Remember that scene in The Breakfast Club when Ally Sheedy’s character shakes out her hair and a flurry of flakes cascades from her crown, to the horror of her detention mates? That’s me — except the only one appalled in this scenario is me.

Like most people who know (all too well) why you should “never wear black without the Blue,” I exert maximum effort to keep my scalp “issues” private. Besides being OCD about blow-drying my hair from the scalp out in an attempt to blast away any maverick flakes that escaped the noxious stink of my specialty shampoo, then taking a compact to check out the clarity of the terrain up there, I go so far as to camouflage my unglamorous anti-fungal shampoo inside the bottle of a brand that does not have zinc pyrithione listed amongst its ingredients. While all these steps are critical to maintaining the appearance of a healthy scalp, nothing is more important than not succumbing to the itch. No matter how tenacious the sensation, I resist with white knuckles.

For anyone who is as tired of chasing a healthy scalp and the time-consuming daily routine required to combat their dandruff problems, New York City’s PHYTO Universe is a beauty sanctuary designed to assess and alleviate your hair woes.


Image Courtesy of PHYTO Universe

Once you step off the elevator onto the second floor of PHYTO Universe, it becomes difficult to believe you are in mid-town. A lush vertical garden comprised of 9000 tropical plants — the largest in North America — accents the rich wood interior of the spa, lulling patrons into a state of tranquility immediately upon arrival.

Despite the grandeur of the botanical character of PHYTO, the spa is not the sort of facility where you pay for superficial dressing, i.e. the environment, without taking home any benefits — unless you count the scent of perfumed lotions.

Pungent, chemically-derived fragrance is the antithesis of the PHYTO philosophy.  Founded in France in 1969 by Patrick Alès, the line is entirely created from plant extracts. Formulas developed by PHYTO’s team of doctors, pharmacists, biochemists, and botanists have earned the Phytosolba Laboratories awards and global acclaim.

From start to finish, the experience at PHYTO is delicate and deliberate in makeup. For those who have a shark-toothed schedule that owns them, the Ultimate Express hair treatment affords rewards that exceed the value of the 60 minutes plucked from their day.

The first step in all the hair treatments offered by PHYTO is a scalp analysis. Using a capilliscope machine, the hair consultant diagnoses the condition of your scalp and the volume and density of your hair to tailor a personalized therapy program. I informed my consultant of my own concerns and was surprised to hear that the analysis showed I did not, in fact, have a dry, flaky scalp, what I had was build-up.  Considering my aversion to hair products — in part owing to my anxiety over exacerbating my dandruff problems — I naturally questioned the prognosis. As she informed me, hairsprays and gels aren’t the only cause of build-up, shampoo itself, if not rinsed properly  — even if rinsed properly when using the wrong shampoo — can collect at the bottom of the follicle and result in a dusting centralized at the top of the crown.

Shampoo, as it turns out, is just as important as the face wash we’re inclined to spending mounds of dollars on. Just as those who cherish their complexion would never fathom to lather up their face with whatever bar of soap should they find in the shower, one shouldn’t reach for just any ol’ bottle of $7 shampoo in the drugstore. With the right shampoo, my consultant guarantees, washing can be cut down to a minimum of twice a week, thereby preserving the hair’s natural conditioners.

Not being a morning person, I rely on my daily shower ritual to awaken my senses. This being the case, and my hair leaning towards the dry side, my consultant recommends phytolactum, a light daily shampoo that purifies and balances the scalp while hydrating the hair. Today, wanting to eliminate any residue on my scalp, she opts for an exfoliating formula, phytosylic. Created with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, the shampoo combats build-up and soothes even the most sensitive of scalps. Effects are best if used once a week.

After a vigorous shampooing, my consultant paints the revitalizing phytojoba mask overtop my scalp and hair, places me under the hooded hair dryer, and leaves me to rest and enjoy a hot cup of tea and delicious ginger biscuit. Hood lifted, hair rinsed, one droplet of phyto 7 daily hydrating cream added, a brilliant blow dry, and a patting of phytolisse finishing serum (non-greasy and provides excellent control over fly-aways) and I am transformed into a walking hair commercial.

The moral of the story is: splurge. Invest money on the right hair products and take the time to nurture your hair the way you fuss over your face. As I have learned, to dismiss the merit of a good bottle of shampoo and time spent actually washing, not rinsing, the hair during the shampoo/conditioning process, is the source of unwanted, and more importantly, unsightly, grievances.

715 Lexington Ave

(between 57th St & 58th St)

New York, NY