philip b

Philip B. caught up with Philip B during one of his whirlwind trips to Austin. He is traveling the country, training stylists how to perform his scalp treatments.

Philip B (he doesn't disclose what the B. stands for) is a 6-foot-4-inch bundle of energy, full of enthusiasm for his products and their power to transform troubled hair. At 35, he has built a successful haircare company and a loyal following. When he's not traveling, he splits his time between his New York and Beverly Hills salons.

He wanted to create haircare products that used natural, eco-friendly elements. But more important, he says he wanted to create products that worked.

"I want every lady to get out of the shower and be so excited and call 10 friends screaming with joy," he says.

His products are based on 20 years of work in the industry. At the age of 25, he says he started talking to chemists about what he wanted to do. He wanted formulations that were over 40 percent pure plant extracts.

In addition to the high price tag, a 40 percent formulation would get him in trouble with the FDA because they would be considered pharmaceutical products. He went down to 30 percent, but says his products still contain 10 to 20 times more natural elements that make them work better than what's on the market.

Too often, he says, the money is spent on fancy packaging rather than what's in the bottle.

In 1992, he launched his haircare line. Philip B decided to put his money into what's inside the bottle. The bottles were plain white, with black lettering. Simple. Cheap. The money was spent custom ordering botanical extracts for his formulations. His first product was called Alchemy Volumizing Shampoo and 8 ounces cost a whopping $24. But the bottles blew off the shelves, he says.

Today, Philip B sells a full line of products, infused with such extracts as chamomile, peppermint and shea butter designed to balance, soothe and heal the scalp. Curlyheads have snatched up such products as his Botanical One step Conditioning Shampoo with African Shea Butter and his Botanical Deep-Conditioning Crème Rinse with African Shea Butter, Wheat Germ and Soy Protein.

I decided to see for myself what Philip B was all about so volunteered to be a model during one of his presentations at Bella Salon, one of Austin's hippest salons on West Sixth Street. He was teaching the stylists how to do his oil treatments.

When I got there, Philip B, dressed all in black greeted me and I quickly changed into a leopard-spotted robe. And then he went to work on my scalp. I don't think my scalp has ever gotten this much attention.

He believes hair is like leather. It needs to be rehydrated and polished. That is especially true of curly hair. Because the cuticle is rough, it can look dull, with no shine.

With some trepidation, I watched him approach with a nylon bristle brush in hand. He brushed my hair like it's never been, starting at the ends. He patiently jiggled and twisted the brush through my hair With thick, coarse curls, I looked like Frankenstein's bride. We are talking big hair.

Philip B says good brushing is an essential step in his treatment because it helps loosen the scales of the scalp and distributes the natural oils. It also gets rid of buildup. With a good brushing, he says he can move oils four to six inches down the hair. If you're like me, you rarely brush your hair.

Then he applied the oil in sections with a brush to my dry hair, squeezing it in. My hair sucked it up like a sponge. His Rejuvenator for Dry to Damaged Hair contains extra such oils as extra virgin olive, peanut, walnut, almond, jojoba and lavender. It's designed to replicate human sebum.

I heard oohs and aaaahs as he combed away huge chunks of dead skin and product buildup. I know it sounds disgusting, but the other stylists were equally amazed. They even passed around a white flake from my scalp. I couldn't believe all of this white buildup had been sitting on my head.

When my scalp was covered with oil, I was escorted to a dryer for 20 minutes where the oils really did their magic.

When I returned to the chair 20 minutes later, he applied some Botanical Volumizing Shampoo in sections. This shampoo felt like a cough drop on my newly clarified scalp. It contains 2.3 percent peppermint oil. He worked the shampoo through my scalp, gently squeezing it into the ends.

Then it was time for the shampoo bowl, where he rinsed it all out. Then he finished it off with some of his Botanical Deep-Conditioning Crème Rinse, a total 4-curl product. He ran a wide-toothed comb through my hair effortlessly. Then he ran a medium-toothed comb through my hair. Then to my shock, he ran a fine-toothed comb through my hair, without a single snag. I don't think I've had a fine-toothed comb in my hair since I was an infant. My hair felt 'like buttah!!!'

The oil treatment, he says, gives 'silky, voluptuous, juicy curl.' He's right. When I returned to the office, I rushed over to Gretchen and told her to feel my hair. She was equally amazed at how soft my usually brilloesque hair felt. It stayed softer for more than a week. Philip B recommends at-home maintenance to really get the full benefits of the treatment.

He advises having the treatment about every month to six weeks for curly hair. He believes it reduces the needs for frequent trims because it keeps the ends in good condition.

The Philip B oil treatment runs $50 to $150, depending upon the salon and stylist. To find out where to get a Philip B treatment, call (800) 643-5556.