How Jen Atkin convinced me to start using a hair dryer
A $500 hair dryer, to be precise.
I rarely blow-dry my hair, if ever. After learning about the technological glory of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, I was intrigued enough to want one, but I didn’t feel worthy. So at the launch event in New York City, I asked Jen Atkin, celebrity hair genius – see her work with Chrissy Teigen, Kim/Khloé/Kourtney Kardashian, Bella Hadid, etc. – and Dyson ambassador, to convince me otherwise. (Spoiler: She did.) Below is that conversation.
This is my thing: I feel like I don’t deserve to have a good hair dryer because I can’t do/don’t do anything with my hair.
Maybe that’s because you don’t have a good blow dryer.
So tell me why I deserve one and what I can do with it without using a hairbrush.
Honestly, here’s the thing. My personal friends have asked me: ‘Why is it $399 [American dollars]? Like, I’m not going to spend $399.’ I explained to them, we only own so many dryers in our life. And, P.S., they only say that until they actually see the dryer in person and then they’re like, ‘Oh shit, can you get me one of these?’
It’s just so revolutionary. I feel like the dryer needed to be reinvented. It needed a face-lift. It’s been so long since anything innovative has really happened! When I sat with them over a year ago, when I heard about the technology behind it, the facts – four and a half years to make, $71 million [in research] behind it – I was sold. That’s enough for me. I trust the name. I trust Dyson and I think that everything they put out is really tested and perfected.
When I first saw the size, I was like, ‘There’s no way. This is not going to be as good as my other dryers’ [because it’s so small]. Then they plugged it in and I was like, ‘Can I take this home?’ It’s been so fun for me to teach my clients about the diffuser, because I think the diffuser has been long lost, but we need to bring it back.
Right, that’s your thing: that everyone needs a diffuser and mousse.
Yeah, diffuser and mousse.
Well I think Gen Z and Millennials, they don’t even know about the ‘80s hairstyles. They’re like, ‘Cool, what’s this [a diffuser] called?’ It’s about teaching people that you don’t have to start from scratch and blow-dry your hair straight and get a curling iron to put wave in it. Most people can actually get natural wave, the effortless cool girl look, using a diffuser and wave spray or a mousse. For girls with really coarse and frizzy hair, we have three different nozzles.
If I don’t want to use a brush, I can use a diffuser instead?
100%. And by the way, don’t use the brush with the diffuser. I think people brush their hair too much. You just want to get life into it.
The dryer is so much shorter than the heavy, old-school bulky dryers, you can actually get to your hairline and get those annoying parts a lot easier.
And it won’t burn your head?
No. That’s another thing: We’re all taught to turn it up all the way, so it’s all the way high [pressure], it’s all the way hot. People need to understand that different hair types need different air flow settings and temperature settings.
So for instance, with a diffuser, I would probably turn it down to a medium heat and a low-to-medium air flow setting, because you don’t want the hair flying all over the place. You’re actually trying to just cup [the hair]. It’s like cooking a soufflé. You want to be gentle.
Are any of your clients good at doing their own hair?
I feel like most girls that I work with are actually pretty good at styling their own hair. I did send out a few Dysons to my VIPs and I got rave reviews.
What do you think the next big hairstyle is going to be?
Layers, more shaggy. I think girls that want to grow out their lob, the best option is to get a heavy fringe like we’ve seen on the red carpet a lot [recently.] Diffuse your bangs and let them be fuzzy and curly.
So do you not use a lot of styling tools other than a hair dryer?
I do here and there. I’ll usually work to bring a client’s natural texture out and then I’ll put a few bends with a flat iron in it if I need to perfect some areas. But I’m all about the girl on the go. When I’m doing hair, I’m trying to find ways to get really cool looks quickly.
What about for formal events, what hairstyles are you feeling right now? Are you done with braids?
I think I’m never done with anything because everybody has specific styles. For more formal events, I’m kind of inspired by the ‘90s. I love a good topknot with some fringe falling down. That’s very ‘90s to me.
I did Chrissy Teigen’s hair a few weeks ago for this Ellen performance that she had, and we just used a smaller curling iron and brushed it out, it was kind of like an old school roller set, and we actually loved it. It was supposed to be funny but we were like, ‘Oh my god, this actually looks good.’ And now we’re probably going to do it for red carpet.
You have to pay attention to what you’re wearing. If it’s a busy dress, don’t go crazy with the hair. Don’t have too many accessories. It’s one or the other.
When you’re doing Bella Hadid’s hair, those super slicked-back ponytails and buns, how are you getting that? Is it about directional blow-drying? Are you just layering it up with a gel or an oil? What’s happening there?
It’s all about the styling concentrator. What I’ll usually do is spray hairspray and use the styling concentrator at the same time, just so that it gets that nice sheen and stays in place. It’s hard to do on your own. You need like three hands. Use a toothbrush to get those baby hairs down and then just blow-dry it with cool air. Not hot, cool.
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Tell me something else I should know about the Dyson.
The filter’s in the handle. I don’t know one person in my life that’s ever cleaned their blow dryer filter, ever. And that’s really gross, because we only have a few blow dryers in our lifetime, so they’re probably disgusting. Because the filter’s in the handle, you’re not going to get your hair caught in anything, nobody’s going to catch on fire. And you can actually twist it off and clean it. There’s a button that alerts you when it needs to be cleaned.
What’s in the filter? Just hair?
It’s just a mess. It’s dusty.
I never thought about it before.
After a day in the salon, I can’t breathe. It’s crazy. But yeah, the Supersonic is amazing. There’s nothing that they didn’t think of. They did a heat protector around the magnetic attachments so you can take the nozzles on and off really easily.
Plus, it’s pink.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ($500), at dysoncanada.ca.