Up Close with Phillip Adam

Get to know Phillip Adam and what inspired him to start his own line of hair care and skin care products. Read an interesting story of how his star product – Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo was invented and find out Phillip’s plans for the future of his brand.

1. Why and when did you decide to start Phillip Adam natural products brand?

Phillip: I started with my products 20-25 years ago when I became dissatisfied with a lot of the professional hairdressing products that were available. I decided that it would be nice to have a healthier alternative with clean ingredients that give the same salon-quality results. So I hired a cosmetic chemist and I asked him if he could incorporate apple cider vinegar which is something my grandmother taught me about many years ago and how important it is for the hair and scalp. For almost a year I was working the chemist on a formula and eventually the apple cider vinegar shampoo evolved. But I wasn’t mass distributing them before, I was only using them professionally in my salon and selling them to the customers that came into my salon.

2. In what way did the hair industry changed over years?

Phillip: I think I began my career at one of the most significant changes in the history of hairdressing. It was a very significant time. I don’t know if you ever recall the name Vidal Sassoon, a very famous hairdresser, he opened salons all over the world. I am mentioning his name only because of Roger Thompson, Sassoon’s key international style director. He inspired me so much to approach it from a very pure, simple perspective – to cut hair so it doesn’t look like it just has been cut. So it looks just natural and falls into place. I remember a Harper’s Bazaar article where they interviewed him and he talked about non-haircuts, in other words not so distinctive, just natural looking,unstructured. He approached every client that sat in his chair that way. He would say this is what we’re gonna do because this what your hair does best. Not trying to make it something that it isn’t.

Roger was most inspirational to me in my career. Previously living in Europe and travelling  I learnt a lot, but once I met Roger he was the key. Before Videl died he produced a book, and in Roger’s copy he signed “The best pair of hands in the haircutting industry”. So as far Vidal was concerned  and from what he had seen all over the world, Roger Thompson was the best!
So when I got into hairdressing all of this was just happening. People didn’t use blow dryers much beyond 50 years ago. Now all hairdressers have a hair dryer next to their scissors and brush and the haircuts are more natural. Before, hairdressing was way more convoluted. Those styles needed a lot of work to maintain. So Roger Thompson and Vidal Sassoon revolutionized things.

Some years later into my career I was invited to  join a collective, a creative collective of haircutters in North America. I considered it most fortunate to have been invited to join this group. They had  heard of my reputation in Canada and invited me to come to Minneapolis to a seminar and a hands on workshop with 10 other hairdressers. This is where I met Roger Thompson. “And I said oh my god, this is like working with a Picasso”. There was nobody else in the world that I would rather have worked with. And as soon as I met this man and watched him work I thought this is me and this is how I want to further my career. I identified with what he was doing. So that turned my career and kept it on this path including building products like this. Unfortunately he never got to use any of my products, he passed away too young, mid career.

So that was the big change in the hair industry. I don’t know if I have seen such a dramatic change since. And I never jumped on every trend that came along. I maintained that principle that I learnt from Roger Thompson. Take the hair for the type of material that it is and shape it so it responds best and most suitable for each individual. A little shorter or little longer, give the customer a couple of versions of it but for the most part use your hair’s natural characteristics to achieve a great functional style easy to maintain on a daily basis.

3. Who would you say is your ACV shampoo for? Is it safe for kids as well?

Phillip: It is safe for all ages and whole family use. My family and I were even using it on our dog for nearly 12 years, with no harm whatsoever.

4. How did your grandmother use apple cider vinegar for her hair? Did she have a special recipe?

Phillip: No, she didn’t have a special recipe. She just would mix apple cider vinegar with some water and pour that over the hair, after the shampoo, because there was too much alkaline in the soap. It was very harsh. Rinsing with apple cider vinegar after the shampoo is a nice way of treating the scalp and the hair. That will adjust the pH balance of the hair. So based on that and the consultation with a cosmetic chemist is how I came up with the formula.  

5. Using natural alternatives to commercial shampoos such as combination of baking soda and acv rinse became especially popular. Would you say that PA ACV shampoo is an equally powerful solution?

Phillip: Sure, the ACV Shampoo is equally powerful solution. You don’t need to go with the ACV and baking soda and rinse; it’s complicated.

6. Can you tell us more about the gluten-free quality of your products?

Phillip:I met a lady in a Whole Foods store and she said you know I really like your shampoo but I can’t buy it because there are five people in my family and one is a boy who has very rare condition – celiac –  and he also happen to have the touch allergy to gluten. So she says I don’t buy it since it has wheat protein in it. It inspired me to research and I came up with the pisum sativa, the pea protein, and that’s how I started using it. Now I can put gluten free on my label and it is safe for those people and so that woman and her family can now buy and use my products.

7. What do you think buyers look for nowadays when it comes to cosmetic products?

Phillip: I think most of them look for functionality, clean ingredients and at a reasonable price.

8. In order to really work, hair styling products need to rely on chemicals. How did you manage to work your way around this and create equally powerful products based on natural ingredients instead?

Phillip: I spent a lot of time researching natural, clean ingredients without having to use harsh chemicals.

9. Could you tell us more about the essential oils used in your products?

Phillip: I’m using my essential oils mainly for the scent and aromatherapy. I work with a essential oil scent developer who helps me sort out the various scents. I chose Lavender because I wanted something calming. Orange Vanilla reminds of a creamsicle, it energizes people.  Apple scent is invigorating. Refreshing, Coconut because it is extremely popular likeable scent. Makes people think of the beach. Verbena Sage I designed for me. I like an earthy scent so by adding the sage it gave a little twist to the lemon verbena scent.

Phillip Adam natural products

10. Tell us more about the versatility of your products. ACV shampoo can also be used as a body wash, right? What about other products?

Phillip: Yes, one of the benefits of natural-based products is that they can be used in many ways. For example, one can use our body wash as a shaving gel or as a hand wash at the kitchen sink. Our body lotion can be used as a hand cream, and people have been using our hair pomade to treat chapped lips, heels and dry skin patches. There was also one customer who discovered a drop of ACV conditioner helps eliminate static on clothes and hosiery in winter time. I’ve tried it and it really works!

11. How do you see Phillip Adam brand evolve in the future?  Do you plan to extend your product line?

Phillip: That mostly depends on the buyers demand. We’ve recently introduced family size body washes simply because there was an increased demand for it. Expanding my line would probably involve adding a few more scents, maybe building a gel. Then face care products.

12. What about Phillip Adam brushes and combs?

Phillip: That is possible, I think that would be a kind of a natural transition.