Confessions of a celebrity hairstylist

Sarah Carty

When we meet celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin at Bondi Beach, she’s energetically taking Polaroid snaps, desperately searching for the best light for her selfies.

It’s obvious that one of Jen’s biggest clients, Kim Kardashian’s, aficionado for being snap-happy has rubbed off on the 36-year-old, who had just flown from Dubai to Sydney to promote her brand of haircare products, Ouai, in beauty mecca Sephora.

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Jen, who is one of the most in-demand hairstylists in the world boasts a crazy client list, including Chrissy Teigen, Hailey Baldwin, Jessica Alba and the whole Kardashian clan, who she affectionately calls her ‘girls’.

Jen Atkin (pictured here with Khloe Kardashian in LA) was in Sydney to promote her haircare brand Ouai. Photo: Getty

The hair genius works from three high-end salons in New York, Dubai and L.A. and loyal customers wait up to six months to get an appointment with her.

Her rise to fame has been a hard slog, with the Mormon-raised Utah woman moving to L.A when she was just 19-years-old, before taking a receptionist job at Chris McMillan’s (the man behind Jennifer Aniston's locks) salon.

Not long after, she landed a hairstylist gig on tour with Madonna and was soon a staple on the backstage beauty teams at Paris Fashion Week.

Just before we sit down to chat with the woman behind Bella Hadid’s new bangs, Kendall’s effortless waves and Karlie Kloss’s sleek ponytail, she’s told Ouai is the number one selling haircare line in Australia.

She's the hairstylist to some of the most famous people on the planet. Here she is pictured with Kylie, Khloe and friends. Photo: Getty
Kim Kardashian is one of Jen's most famous clients. Photo: Instagram.

“It’s so amazing, it’s incredible because I really do feel like there’s this amazing synergy with Sydney and with LA and I feel like I’m at home,” Jen tells Be.

While she’s reluctant to divulge much about her extensive rich and famous client list, Jen does reveal exactly how she manages such a broad range of women all on demanding social schedules.

“My schedule is booked about two months in advance so I know where I’m going to be,” Jen says.

“We know when awards season is, we know when fashion week is we know when Cannes happens, we know when Coachella happens.”

For the Golden Globes last year, Jen coiffed seven celebrities’ hair, including Chrissy Teigen, Praya Lundberg, Kendall Jenner and Jenna Dewan Tatum, into red carpet worthy luscious locks.

Jen is also behind the luscious locks of Chrissy Teigen. Photo: Instagram.

“I’m lucky my girls are really inspiring and they’re really understanding, we make it work,” Jen says.

As for any drama queen moments amongst her list of famous friends, Jen is hesitant to reveal her client’s secrets but she does dish on what happens when there’s a creative clash with her salon girls.

“I actually kicked a client out of a salon in Dubai and that was the first time in my whole career,” Jen reveals.

“There was a language barrier and she didn’t really know what she wanted and I was like ‘you know what we can’t beat our heads against the wall, I don’t think this is a good match' and I was really honest with her about it and that was the first time in ten years. “

Despite Khloe Kardashian being one of her biggest clients, with Jen spending most of her mornings at the reality star’s house before moving on to other appointments, she struggles to choose which celebrity she most enjoys working with.

The Mormon-raised Utah woman counts Jenna Dewan Tatum as one of her 'girls' and friends. Photo :Getty
Jen was in Australia to promote her haircare brand Ouai. Photo: Getty

“That’s like choosing a favourite child or choosing a favourite product, I don’t have one,” she says.

“I know it sounds so cliché but I think I I read energy really well and I’m really picky about who I surround myself with in business and my personal life and I don’t have any divas or any horror stories.”

Jen’s range of haircare products have been flying off the shelves since they landed in Sephora and she revealed there’s a new product about to hit stores that beauty addicts will drool over.

The Ouai dry shampoo foam launches in May and was created after one of Jen’s followers revealed in an Instagram comment what patients in hospitals use when they can’t wash their hair.

‘She tipped us off on and ingredient that they use in hospitals for patients who can’t wash their own hair and the minute she told us I was like ‘oh my god I need to get in the laboratory right now’,” Jen says.

Jen is often pictured out and about with the Kardashians and can be spotted on their reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Here she is pictured with Kourtney Kardashian. Photo: Getty

Jen also revealed that one of the worst things women can do with their hair is over style it and recommends skipping the curling tongues when you’re going for that Kendall Jenner waves look.

“Use a wave spray or a mousse, use a diffuser, flip your hair upside down to create more volume and just get this really beautiful texture,” she says.

After a few minutes our time with Jen is up as she needs to run to the airport to catch her 13-hour flight back to L.A. where her famous clients are waiting for her.

“People ask about jet lag and I’m like ‘I don’t even have time to thin about the jet lag’,” she says.

“It’s a fun, exciting life.”

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