Behind the scenes with the best tressed’s not-so-secret weapon.
Written By JACK SUNNUCKS
In a new series, VIOLET GREY profiles female beauty entrepreneurs who are considered industry game changers for their individual approach to business. Each one entered the conversation in her own manner and maintained a steady, if not unparalleled, trajectory with her indomitable spirit.
Jen Atkin has achieved the kind of profile most hair stylists can only dream of. Over the past decade, she’s been on a meteroric trajectory toward Vidal Sassoon status, only for this generation. While ladies clamored for Sassoon’s signature Five-Point cut, Atkin’s worldwide cabal obsesses over her effortless-looking style. Whether it’s tousled locks, slicked back updos, or poker-straight weaves, the key to Atkin’s success is that she creates looks for her clients that suit their faces. Her famous clients “wear their hair,” rather than the other way around–her creations never outshine the visages they frame. The other factor contributing to her mane-stream media blitz is who wears said hair, namely the most photographed women on the planet right now: the Kardashians.
Atkin assisted Andy Le Compte, famous for doing upkeep on Madonna’s locks, and worked with Guido Palau backstage during New York Fashion Week before launching her solo career in the mid-1990s. Today, the entrepreneur, who has over 2 million Instagram followers, runs two businesses. One is the premium beauty content site, Mane Addicts, which is dedicated to delivering the best in hair tips, tricks and trends. The other is her coveted hair care line OUAI, which translates loosely in French to “yeah” (or maybe “yaaas”). The brand is the result of her years of experience making the über-famous — Gwen Stefani and Bella Hadid among the many—look camera-ready, whether it be for a magazine cover or a selfie.
Her initial range of OUAI products was all about the no-fuss style on which Atkin built her brand. Wave Spray, the line’s stand-out, gives hair a tousled, windswept effect in an instant. “While most wave sprays are made from sea salt, OUAI Wave Spray is made from rice protein, which creates piece-y separation without the dryness that comes from salt,” Atkin says, illustrating the mix of glamour and know-how that have made her products must-owns.
Her range has since expanded to include a host of new offerings, from vitamins that address hair health (thinning, shine, nourishment) to a much-lusted-after dry shampoo mousse to hair ties that come packaged like condoms. Just in time for summer, her latest offering is the nutrient-rich Rose Hair & Body Oil that adds hydration and brilliance to your tresses.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
Please describe your bed and your favorite thing about it.
Being in it. It’s midcentury modern design with beige fabric.
What time do you wake up?
Every day is different, but usually around 7 a.m.
How many hours of sleep do you require?
As many as the jet lag allows!
Any bedside beauty essentials?
SLIP Silk Eye Mask and my OUAI fragrance no.2 and OUAI Thin Hair Supplements.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
Tea, sometimes a pressed juice or a Dr. Lipman shake.
Do you work out in the a.m.?
I try to work out in the morning before the day gets crazy. I go to Pilates, I love Barry’s Bootcamp, and I love ModelFIT, which just opened by my house. I like to mix it up. I use ClassPass so I never get bored!
What is your morning skincare regimen?
In the morning I wash with Ayur-Medic Manjista Cleanser or Scrub, then I apply Mario Badescu Facial Mist with Rosewater and Aloe. Then I put on Glossier Priming Moisturizer and Balm Dotcom.
What makeup and products do you use on a daily basis?
I use a lot of different makeup brands, including Huda Beauty, Anastasia, YSL, Tom Ford, Kylie Lip Kit #22—I love a red lip, and a lash!
What’s your hair situation in the a.m.?
I wash my hair one to two times a week with the OUAI Volume Shampoo at the roots and OUAI Repair Conditioner on the ends. OUAI Dry Shampoo is essential between washes, and OUAI Finishing Crème is always in my purse for the ends. I usually let it air-dry. If I style and my hair feels oily, I embrace it with OUAI Hair Oil and do a sleek middle part and low bun.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
Emails, WWD, and Fast Company.
What business do you conduct before 10:00 a.m.?
Look through my calendar to see what I have planned for the day; conference calls and emails.
What time do you head to your office?
Depends on the day and what clients I may have scheduled that day. Could be morning or afternoon, whenever I have time! If I’m not doing hair, I’m at the OUAI headquarters in downtown LA.