Not only is Jen Atkin one of the most in-demand celebrity hairstylists—her clients include everyone from Jessica Alba to Cindy Crawford—but she’s also the creator of cool-girl hair-care brand Ouai and, most recently, teamed up with Dyson to launch its latest hair dryer. We sat down with the L.A-based star while she was on a recent trip to Toronto to learn exactly what it takes to create her winning hairstyles.
An arbiter of the textured long bob–or lob–Jen has given her signature chop to clients like Khloe Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Jenna Dewan Tatum. “I’m trying to manifest a movement toward shorter hair, especially in Hollywood,” says Jen. “A lob feels fresh and modern. You need the right cut to suit your bone structure, so consult with your hairstylist to find the right cut.” In addition to a consultation, Jen encourages clients to take a photo of the hairstyle they like and using the face-swap filter in Snapchat to see what they’ll look like in the new ‘do.
Relaxed bends and waves have become Jen’s calling card when it comes to hair texture. “I call it French-girl hair,” Jen tells Hello! “It’s a natural air-dried look, but honestly, very few people can air-dry their hair and have it look good. It takes a bit of work to get the ‘natural’ texture.” To create the effortless bends, prep damp hair with a wave-enhancing mousse and rough-dry hair on a medium-low air flow. “I hold the hair in my hand, snaking it back and forth, like an accordion, while drying to create a natural wave.”
“I spend so much time making hair look like nothing was done to it,” laughs Jen, who says that in addition to turning the heat down on styling tools, it’s important to use styling products that also protect hair. “You want products that aren’t too sticky or heavy, and you shouldn’t be afraid to layer them.” When it comes to breaking out of the beauty rut, Jen suggests clients take their hair out of the “gym bun” and try a ponytail or top knot with a hair accessory. “It doesn’t take a lot to look like you’ve made some effort.”
A self-professed ’90s junkie, Jen cites Winona Ryder and Drew Barrymore’s ’90s-inspired cuts as shaping her current style muse. “I was so obsessed with Natalie Imbruglia’s short hair in the music video ‘Torn.‘ No one could give me the cut I wanted so I went to the store, bought a pack of shaving razors, and started cutting my own hair. Soon I was cutting all my friends’ hair in my parents’ garage. I still find that era really inspiring.”