LONDON — Hair is the word at British technology brand Dyson’s base in Malmesbury, a small town in southwest England, where the brand unveiled its latest innovation — the Supersonic r — to an intimate audience in January.
It’s an evolution of the brand’s Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, which launched in 2016, but this one comes with a catch: it’s for professionals only, including celebrity hairstylists and salon owners.
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The shape has shifted, too, from a lollipop-looking dryer to something more resembling a lowercase “r.”
The Supersonic hasn’t been toyed with for more than seven years until now, and Dyson’s engineers have been working toward making the new hair dryer easier to use.
The Supersonic r is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter with intelligent heat controls that measure air temperature in an aim to prevent heat damage against hair. It’s also quieter with one inaudible frequency.
The hair dryer comes with five attachments that contain heat shield technology, where the surfaces of the attachments stay cool throughout use. Other features include three airflow levels and four heat modes, including a constant cold mode.
In 2012, Dyson invested 50 million pounds to develop its first hair care tool — a process that took four years. Since then, the business has hired Kathleen Pierce, a former senior vice president of global transformation and channel innovation at Estée Lauder Cos. in November 2022 to head up Dyson’s beauty division as president.
“The pros were definitely the inspiration of origin for the Supersonic r and that’s sort of where we’re leaning in right now, we want to make sure that it’s torture-tested; that they’re using it appropriately and that we’re responding to all the problems that we need to solve before we bring it to consumers,” she said in an interview.
Dyson’s community of ambassadors and professionals include British celebrity hairstylist and salon owner Larry King and Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Matthew Collins, who are exposed to prototypes three to four times a year in Malmesbury.
The Supersonic r will debut at New York Fashion Week, followed by London, Milan and Paris.
“New York Fashion Week gives us that, that ultimate torture test — there’s chaos and all of these beautiful things ensuing backstage, where the pros are working at the top of their game at the height of pressure,” said Pierce.
King said the new hair dryer will be a game changer for his two London salons, one in Notting Hill and the other in South Kensington.
“I love that it tailors and remembers the settings, which means stylists will be able to achieve desired looks a lot faster than with a regular hair-drying tool,” he said.
Meanwhile, for Collins, it’s about saving time when doing hair for a red carpet event, as well as its longevity.
“I also share the time with a makeup artist — for me the style needs to last, as it may be two to three hours after I finish that they’re seen on the carpet,” he said.
Over the past 30 years, Dyson has become a leading name in international engineering, as its owner is one of Britain’s wealthiest families. James Dyson ranks number five on the Sunday Times Rich List, with a net worth of 23 billion pounds.
The Dyson Group saw record profits in 2021 of 1.5 billion pounds from 6 billion pounds of sales.
In 2022, Dyson said it plans to support the launch of 20 new beauty products and open new beauty research labs with an investment of half a billion pounds in the next four years.
“We are dedicated to understanding the science of hair; this is the foundation that underpins all of our beauty technology. We have been researching the science of hair for a decade, and have already invested over 100 million pounds into hair laboratories,” Dyson said.
Pierce’s appointment at Dyson hints to greater things to come and perhaps an expansion into skin care.
“One thing I’ve learned about Dyson is we’re very good at keeping our secrets,” she said.
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