NEW YORK — The Ales Groupe is diving headfirst into the launch of its new Phytoprogenium shampoo — a product designed to protect the scalp with a newly patented ingredient.

“There are skin care products for every part of the body. The one part of the body where there’s skin that no one really cares about is the scalp,” said Anthony Molet, executive vice president for Phyto. “This is like fertilizer for the hair. You can’t grow hair without a healthy scalp.”

By tracking the evolution of shampoos over the last 50 years, Phyto found products that cleansed, detangled, treated, enhanced and added shine to hair. The company wanted to introduce a shampoo designed not only to gently clean the hair, but also to protect the scalp from germs, while carefully differentiating between good and bad bacteria.

“It’s a shampoo that’s gentle and gives softness to the hair, but also nourishes and maintains the scalp’s balance. This is where the hair level exchanges in the blood between oxygen and carbon dioxide. It’s important to enable your pores to breathe and maintain a good balance at pore level,” said Molet.

The progenium-patented ingredient is designed to preserve the natural protective shield of the scalp, which reduces the presence of harmful germs. The formula is composed of zanthoxylum, in conjunction with the sugar derivatives lactitol and xylitol. While zanthoxylum is found in an East Asian shrub used in traditional medicine as an ointment to soothe itchiness and irritation, lactitol and xylitol are drawn from straw, milk, wood and bran that possess antibacterial properties aimed at slowing down the proliferation of bad bacteria from attaching themselves to the cell membrane.

In addition, the formula contains natural softening ingredients found in oat, almond milk and marshmallow, along with olive leaf extract which acts as an antioxidant.

By the end of the year, the progenium ingredient, which took a decade to develop, will be added to a variety of pre-existing shampoos including Phytoapaisant, Phytolactum and Phytopanama. Industry sources estimate the new shampoo will bring in between $150,000 to $200,000 in wholesale sales by end of year.

The shampoo’s packaging will also undergo a makeover as the company’s trademark glass bottle of 35 years is replaced by an aluminum recyclable bottle. According to Molet, the aluminum packaging allows the preservative dosage to be minimized. It also alleviates many customers’ fear of the bottle breaking.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Phytoprogenium, retailing at $26 for a 6.7-oz. bottle, will launch in June in 1,500 select U.S. salons and will roll out to 700 retailers including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in September. The company plans to implement a strong sampling program at retailers and salons, along with an advertising campaign in trade magazines.