Heaven must smell like an Ouai counter at Sephora where its shelves of wave sprays and curl creams beckon your attention. The brand Ouai is revered as one of the best brands for haircare products, but did you also know that it belongs to hairstylist Jen Atkins?
Yes, the very same Jen Atkins who takes couple vacations with Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, and is famously good friends with the Kardashians. The celebrity hairstylist set out to create her own brand in 2016 — and it’s been a hit in the beauty industry since.
Ouai is pronounced way, after the cool, casual Parisian way of saying ‘yes’ – not to be confused with oui. The guessing game is partly intentional. Ouai’s Director of Education, Diana Pratasiewicz, says the team loves it because it’s a conversation starter.
There’s much more that we learnt about Ouai while speaking to Diana over a Zoom call. For starters, the origin of its signature scents.
“We’re a fragrance brand true and true,” Diana agrees. “When Jen created the line, she wanted it to smell like a really expensive fragrance line.”
Ouai works with Swiss fragrance brand called Givaudan – one of the top fragrance houses in the world, Diana praises – to create each of the scents used for its products. “Jen picks every single note,” she adds.
It was genius when Ouai began bottling these scents as actual Eau de Parfums. Each fragrance is named after a place special to Jen: North Bondi, Melrose Place, Dean Street, and finally, Rue St Honoré; which Diana says she always described as “a gardenia walks into a bar smoking a cigarette”.
“Watch this space,” Diana advises with a laugh. “We’re coming up with two new fragrances!”
Ouai’s best-selling product is its Leave in Conditioner that pretty much does it all: detangles, hydrates, adds shine, tames frizz, has heat protection up to 232° Celsius, and prevents breakage when blowdrying hair. It makes you wonder why you’ve been fussing over your hair with countless other products.
“The whole thing about Ouai is being effortless. We’re here to make your day-today routine (easier) — whether it’s taking care of your hair, body, or mind. We’re here to be your effortless way to get there.”
Another popular hair product is its Detox Shampoo which packs apple cider vinegar as its key ingredient, but without it smelling as such, Diana assures. She recommends switching out your regular shampoo for a detox once a week and following up with a hydrating mask.
“Scalp health is really important,” says Diana. “The scalp is like a garden. If you don’t water it, feed it, and care for it, then your hair isn’t going to grow healthy.”
Continuing Ouai’s expansion into lifestyle products (including activewear in collaboration with Set Active, and another genius idea: pet shampoo), Diana teases its next big launch. “This has been our request from day one because fans love our scents,” she hints while anticipating an October release date.
If you guessed candles, you’re absolutely right.
“We love candles. They bring that sense of wellness, so when you’re getting into a bathtub, and maybe you’re having a bad day day…. Well, I’m not going to say candles can fix all your problems, but when you light one you’ll feel more relaxed instantly,” she says.
These candles will carry the scent of Melrose Place (Diana describes this scent as “rose with training wheels on”) and North Bondi with notes of bergamot and violet.
“The candles’ vessel is made of concrete, wax from a base of coconut and soy, and wick made from paper wrapped in cotton. They’ve got 55 hours or burn life,” Diana tells us.
Fans of Ouai’s haircare have no reason to worry that the brand will move away from its roots (you know, because hair), and that there’s more in that division coming out in 2022.
“Our heart and soul is in haircare,” Diana shares. “Think of us as a friend in haircare, who also has other great things up her sleeves.”
Ouai is available at Sephora stores and Sephora in-app.
(All images: Ouai)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia.