Meet celebrity hair stylist and founder of OUAI, Jen Atkin

You may have spotted hair stylist to the stars, Jen Atkin, pop up in a number of behind the scenes snaps from the likes of Jessica Alba and the entire Kardashian clan as she works her magic on tresses as part of their trusty 'glam squad'.

After years of styling celeb's hair and talking to real women about their needs in L.A., Jen launched OUAI haircare – a smart, super cool haircare range that's making big waves in the industry. Find out more about the woman behind the brand and discover her top tips on how to achieve your very own #HairGoals… 

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What made you want to start your own line and what was the inspiration behind OUAI?

I’ve spent years traveling talking to women, listening to my followers and Mane Addicts readers about their haircare needs. There was a major lack of curated products in the marketplace so I wanted to create a line "for real life, for real women”.  I want haircare to be smart and cool; I'm a minimalist and I want to encourage women to be themselves, have fun and get back to basics with their hair. I'm sick of giving women hair aspiration that she'll never get to and I didn't want to partner with a giant haircare company or make these elaborate unrealistic advertising campaigns. Our models were all referred from friends and represent the international spirit of what OUAI is about. I was lucky to partner with investors who understood my vision and collaborate with industry experts in design and formulation.

The ‘cool’ hair style of the moment seems to be undone waves – what are your top tips for creating this look?

I think the trick here is to make sure the hair doesn't get too curly. A lot of times I'll go back in after I've curled the hair with my Kardashian Beauty Flat Iron and smooth over the curls to relax the hair and give it a more lived-in finish. When I am curling, I always leave the ends free for a straighter finish at the bottom. Post styling, I apply OUAI Texturizing Hair Spray or Dry Shampoo for a matte finish and use a small amount of OUAI Finishing Crème on the ends.

Share your top tips and product suggestions for coloured, damaged hair?

Start from within, our OUAI Supplements will you give you the vitamins you need to repair damage. If you’re going to use heat tools make sure you add in a heat protector, like our OUAI Hair Oil. In general, I love our OUAI Repair Shampoo and Conditioner for consistent treatment and our Treatment Masque for total damage control.

Share your tips on how to treat and style curly, frizzy hair?

I always suggest my clients dry their hair with an old cotton t-shirt instead of a towel after they shower as wet strands are much more fragile and prone to breakage, and the harsh fibres of a towel can be too aggressive. You should also be wary of what kind of brush you use on damp hair; something with too much tension will stretch the hair too much. I always use a Sheila Stotts extension brush to detangle because it doesn't pull on the hair. When it comes to styling, a heat protectant is key - the OUAI Hair Oil is a multitasking oil that smoothes frizz and seals split ends for a high-gloss, super-smooth finish, while protecting hair quality and hair color. African galanga, ama, and Asian borage oils keep colour from fading and protect hair from heat damage. 

Which three OUAI products do you always have in your bathroom?

  • Definitely the OUAI Treatment Masque - it really is a 5 minute hair makeover. Most of us don’t have time to sit with deep conditioning treatments in our strands for hours. This mask gives dramatic results after just one use and comes in easy individual use packets for on the go. I personally always bring one with me when I go to the gym!
  •  OUAI Oily Supplements. I strongly believe that you won't see changes in your hair by just doing external remedies, which is why you need to do internal as well. OUAI has created supplements for Dry, Thinning, and Oily hair.
  • My current fave is the new Dry Shampoo Foam, which is unlike any other hair products on the market. You can extend between washes 3-4 days, it’s dry shampoo on steroids! 

What’s your favourite go-to evening hair style and how do you go about creating it?

One of my favourite tricks for styling hair is ‘the clip trick.’ This is an easy no-fuss way to get incredible natural looking waves. Spray damp hair generously with OUAI Wave Spray, then use duckbill clips to create a dent in the hair, pushing the hair up at the root, then clipping into place, pushing the hair up underneath it, and clipping into place until the entire head has been clipped and the hair is in an S-pattern. Let hair air dry or blow-dry over then remove the clips, scrunch and you’ve got beach waves!

Which celeb’s hair are you loving right now?

Chrissy Teigens - any lobs I’m super into. I’m loving a full fringe with a short, shaggy cut.

What’s a stylish but super easy up-do we can try at home?

I'm a fan of the Half-up Topknot - start by parting your hair using your fingers and pull all of your hair creating a ponytail in your crown area, secure with a hair tie and spray it with the OUAI Texturizing Spray for volume, create a bun and clip into place, then finish of with the OUAI Soft Hair Spray and you have a top knot!

Jen's Top Picks

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OUAI Haircare is available at Fenwick of Bond Street, Newcastle, Tunbridge Wells, York.

By Grace Gargini