Building a better hair dryer

Studying how women washed, dried and styled their hair helped Dyson create the Supersonic.

WHEN Dyson was developing its Supersonic hair dryer, the research team watched 100 women around the world wash and dry their hair.

Over 275 hours, they looked at the number of brush strokes, how many times a hair dryer is passed over a section of hair, the average distance of the hair dryer from the head, and even how many women simply gave up trying to get their hair the way they want it and instead put their hair up in a bun or ponytail (58%!).

“A lot of people know about hair chemistry, about shampoos, serums, conditioners,” says Ed Shelton, design manager at Dyson, “but actually there wasn’t a lot of understanding on physics – how does water move in and out of hair, how does it structurally change, what happens if you over-temperature it.”

Studying the science of hair helped the engineers working on the Supersonic come up not only with a lighter, faster and more balanced hair dryer, but as important was how to protect and control the hair environment while making sure hair stayed healthy.

The Dyson Supersonic, unveiled in April 2016, is a first foray into the world of beauty for a company known for fans and vacuum cleaners. The hair dryer has its motor in the handle rather than the head.

I had a chance to test out the hair dryer at the Dyson Demo store on Oxford Street in London last month (a similar store opened at The Gardens in KL recently).

My hair is too short to have a proper blowout but Louise the hairdresser still managed to make me look 3cm taller.

I was surprised to see her tuck the Supersonic into the crook of her arm while it was still turned on. She said it wasn’t hot at all.

In the interest of research, I didn’t wash my hair that night. When I woke the next morning, in place of the usual tumbleweed of strands going every which way on my head was the sleek do from the day before, volume and sharp side parting intact. – Jane F. Ragavan