Courtesy of Dianna Cohen
Let's talk about hair brand commercials for a second. Can you think of any that don't feature perfectly blown-out hair with tons of bounce and volume? While there's nothing like getting your hair styled at a salon, or the satisfaction of nailing that look yourself, what about those in-between days when you want a great look with a lot less effort?
This scenario is what inspired Dianna Cohen to start Crown Affair, a haircare brand that wants you to slow down your routine by properly caring for your hair, not overloading it with products.
Since launching in January 2020, the brand has released both in-shower and out-of-shower products and tools, including a trio of brushes for different hair concerns, a gentle microfiber towel, a universal shampoo and conditioner, and a hydrating hair oil.
"There are products out there that will damage your hair type and it can take months to reverse their effects. You can use all our products, whether your hair is straight or curly or coily," Cohen says of taking a quality over quantity approach to the line. "How you're going to use all of them is going to be different, but if you take the time to really understand your hair, you will know what ingredients work for you and how to get the best results."
Ahead, Cohen breaks down what sets Crown Affair apart from other brands and why you should think about washing your hair the same way you think about washing your face.
What inspired you to create Crown Affair?
I started Crown Affair because I would share product recommendations with people and it was so clear there wasn't a community or conversation around what everyone does and uses to care for their hair. Ultimately, I would either buy luxury products that weren't super clean or didn't perform the way I wanted to if I wasn't styling my hair. Also, there would always be one thing I didn't like about the products, whether it was the scent or texture. The purpose of building Crown Affair is to create products I truly want in the world.
A haircare brand is expected to launch with a shampoo and conditioner. Why were The Oil, The Comb, The Brush, and The Towel your first products?
The Oil and The Combs are such nice baby steps into caring for your hair. I think hair oil is a very easy thing to integrate into any routine and you notice such a difference in shine and health when you use one. I fell in love with tsubaki oil [an ingredient in Crown Affair's hair oil] when traveling in Japan. It's such an incredible oil that's weightless and super hydrating, and lot of hair oils on the market can be really heavy and weigh down your hair. It also makes the hair fiber more flexible in the way it attaches to it, so you experience less breakage. Also, so many of our products are the no-makeup makeup of hair, so the The Oil is great for those days when you don't want to do a blowout.
As for the brushes, a lot of people use them on wet hair, and while there are some made for that, they really do end up ripping and tearing the hair fibers. A wide tooth comb is an amazing tool to use in or out of the shower, and gives you a bit of scalp massage.
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You recently launched a shampoo and conditioner. What was the process (and pressure) of creating two formulas to stand out in a loud category?
It took us over two years to formulate the shampoo in particular. Moisturizing products are a little bit easier, and since people are obsessed with the Renewal Mask, we took a similar baseline formula for the conditioner and changed it a bit so it's lighter. The shampoo took so long because of people's conception of shampoo in the states. People are obsessed with lather and getting hair squeaky clean, but it ends up over-stripping the hair, and just like when you use a stripping cleanser on your face, it will lead to the over-production of oil. You actually want something that's basic and hydrating so it doesn't strip the hair.
How do you hope Crown Affair changes the way people approach their haircare routine?
The democratization of both skincare and color cosmetics over the last decade has been so clear, where this category has been very rooted in styling and professional brands. Hairstyling is an art, but to me, it's the equivalent of makeup. Our philosophy is very much like the revolution of taking care of your skin so you want to wear less makeup. That doesn't mean you don't have days where you want to experiment with fun makeup to express yourself — and the same goes for hair. But most days is really about the care piece of haircare, and my vision is to create products that are beautiful, thoughtful, and remind you to care for yourself in that way. I'm very much of the mindset of less is more and quality over quantity.
Shop Crown Affair's Best-Selling Products
The lightly scented oil works to minimize frizz, boost shine, and protect hair from heat with just five ingredients, including smoothing Japanese tsubaki seed and hydrating meadowfoam seed oil. It's racked up rave reviews for its weightless texture.
Bath towels are often a utilitarian purchase, with price and color being the main selling points. But when it comes to the towel you use on your wet hair, the right fabric is key. Crown Affair's towel is made from a custom waffle microfiber designed to cut down drying time without tugging and pulling on your hair, which can cause stretching and breakage.
The Comb No. 002
While the tortoise shell comb is so ridiculously pretty it's begging to be Instagrammed, it will make your next wash day less painful, too. The widely spaced teeth detangle hair without being too rough, and the handle is sturdy so it's easy to hold.
The Ritual Shampoo & Conditioner
Every haircare routine starts with washing. And while there are a ton of shampoos and conditioners out there to choose from, not all of them are created equal. Crown Affair's set is made with all hair types in mind and contains coconut surfactants that hydrate hair and produce that lather everyone loves.
The Dry Shampoo
The beauty of a dry shampoo powder is that you can apply it exactly where your hair needs it. Crown Affair's formula absorbs oil and boosts volume, plus neutralizes unwanted odors.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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