Celebrity hair stylist Jen Atkin talks to Lindsay Judge about beauty trends as she unveils a new hairdryer on a recent trip to Dubai
The Kardashians love her, and so does Gwen Stefani, but hairstylist Jen Atkin loves the hairdryer she’s just unveiled.
We hate to break it to you, but the reason so many of our favourite celebrities have such great hairstyles is that they have great hair. You can take it from Jen Atkin – Hollywood’s favourite hairstylist and the woman behind one of the hottest new beauty products on the market, Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam, which has had many of her 1.8 million Instagram followers hashtagging like mad in the weeks since it launched globally. (Note to girls with greasy locks: It is due at Sephora in the UAE early this year, although her other products hit shelves last weekend.)
Atkin’s latest move is products, but the US-born 36-year-old is probably best known for taking the concept of getting friendly with your hairdresser to a career-defining level. The hairstylist to everyone from the Kardashians to Gwen Stefani (she became popular because of her ability to create those effortless beach waves that have become Hollywood’s go-to red carpet look), Jen has become friends with many of her clients and hence become something of a star in her own right. She’s appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and hung out with Kim Kardashian on her trip to Dubai last month. (Jen comes over to work in Belle Femme on a regular basis.)
In between shopping and dune bashing with the reality TV star, Jen launched the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer – yes, the company you may know for its vacuum cleaners and fans. The dryer has already been hugely popular in the US and UK, where it launched last year after Dh225 million spent on research and five years in the making. Dyson is certain the smaller, quicker and quieter tool is going to revolutionise the hairdryer as we know it.
Friday sat down with Jen, who also told us why she thinks she would be a bad salon owner and the plans for her haircare brand. We’ve heard whispers of your plans to bring your haircare range to the UAE… I actually have very exciting news. Not only did the Dyson dryer launch in Sephora on January 27, so did my line of hair products, Ouai. There is such a demand here for new products so I think they will do really well. Why do you love this hairdryer so much? When I first saw the dryer, I was a little sceptical because it was so small and different to anything I’ve seen before. But
when I tried it and found out about the technology and research behind it, I knew it was going to be good. How do you think it will do in the UAE? I know the women here very well and they not only embrace technology but are also much more invested in beauty than I think women in the US are. Beauty is something they do because they really want to, and they take real pride in it. I can imagine the dryer is something people will buy for the whole family. What would you say to people who are wary of the Dh1,499 price tag? In your life you would own a number of cheaper dryers, whereas with the Dyson you’ll never need anything else. I am usually all about working within your budget, but this hairdryer is my one exception. It’s going to be better for your hair as well so it’s a no-brainer. How often do you recommend washing your hair? It really depends on your type of hair. If you have overly oily glands then you need to wash every three days. If your scalp is drier you can go five days before washing. I usually wash my hair every five days. What is the solution to the dry hair we experience here in the UAE? I’m all about doing treatment masks. I think it’s also really important to take time to care for your hair, especially when you live in a hot climate. I also have some supplements coming out in May that will be perfect for this but I can’t tell you too much yet. What about dry shampoo – do you think it’s a good thing or is it bad for your scalp? I’ve actually just launched a dry shampoo foam. If you have really dry hair, though, use a finishing cream to stop the dry shampoo drying your skin out. Which product can you not live without? I would say a texturising hairspray. What is so special about your products? They are completely natural, of course, but I think the thing that makes them different is that they really are the products of the people. From the start I have been asking my followers what they want from a haircare range and working so closely with them to produce something that people are really going to want to buy. What do you love most about the UAE? I love that every time I come here there are new hidden things that I didn’t know about before, or things that have popped up since my last visit. What are your plans for this trip? I’m going to be working with a client that’s coming over from the US for a few days. Then I’ll be working in Belle Femme salon, seeing my clients there. I also have one day off so I’m going to be seeing friends too. Which of your celeb clients has the best hair? That’s the most impossible question. So many of my girls have such good hair and that’s why I think they are the trendsetters for new styles and can try anything they want. You have a very close bond with the Kardashians. They are constantly changing their hair – how are you always thinking of new ideas and looks to do with them? It is a collaborative effort – and I’m not just talking about me and them. It’s a whole team – make-up, wardrobe… We are constantly coming up with new looks and ways of styling. I also love introducing my younger clients to old-school icons that they haven’t heard of. I have a collection of more than 5,000 photos of ideas. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you would like to? Cher – I would love to do something crazy with her hair! Do you see any new hair trends for 2017? I think with the Dyson diffuser we might see tight curls making a comeback. Also thick fringes with a shaggy cut. Ultimately, I think women are looking for something that is low-maintenance and easy to do on their own. We have seen a lot of celebrity hairdressers and stylists opening their own salons. Is this something you would ever consider? Honestly, I like people to do what they are good at and I don’t think I would be a good salon owner. I’m constantly travelling and I wouldn’t want to open a salon if I didn’t have the time to be there and run it properly. I also love that I can travel the world at the moment and have clients in so many countries. You travel regularly between here and the US – do you take ideas between the two? Definitely. Every time I travel to one or the other I’m full of fresh ideas. I think coming here as well I’m able to bring new ways of styling and new ways of working with tools to the region that stylists and clients here have never seen before.
PHOTOS BY AIZA CASTILLO-DOMINGO
Jen Atkin is known for her work (and play) with the Kardashians; below, her haircare range and the Dyson hairdryer.