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Jen Atkin is everywhere these days — with the Kardashians as they prep for every imaginable appearance and shoot, trimming tresses in Dubai, giving much-Instagrammed interviews to the New York Times, running her blog ManeAddicts.com and soon, in your very own bathroom. That’s because the celebrity hairstylist, who also works on Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara and countless other A-listers, has announced her own haircare line, Ouai.
The name, pronounced “way,” is inspired by the casual French word for “yes” — ouais — minus the s. “My mood boards have always been French — I love Vanessa Traina and those girls who are effortlessly chic,” says Atkin, who grew up in Hawaii and also likes that it looks Hawaiian. “[The name] is a conversation piece.” Helping start the conversation: the Ouai IG account, which is already full of hair inspiration.
The line — debuting on Feb. 1, and in Sephora on March 1 — has been in the works for two years, but Atkin began thinking about it around 2010. “I have tested out everything and I feel like there’s just so much missing in the marketplace,” she says. “The first thing I’ve noticed with clients, because I’m such a pill pusher, was whenever I put them on a regimen of adding a vitamin or supplement to their routine they’ve seen such great results, so that was the first thing I wanted to do.” Ouai has three supplement formulations — created with a doctor — to address dry hair, oily scalp and hair growth.
Of course, topical products are also a big part of the brand. They will include shampoo and conditioner (with the latter a bit smaller so you can tell them apart in the shower), texturizing hairspray, soft hairspray, dry shampoo, wave spray and hair oil. They are all meant to be mix-and-match, explains Atkin. She is especially excited about the treatment mask, which comes in individual packets for easy travel (and to avoid water in the jar) and is a “game-changer for girls with damaged, thick or unruly hair.”
Atkin also wanted to address the unrealistic expectations put forth by companies in marketing materials picturing models in perfectly coiffed wigs. Instead of focusing just on e-commerce, the Ouai website will be more of an online magazine offering tips and showing models actually doing their own hair in styles curated by Atkin. Additionally, she’ll launch a subscription model. “In the past I’ve used Proactiv and I love the Honest Co. and I just think women really appreciate not having to think about it, having it sent to their house,” says Atkin.
Aesthetics came into play as well. Atkin tells Pret-a-Reporter she loves visiting Harrods, Space.NK and Barneys for brands such as Byredo and Diptyque and Le Labo, but felt something with that luxury feel was missing in haircare. “I wanted to create what Zara is to Céline — like it looks like Céline but is at an affordable price point,” she says. Atkin is proud of the scents, which incorporate gardenia and jasmine. “I’m, like, the queen of selfies, and I wanted something that looks good in the bathroom, not like you want to hide it,” she added.
As a self-described perfectionist and oversharer, Atkin says she is planning lots of original content for the site, including appearances by her “girls,” who have all tried and smelled the products and given feedback. “For the past year, I’ve been trying out formulations and troubleshooting with all my girlfriends and clients and they’re all so excited,” says Atkin. If it’s Kardashian-approved, Ouai is surely destined for icon status.
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