Two years ago, Dyson reimagined the world of blow-dryers with the release of its award-winning Supersonic. Essentially noiseless, the hollow-barrel hairdryer took low damage yet effective heat drying and styling to a groundbreaking, sci-fi looking level. Now, the robotic vacuum cleaner maker headquartered in the UK is shaking up the hair tool game once again, with the recent launch of its second innovation, the Dyson Airwrap Styler. Six years in the making, Airwrap offers a new spin on the same intelligent heat-control technology that made the Supersonic so revolutionary. Powered by Dyson’s patented V9 digital motor, the multi-styling hair tool is engineered to curl, wave, smooth and dry hair without exposing strands to extreme temperatures, unlike traditional tools. Able to style your hair from damp to dry, the time-saving Airwrap attracts and wraps hair using only jets of air, which means you can create voluminous curls, natural waves and smooth blow-dry finishes without shine-depleting heat damage. What’s more? The Airwrap is sold in 3 different kits, each coming with specific attachments (which are interchangeable with one easy click) based on hair type and desired style outcome: There’s Volume + Shape ($599.99) for finer, flat hair; Smooth + Control (599.99) for thicker, frizz-prone hair; and the Dyson Airwrap Complete ($649.99), which carries all of the attachments. Think: two Airwrap curling barrels, a soft-bristled brush, a pre-styling dryer and a round brush.
At a Toronto launch event, Dyson brand ambassador and celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin demoed the Airwrap’s wand features for a crowd of hair enthusiasts. Founder of Insta-famous haricare brand Ouai (pronounced “Way”), Atkin’s celebrity client resumé reads the Kardashian family, supermodel siblings Gigi and Bella Hadid, and Chrissy Teigen. We sat down with the L.A.-based stylist to get the full lowdown on the new Airwrap, plus chat what’s in her pro kit, jet-setting to the Middle East, and much more.
Were you involved in the research and development phases of the Dyson Airwrap?
“I have been involved since halfway through, and travelling to Malmesbury, England for two and a half years, going every 5 to 6 months to sit with all the engineers. It’s like an ET situation: they set me up with sensors and they’re all sitting there with their notepads. What’s cool is that James [Dyson] and I will have one-on-one time, and he’ll ask me about beauty, what’s going on, and what’s exciting. He’ll ask so many questions. He really listens. Going in there as a hair stylist who’s worked with different hair types, and knowing realistically what women complain about, was really helpful. And as a women myself—when it comes to how I want to do my own hair—I’m the last client I want to see. I don’t care about my hair. When I’m in the bathroom, I want to get in and out really fast. And all of my girlfriends are the same. What’s been amazing for me was just to go and sit with the engineers and tell them what women’s needs are, and have them really pay attention to that. It’s been awesome being a part of the process.”
Is there specific feedback you’ve given that you’ve seen be implemented into the Airwrap design?
“Yes! When we first started talking about the barrels, the alternating directions hadn’t been figured out yet. I had explained to them that when women are styling their hair, they’re normally really good on one side, but not on the other. And when you’re doing curls, whatever your dominant hand is, you can usually gage a bit better on that side, and the other side gets hard because of the direction of your arm. It was amazing when they figured out a way to have interchangeable attachments that allow for symmetrical curls on each side.”
The Airwrap just launched for consumers, but have you been using it in your kit for a while now?
“I’ve had it for a long time now, but I’ve been really careful about who I’ve shown it to because it’s been under embargo. And if you know anything about me—I honour an NDA! I’ve used it on a few clients but I’m like, ‘no one can take any photos!’ and everyone has the same reaction. They’re like, ‘I need this immediately!’ The day it launched, my DM blew up! I’ve had honestly over 100 people write me and say they need one.”
How has the Dyson Airwrap changed your professional styling kit?
“I’ve been able to eliminate so many brushes and different curling wands. And if I’m in a pinch, I just have the Airwrap kit with me and I’m able to do so many different hair types. It’s amazing! But I wouldn’t say the pre-styling dryer replaces the Supersonic, though. For certain hair types, if I really need some extra heat, or I really need the airflow directed, I use the Supersonic smoothing nozzle, the styling concentrator, or the diffuser.”
As a pro hairstylist, how game-changing has Dyson been to the hair industry?
“I think the number one thing to know is that hair health has always been at the forefront of what Dyson is innovating. That’s the whole point of them going into the hair space. To change it—and it needed to be changed. Hearing from a lot of my clients and friends since they switched over to the Supersonic dryer, their hair is actually growing because intelligent heat control is a real thing! If any brand is going to innovate in the hair space, it’s Dyson.”
What’s your favourite hairstyle to create with the Airwrap, and which attachments do you use to create it?
“The volumizing brush. Lately, I’ve been super into a super bouncy ’90s blowout, like a supermodel Cindy Crawford blowout. For me, the volumizing brush is so easy because I’m drying as I’m styling, and I can ditch the Velcro rollers!”
Along with the Airwrap, can you name two other haircare products that you always travel with in your styling kit, and that you use the most often on clients?
“My favourite is my Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam. It works on multiple hair types, it dries as you rub it in, and it gives me really nice volume to work with. Plus, if a client’s hair is a little dirty, I just go through with the dry shampoo which cleans it right up. Like when I’m doing an updo, I like to have those piecey tendrils that come out, and this helps clean up everything around the hairline. Then, something that people don’t believe is in my kit, is a product called Gorilla Snot. It’s actually a kids gel, and I love it for laying edges down, or it’s amazing if you want to get a really sleek pony or bun.”
You have a huge following in the Middle East, and I read that you actually don’t even cut hair in North America anymore; you only cut hair over there. You literally must spend your days travelling the globe. What does a typical day or week look like for you?
“Yeah, I work out of three salons over there. It’s a lot of trains, planes, and automobiles. If I’m at home in L.A., a typical day is usually calls in the morning, and then I go into the office and I meet with the team. I usually don’t stop for a lunch break; I’m eating in meetings. At night, I’ll usually go to an event that a girlfriend is having to show support.
If I’m on the road, a typical day is my assistants come with me, and we’re back-to-back with Paris Fashion Week, or Cannes Film Festival, or even in the salon. My assistants are there to support me, and they’ll stay with a client until she’s ready to hit the carpet while I head off. Then another assistant will meet me at the next location and have everything set up. We’re like a well-oiled machine! And then if I don’t have to go to anything at night, I’ll usually be in my hotel room and I order off the kids menu. I’m a spaghetti and chicken nuggets girl. I don’t work out—but I need to. I just watch bad TV like The Real Housewives in my hotel room.”
And why the Middle East?
“People always ask me, ‘is it because they spend so much money?’ No. I’ve been going there for 5 years now, and what I love about it is that there’s such an amazing camaraderie with the women there. It’s different then here. Here, I feel like you keep your hairstylist as a secret. You’re like, ‘that’s my person, I don’t want them to book up.’ But there, they tell their aunts and everybody else. It’s insane the amount of referrals I’ve been getting in the Middle East. But besides that, it’s really hard for women there because expats will come in and do like guest appearances here and there. The local hairstylists there really haven’t had the training to do modern curls and modern haircuts. It’s a dream of mine to go out there and teach a class. You know, teach the stylists there how to do modern hair. I want to so badly! But that’s why I got out there, because they really don’t have any other options. Here, you have tons of stylists in Toronto, tons of stylists in New York, tons of stylists in L.A. So I don’t feel bad—I left all my clients here in good hands.”
I read that you’re from Utah, and drove to L.A. when you were young with only $300 USD in your pocket to start a career as a hairstylist. You’ve managed to build this incredible, successful name for yourself. What made you take such a huge leap back then?
“It’s crazy, I still don’t feel like I’ve made a name for myself. I just watched the Quincy Jones documentary that his daughter Rashida Jones made. It’s so good! And there’s a quote he said: ‘Be humble with your creativity and gracious with your success.’ I loved that. When I was 19 and moved to L.A., I had nothing to lose. I just really followed my gut and what I wanted, and knew that I could not stop learning. So I worked for a ton of people to get as much knowledge, information, and my work ethic. And just being nice—which I think was something that was missing in the industry. The generation before me was kind of like divas. And now, with this new generation, no one has time for divas. We live in a world now where you have to be nice. No one has time for rude people. And also, when I started out, it’s important to note that there were barely any female hairstylists really doing anything. I didn’t really have anyone I could emulate. I only knew about Sally Hershberger. It was like a guy’s world. That’s changed. Now it’s really a plus to be a female hairstylist, which is awesome to watch.”