Somewhere between managing her educational site Mane Addicts, tending to a busy roster of A-list clients (including Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Jessica Alba — heard of 'em?), and trekking back and forth from L.A. to Dubai, the world's most influential hairstylist Jen Atkin found time to create a line of hair products. And a really, really good line at that.
Atkin, who shared the news with her one million Instagram followers today, has been working on Ouai — her line of shampoos, conditioners, styling products, and supplements — for two years. "The line is my heart and soul," Atkin told Refinery29 at a launch event for the brand. "I felt that there was a lot missing in hair care...and that hair brands haven't been speaking to the everyday girl. The Ouai girl is busy, she's on the go, and she wants to know how to style her hair for an event and where to go to get easy tips."
The line includes four shampoos and conditioners (Repair, Smooth, Volume, and Clean), three oral supplements (for thin hair, dry hair, and oily scalps), as well as a bevy of styling products — wave spray, hair spray, texturizing spray, dry shampoo, soft mousse, and finishing cream. The goal? Getting those signature easy looks that made Atkin so famous. "It's very Parisian-based, French-girl, model-off-duty," she says. "The majority of the products were inspired by cocktails I've put together throughout the years."
And, in true Atkin style, the products were made for social media, too. "I wanted it to look aesthetically pleasing in a bathroom and on Instagram. I wanted it to be selfie-worthy," she says. The sleek, simple packaging is elevated, as are the fragrances inside. Dubbed Ouai No2, the fragrance for the entire collection smells like clean, musky florals (thanks to jasmine, white musk, and Italian lemon).
As for the name? It's a take on the French word "ouais," which is a casual way of saying "yes," like "yep" or "yup." Atkin dropped the "s" to make it look Hawaiian, which was inspired by her island upbringing. And, sure, it's a little hard to read on first try — but Atkin likes it that way. "I wanted you to be at a lunch with your friend, and they mispronounce it and you say, 'No, it's Ouai,'" Atkin said at the launch event. (Say it with us now: "WAY.")
We've been using the line for the past few weeks, and, we have to say, we're impressed. At Atkin's urging, we worked the hair mask through our strands before a workout and finished to softer, smoother hair. The texturizing spray is our new go-to styling product for getting those easy cool-girl waves. We found that while adding texture, it has a much softer, less tacky finish than most texturizing sprays on the market, which helped our blowout last much longer. And while we definitely recommend the dry shampoo as more of a volumizer than a serious root oil-soaker, we did love the fresh scent it imparted.
Fair warning: All the products carry a pretty distinctive floral scent. Our team loved the smell, but if you're not so into florals, it very well might not be for you. But there's more to this launch than just products; Atkin is also using the brand's website as a place where you can find easy, relatable hair tips. "The website is not an e-commerce site — I mean, you can buy product on it — but it's more of an online magazine and a community and a conversation," she says. "I’m curating all the looks and the models are doing them on all hair types, on themselves. I really want people to learn how to do it in their bathroom, so it's not me doing it." You know, at least until you're famous enough to get on Atkin's house-call roster. (A girl can dream, right?)
Ouai launches Feb. 1 at theouai.com and at Sephora in March.