet but it’s not at all as common in France, it’s usually something you do at home. Hair is definitely an important matter in the U.S., more so than in Europe because you rarely see women go to work with wet hair here. Effortless is exactly as it sounds in Europe. The U.S. is probably the leader in coming up with new concepts and it knows how to perfectly and efficiently market them, which is what makes it so exciting to work here.


PHYTO PARIS: If you could choose only one PHYTO Paris product to use for the rest of your life, what would that be?
FH: Phytopolléine Scalp Treatment. First of all, I know from experience that it works, second of all, Mr. Alès worked on it for 15 years before finalizing the product. I mean, nobody has 15 years anymore, 15 years to develop a product is simply crazy in today’s day and age. That’s what I like most about PHYTO Paris, we took the time to develop botanical products and they’ve become iconic because the combination of plants has been tested and retested many times to find the perfect balance. So if I could bring only one product to a deserted island, it would be a stock of Phytopolléine.


PHYTO PARIS: Why do you think a blog is so important for PHYTO Paris as a brand?
FH: I sometimes joke about how one of my duties in life as a father of a 5-year old son, is to make sure he has a full head of hair when he’s 60 or 70 years old. I’ll teach him about Phytopolléine and Phytoneutre, the importance of detoxing his hair after using gel and how to properly take care of his scalp. If I can see his full head of hair from heaven, I know I did something good and that’s exactly how I feel about this blog. I want to ensure that people have all the tools necessary to make an informed decision about the treatment of their hair.

Our duty is to educate consumers on our philosophy and use the blog as a channel to share the story of why we do what we do. We owe it to our consumers to teach them about the importance of the scalp and the botanical approach and hopefully we’re able to reach people of all hair types!