Look through the smartphones of Bella Hadid, Jennifer Lopez and the entire Kardashian/Jenner clan, and they’re sure to have one common name on their speed dial: Jen Atkin. The hairstylist, who is known for her signature beach waves, is probably the most influential authority for photo-ready locks. She has a following of over two million on Instagram, and always sets the bar high with her effortless retro styles and face-framing cuts. When she’s not working with her A-list clientele, you’ll often find her picking the next big trend for her digital magazine, Maneaddicts, or planning the next path-paving formula for her hairstyling brand, OUAI (pronounced ‘way’). So, how does one build a dream business, while rocking supermodel hair? We got the busiest stylist in the world to put down her setting spray and blow-dryer to tell us all her secrets.
On getting started: “I was obsessed with Natalie Imbruglia’s short hair in her ‘Torn’ music video when I was a teenager (in Utah, USA). No one could give me the cut I wanted, so I went to a store and bought a pack of shaving razors and started cutting my own hair. The next thing I knew, I was cutting all my friends’ hair in my parents’ garage. I loved how I could make them feel so good about themselves by simply tweaking their hair in a certain way, and showing them how to embrace their natural beauty. That [thought] makes me feel so empowered even to this day.”
From left: Chrissy Teigen, Jen Atkin and Khloé Kardashian
The philosophy behind her brand, OUAI: “I’m inspired by the girl on the go, who has only five minutes to do her hair. I created OUAI as a real line for real life; just multitasking nourishing products that cut styling time, and give you great hair effortlessly.”
The cool-girl cuts of the moment: “I love soft, shaggy layers with a textured fringe. It’s the best way to transition out of a shorter cut or hide grown-out roots. To get the look, tell your stylist you want a lot of movement and texture, especially towards the end and in the fringe.”
On fixing third-day hair: “Work a pump of OUAI Dry Shampoo Foam into greasy hair; it’s like dry shampoo on steroids that absorbs oil quickly and lets you extend your washes for up to four days. You need it in your purse, gym bag and hair right now.”
Hair mistakes to avoid: “Not protecting your hair from heat while styling it. Always wear a UV protectant to shield your colour from fading and to reduce environmental damage. Also remember that healthy hair starts from the scalp, so please take supplements.”
From left: Kim Kardashian West and Kris Jenner with Jen Atkin
Her deserted island product: “The OUAI Wave Spray. Spritz it on for stylish, undone waves.”
Her quirkiest hair fix-it: “I always have a toothbrush to tuck away the most stubborn flyaways”.
One beauty habit all her celebrity clients follow: “They all wash their faces in the morning and before they sleep, no matter how tired they are.”
Her most memorable career highs “The first was in 2006 where I scored a job as an assistant to hairstylist Andy Lecompte; I went on Madonna’s World Tour with him. By 2009, I was assisting with hairstyling on designer John Galliano’s shows in Paris, and a year later, I got signed by an agency. Fast track to three years later, and I was working with Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian West. Finally, in 2016 I launched my own hairstyling brand, OUAI — it was a dream come true.”