I Met The Future Of Hairdryers In Seoul

If Dyson Beauty tells us to protect the scalp, we say aye.

April 9, 2024

It’s a fine morning in Seoul, and I’m off to Seongdong-gu, a Brooklyn-esque part of town, to meet the newest innovation in hair beauty tech. To me, Dyson launches are the equivalent of a beauty Superbowl — that one event sure to get beauty fans excited and disrupt the industry. Now you might wonder why I flew all the way to Seoul to meet Dyson’s latest number. Dyson, known in our industry for airflow-powered hair tools, is transitioning into the beauty industry. They’ve even changed their IG handle from @dysonhair to @dysonbeauty. And what better way to announce this transition than the mecca of innovative beauty?


To me, Dyson launches are the equivalent of a beauty Superbowl.


I arrive at the event space with great anticipation: I will meet and try their new hair tool and get to meet Sir James Dyson, the founder and tech genius. I enter a huge dark room, along with local and global press members, all in anticipation. There’s a quiet understanding in the room: Whatever product he will be introducing, it will be one that we will want, and if we didn’t feel a need for it before, we definitely will after meeting it. Along curious whispers, an energetic Sir James Dyson enters the stage— “Ann-Yeong-Haseyo! Welcome everybody!”. He starts by reminding us of their innovations since 2016; Supersonic hair dryer, Airwrap, Corrale, Airstrait, and Supersonic r. These five have all been game-changers for their categories in how they treat and style hair and, most importantly, how they care for hair health. This is what Dyson is to me: The company that shifted how we look at hair styling by putting hair health at the forefront. Because at the end of the day, if we want glossy, beautiful hair, good hair products alone will not suffice. We also need to consider the structure of our hair fibers and how we integrate heat into drying and styling rituals. With this kind of mindset, there has been a vibe shift in the hair industry, prioritizing hair health before anything else.

Dyson Supersonic Nural, the latest innovation Mr. Dyson holds in his hand, almost feels like an emblem of what the company stands for. It’s a new-age hair dryer with a smart sensor that can recognize the head and automatically lower the heat to avoid overheating the scalp when in Scalp Care mode. You can visually see the heat being lowered with the light capsule on the hair dryer: It goes from yellow to red as you move it toward the scalp. Although our scalps have been neglected for a long time, brands and consumers are arriving at the scientifically backed conclusion that how we treat the skin on the top of our heads, where hair starts its life, is directly related to the beauty and strength of our hair. And this is exactly why Nural was engineered: “What we try to do is to keep the moisture in the hair and the scalp because scalp care is very crucial,” he says as he holds the new hairdryer to his head, “If your scalp is unhealthy, it means the hair is going to be unhealthy as well. It will break. It won’t be shiny.” Later, when we find time to chat, he says that this is merely the beginning of what his company does for promoting scalp health. However, the extra layer of protection, aka Scalp Care mood is not the only novelty. Nural has a special attachment learning feature, with a memory probably better than mine, that remembers the preferred heat and airflow settings you last used with a specific attachment.


It was love at first sight with the new Curl + Wave diffuser.


Speaking of, the Curl + Wave Diffuser is new and definitely noteworthy. After the event, I tried it with Dyson ambassador Sunwoo Kim, a super-talented hair stylist known for working with numerous K-pop stars. After hydrating a hair strand with some water, he placed my hair in the diffuser, waited for about 5 seconds, and there it was: The most beautiful, natural-looking wave I’ve ever seen that’s been created by a hair tool. We both let out an instant “WOW,” and I was left to continue my day, wondering how I would wait a few months for Nural and the new attachment to arrive in Turkey. I guess some precious things are worth the wait.


A chat with Sir James Dyson

You mentioned in an interview that you don’t prefer relying on focus groups. Where do your teams gather inspiration for innovations, especially in beauty? How much do global beauty trends shape Dyson’s product vision?

Well, of course, we listen to consumers, do some focus groups and try products out on people. All I’m saying is you mustn’t take everything as gospel because people can’t tell you what to invent or what to design. They can only tell you their reactions to what’s in front of them or what they use. I’ll give you an example. Everybody says the battery doesn’t last long enough with our vacuums, but it does because it cleans their home. It’s just that they want it to last longer, but it’s not a good idea to have a battery that lasts longer because it gets bigger and bigger. It’s heavier and more expensive. So, you listen to people, but sometimes you must ignore what they’re saying and do what’s right. I also believe that people like to be shocked and surprised. Life would be very boring if you got everything you wanted.

Dyson is obviously a technology company, but I feel like it’s also in the business of emotions in the sense that its products are a pleasure to use, kind to our bodies, help people embrace their natural textures, and provide solid solutions. Where does the drive to create such products come from?

I think it’s because we all care about it. Most of the products I’ve done have gone into areas where it’s just become a sort of boring product. You know, vacuum cleaners or vacuum cleaners. They were all the same. Hair dryers were all the same, and when you start developing and, well, when we at Dyson do it, we’re all enthusiasts. We’re not a manufacturer doing a product so that we can get some sales. We get passionate and excited about it. And then, essentially, the company is run by engineers and designers who have this passion for a product. They give them all the love and everything to it. So, we don’t see ourselves as a business taking advantage of the market. We see ourselves passionately wanting to develop technology to make the product better. Yes, it’s interesting because you can see it in surfboards, skateboards, and skis. You can see that the people who make those are passionate about it. But you didn’t see that in the hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, or hand dryers.

This interview has been edited and abbreviated for length and clarity.