Lets take a quick journey back in time, shall we? The year is 1998. Eight-year-old me is luxuriating in summer days filled with musical theater camp, afternoons spent at the pool and making up dances to the iconic Spice Girls song “Stop.” Its a simple time – but its also one during which my usually chocolate-brown hair is tinged a particularly memorable hue of rusty orange. Or rather, certain patches of it are.
This, as youve probably already guessed, was the result of an ill-advised experiment with DIY hair-lightener of yore, Sun-In. Like many other women and girls in the 80s and 90s, Id misted the foul-smelling spray all over my head and then spent hours in the sun, with visions of buttery blonde, Olsen-twin-like highlights dancing in my head. But for most brunettes, the reality of Sun-In was harsh, splotchy, uneven and painfully orange. Needless to say, when I saw that hairstylist Jen Atkins cool-girl hair brand Ouai was launching a similar-sounding product, the punny Sun of a Beach Ombré Spray, I had questions.
Yes, the nostalgic hair lightener of our youth is getting a chic, modern upgrade – and this version, according to Atkin, actually works. (One other thing I can confirm: Its beachy-coconut scent isnt the least bit foul-smelling.) I caught up with the hairstylist and entrepreneur ahead of the products debut to find out why this was something she wanted to add to the brands lineup, what kind of results can be expected and how Ouais version differs from the old-school formula of hair-tastrophes past. Read on for the… highlights (heh).
How would you describe this new product, and how is it different from products Ouai has made in the past?
Its a one-of-a-kind lemon, coconut water formula [that is] easy to apply and heat activated by the sun, for a look that says, No, I dont color my hair; its natural.
How much does it really lighten hair? What kind of results can someone expect, and how much do they need to use to see results?
Blondes can expect their hair to gradually brighten and lighten two to four shades. Brunettes can expect their hair to gradually lighten to a coppery, bronze tone. You can layer the spray based on how light you want it.
Does it work on all hair colors, textures and types? Is there anyone who should avoid it?
Yes, all [can use it]. For blonde hair, I like to spray it on ends for brighter and lighter highlights. For dark hair, you can spray it on ends for ombré highlights. You can step into the sun or use a blow dryer with a diffuser in order to get that all-over halo effect.
This is obviously going to evoke the idea of Sun-In for a lot of people, myself included, who no doubt look back at Sun-In nostalgically, but also with memories of it turning their hair orange. How is this product better and different from Sun-In?
Sun of a Beach contains a blend of tropical of lemon and pineapple juices to gradually lighten the hair, and coconut water that nourishes and hydrates the hair for more natural-looking highlights.
Why was this a product you wanted to add to the Ouai lineup ahead of summer?
Last year we launched Rose Hair & Body Oil, and it was such a hit because it was multifunctional and you can take it anywhere. We crowdsourced and received a ton of DMs from our community asking for another good summer product to work into their everyday routine to help get natural, sun-kissed hair.
Anything else to add about the product?
If you feel like your hair is drying out, use our Ouai Leave-In Conditioner or Treatment Masque.