I have admitted to this before, but one of my biggest annoyances with being so glued to international blogs and YouTube channels is that I often see products long before they launch in South Africa, one of them being the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer which is a high-end hairdryer that a lot of my favourite YouTubers seem to love. So, when the presser for the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer popped up, I was ecstatic at the opportunity to interview the engineer behind the design.
When putting together my questions, I really wanted to try come up with an article that wasn’t what you might see on other blogs who have already reviewed the product, but the main question that I kept coming back to is how on earth does a hairdryer cost R6,499!? Thankfully, the team didn’t take offence to my extensive questioning and have taken the time to thoroughly answer all of them.
I should add that the PR company were kind enough to offer me a demo model to review and up until now, I wasn’t keen on it. My reasoning is simple; my blog is a place where I often talk about products that I think you will love as much as I do. If you go back to the beginning of my blog, you will see my reviews were all based on drug-store and budget finds, because, at the time, that is all that I could afford but as I have grown, and have become more established in my field and have started my own business, I often share reviews of higher-end items. But nothing has changed in the sense that I only share products that I am fiercely passionate about and whether I am sent a product or not, it doesn’t change my opinion of it.
However, when I saw talks of the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer online, everyone’s conversation revolved around the cost – understandably, it is quite up there – and while I am curious about the product, especially considering that most of my favourites swear by it, I also have to take a step back and consider whether it is something I would use my own money to buy. At first, I’d say, “heck no! It’s pretty, I mean – HAVE YOU SEEN IT!?” but after reading through my interview, I am kind of feeling like flip hey, this IS something that I am willing to save towards.
What are the key differences between any other hairdryer and the Supersonic – what makes it so great?
Most conventional hairdryers are bulky and difficult to manoeuvre due to the heavy motor placed in the top half of the hairdryer. The Dyson V9 patented digital motor – Dyson’s smallest, lightest, and fastest motor – allows us to place it into the handle which changes the whole geometry and feel of the Supersonic. It feels light and balanced in the hand and because it’s so much smaller, your arm can be closer to your body which reduces arm-ache.
Over the last six years, our teams of engineers and scientists have gone to great lengths to understand the science of hair. We’ve invested £50million (more than R928 million) in new hair laboratories testing on a great variety of hair types. Using real hair was crucial to the development and has enabled us to discover more about the damage caused by some conventional hair dryers as some dryers can reach extreme temperatures – resulting in irreversible damage.
To combat this, we have developed an intelligent heat control. This ensures hair isn’t exposed to excessive temperatures. A glass bead thermistor measures the temperature 20 times a second and transmits this data to the microprocessor, which intelligently controls the patented double-stacked heating element.
Our motor has been designed with an Axial flow impeller which simplifies the airflow, reduces swirl and turbulence. But it didn’t stop there, the motor has been optimized with 13 blades instead of the usual 9-11. Our performance was the same at 11 blades, however, 13 blades pushes the tone into the inaudible range of humans which makes it sound better.
What are the 3 biggest mistakes made when caring for hair?
Good healthy hair is all about maintaining a healthy cuticle layer which protects the core. This is mostly made of a protein called Keratin. If the cuticles get lifted or broken, this can make your hair look dull.
Using high-temperature products is not good for your hair. From years of studying hair, we know that you can incur irreversible damage with temperatures that exceed 150 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, if there is any hydrogen (water) in the core, this can turn into a gas and explode through the cuticles. That’s why using your irons even on just mildly damp hair is a real no go!
Although it’s hard to avoid, brushing hair when wet should be avoided. Hair is at its weakest and most elastic when wet. In fact, it swells by 10%, and as the cuticles swell, they distort slightly so the outside layer becomes slightly rougher. This is one of the causes of wet hair having higher friction than dry hair. This makes it easier to cause damage when combing or brushing.
As we get older our hair gradually reduces in diameter and density – it also starts to go grey/white. Even though the hair is not actually more ‘wiry’, it may appear so due to increased translucency. Sebum production also declines with age which is an essential oil that helps to keep the cuticle healthy. Due to this, we are often tempted to colour our hair. If you do, try to use more semi-permanent colouring dyes as these are less aggressive on the cuticle layer.
What common issues do we face when using hairdryers and how does the Supersonic combat this?
The balance and feel of competitor hair dryers are heavy, cumbersome and can give you an achy arm when used for a long time. Our unique Supersonic is designed to be light, small and balanced.
Conventional hairdryers do not control their temperature effectively enough. If blocked at the filter or attachment, this can reduce the flow rate and thus increases the exit air temperature. With the Supersonic, we have the thermistor that constantly controls the exit air temperature.
Many competitor machines have a very open filter or mesh at the back of the body. It has been known for hair to get sucked into the competitor grills where the motor is directly behind it. With the Supersonic, at the base of the handle, we have a mesh filter that is so fine in design that your hair can’t accidentally get sucked in.
Many competitor hair dryers are very noisy. We have very carefully measured the Supersonic throughout its development in our Semi-Anechoic chambers. When looking at the exit slot we went through 25 iterations of just that part to get the right balance between performance and noise.
When I mention the Supersonic to anyone, they immediately comment on the price – what is your response to anyone who mentions the high price factor?
James Dyson’s whole philosophy is to create products that are different and better. This project has taken the best part of 5 years, cost £50 million (more than R928 million), 600 prototypes, 100 engineers and scientists, and has 100 or more patents pending. All of these elements cost a huge amount, with James continuing to invest heavily in RDD – with a cost of £7 million (nearly R130 million) per week. Great innovation and game-changing products don’t come cheaply.
Personally, what is your favourite thing about the Supersonic?
James Dyson is constantly challenging us to make products that perform better than anything else, and I’m pretty sure we’ve done just that. There’s no denying that it looks pretty good, and it’s nice to be associated with something that looks so iconic.
What should we be doing differently in summer, to take care of our hair? And, if you could share only one piece of advice regarding homecare for your hair, what would it be?
The humidity factor:
Style retention is all about water. Changes in humidity cause the bonds in your hair to be disrupted as water moves in and out of hair. This will cause your style to drop out more quickly. A similar principle applies when you go outside with wet hair, which is tempting when it feels too hot to blow warm air on yourself even for a few minutes. But as your hair gets wet, some of the bonds that hold your style in place are reset, and hair becomes significantly weaker. The friction between hair strands also increases, making it much easier for hair to tangle and knot, especially outside in windy conditions. If you go out with wet hair, your hair will dry to its natural shape rather than a defined style, making you more likely to have frizz and fly-away hairs.
The swimming factor:
Now many of you may regularly dip into the pool, so I can’t help but talk about the next culprit – chlorine. We’ve all heard rumours of green or bleached hair. So how does your hair react to what’s in the pool? When you go swimming, your hair is exposed to a variety of chemicals. Chlorine is usually present in the water at very low levels, but over time, it can break down some of the structures in the hairs cuticle, leading to increased friction and mechanical damage.
Less commonly known is that some swimming pools contain copper algaecides to help control algae growth. This has been shown to react with hair, sometimes turning it green or fade – so the rumours are true. If you’re lucky enough to take a dip in the ocean instead of the pool, it’s a different story. Saltwater doesn’t affect hair that much, but as the hair dries, it will leave a thin layer of salt on the surface of the strands. This can increase the friction between strands, increasing apparent hair volume, but also increasing friction and damage when you brush or comb your hair.
The sun factor:
Last, but not certainly not least, we have to talk about the sun. Actually, hair is pretty resilient to UV damage. Hair often contains melanin pigments that are very efficient at absorbing and scattering the damaging UV light from the sun, giving some protection to your skin against burning and guarding your hair against significant damage. Unless you spend all day outside frequently, the sun will not have too much of an impact. However, UV light does cause small amounts of damage to the hair: UVA radiation causing colour changes, and UVB causing the proteins to break down. With extended time in the sun, the colour of your hair will bleach slightly, becoming lighter, and the strands will become weaker and more prone to breakage. The level of UV will increase during the summer months, the closer you are to the equator, the higher your altitude, and the closer you are to the middle of the day.
What can you do to solve these problems?
It’s clear that our hair is put through a lot of stress on a day-to-day basis. The good news, however, is that much of this stress and potential damage can be prevented.
Instead of going out with wet hair that leads to frizz and flyaways, dry your hair at home with the help of the Dyson Supersonic, which doesn’t blast your hair and scalp with an unhealthy and off-putting dose of heat! You can also finish off the look and cool down with the cold shot button.
When hitting the pool, take steps to minimise exposure to Chlorine and algaecides by putting on a swimming cap. It is important that after a swim, you also thoroughly wash and condition your hair to reduce the amount of structural and colour damage.
When spending time in the great outdoors, minimise UV damage to your hair by putting on some headwear. Also, avoid intense exposure to UV and UVA radiation by opting for an early morning or evening run as opposed to a midday one.
Who is the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer for – describe your typical customer?
The Dyson Supersonic caters for consumers across the spectrum, particularly for those who are serious about hair care.