There are few hairstylists cooler than Jen Atkin. Everyone who is anyone in Hollywood has her on speed dial (the Kardashians, the Jenners, Kaley Cuoco and Jenna Dewan, to name a few). She gave Chrissy and Khloé their lobs, which pretty much makes her responsible for the collarbone-grazing waves trend. The thing about Atkin’s signature style is that it’s effortlessly cool—the deconstructed waves and easy updos that she’s created on her clients fill her Instagram feed (@jenatkinhair, well worth a follow). Not only is she talented but she’s a woman on a mission and that’s not just to spread the word about her Ouai Haircare line that’s finally reached the UK, but to educate the world in better hair.
Atkin is not just a celebrity hairstylist and brand founder (as if that wasn’t enough), she also founded Mane Addicts, a website for hairstylists and hair-obsessed women. Keep scrolling to find out all about Ouai Haircare and what our favourite celebrities’ favourite hairstylist had to say on everything from calling Kris her second mom to building her business empire…
BYRDIE UK: You’re successful in so many different ways in the hair industry. What’s your driving force?
JEN ATKIN: I want to refine and change the hair industry. I mean, it sounds so bold that statement, but there was this competitiveness in the [hair industry in the] '90S. With the Mane Addicts website, I wanted to have this platform for hairstylists to be able to get exposure and to help teach them the marketing tips I’ve picked up over the years. It’s a place for hairstylists to get culture from all over the world and to expose the people doing the best work in each city.
BYRDIE UK: What do you think is the secret to your success?
JA: When I was busy in the salon, I didn’t just stop, I was like I want to learn more about hair so I went to Paris and started assisting on Guido’s shows. My clients were like “Why are you doing this? You have a full clientele.” I wanted to further my education. After that I just tried to assist for as long as I could, I was actually quite an old assistant! I just wanted to keep learning, and I felt there was a lack of education, so with Mane Addicts and Mane University (where Jen and other big name hairstylists do teaching events), I feel it’s my duty to get education out there. We’re so used to seeing YouTubers and influencers, who are amazing, but there’s also this whole community of hairstylists who need to have their voice heard, the people who are doing the looks we love on red carpet and in magazines.
BYRDIE UK: We’re so excited Ouai Haircare is finally here. Tell us about it.
JA: The idea came from a mood board of a lot of French models off duty. I wanted to create a line that spoke to my friends and is realistic. I’m sick of seeing a model with four wigs in her head, you know? It felt like it wasn’t shaming girls to go, ‘You know what, we’re going to show you how to get healthy hair, work with your natural texture and become that wash-and-go girl.’
The name came from the French word “ouais”—the casual way of saying yes, which I think is cool and positive. I took the “S’ off so it would become a conversation piece. I wanted it to be something that you could correct your friends at lunch and be like, “No, no, no, it’s pronounced ‘way.’” The way I’ve heard it said so funny like is it “oo-are-ee.” But I love that people are talking about it, I think it’s fun you get to be the cool person who knows how to say it.
BYRDIE UK: What products are in the range?
JA: There are four shampoos and conditioners: Clean, for girls who don’t have any hair issues; Volumising, for those with fine hair; Smooth, for frizzy hair; and Repair, for colour-damaged hair. The curly line comes out in September, which is so exciting for my curly-haired girls. I’m teaching everyone to do a mix and match, say you have an oily scalp and dry ends you shampoo with Clean or Volume at root and then Repair or Smooth on the ends. Supplements will be coming out here soon. When I first thought about the line, I was sending a lot of clients to the Vitamin Shop, so I thought why not make a really cool hair supplement? I think millennials really understand the idea of health. So that’s why there’s juice bars on every corner and everyone’s obsessed with SoulCycle, so the supplements were kind of a no-brainer.
The hair oil is my trick for getting really sleek buns or ponytails. And for those girls with fine hair you can use the oil as a treatment.
Watch our quick-fire question round with Jen Atkin about all things hair on Snapchat below, then go follow us: byrdiebeautyuk.
Want more career advice? Find out more about how Jen Atkin built her hair empire.