There comes a moment — sometimes without warning — when it becomes clear that rubbing your head furiously with a towel just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
That’s when most guys find themselves in that awkward position of rummaging in the bathroom for a hair dryer belonging to their wife or girlfriend, a machine that often looks larger than a power drill, sounds even louder and comes equipped with so many settings and attachments you begin to wonder if you need a degree in computer science to use it.
This helps explain why Dyson — best known for the polished, highly efficient vacuums and fans beloved by homeowners everywhere — is making an unlikely foray into men’s grooming with the Supersonic.
A sleek device that comes in black and nickel colors, the Supersonic was officially launched in Toronto a few weeks ago at a men’s hair salon, just in time to help those who are likely to find themselves in and out of the water more often than at any other time of the year. It’s lightweight, relatively quiet and engineered with high-tech details that might make some men become as knowledgable about hair dryers are they are about the latest smartphone.
“We looked at a whole range of (competing) products, and realized that this was a product that hasn’t really been developed much in the past 60 years,”
Gavin Galligan, Dyson’s senior design engineer, tells Swagger. “We wanted to create a high-performance pice of tech — one men would love to get in their hands.”
In conventional hair dyers, for example, the motor was placed at the back of the device, which Galligan says makes it difficult for people to balance it with one hand. The Supersonic moves it into the handle while also reducing it significantly in size. The company has developed “intelligent heat control,” measuring air temperature 20 times a second to prevent extreme heat damage and protect natural shine.
The hole in the centre, meanwhile, not only recalls the design of the firm’s other products, but uses a patented technology Dyson calls “Air Multiplier,” which allows air flow to travel at 105 miles per hour in order to dry hair faster.
The Supersonic took about five years to develop, and the Galligan says the company worked hard to do its homework. This included working with a laboratory in Singapore to study hair health and using electron microscopes and tensor testers to learn more about hair elasticity and what makes some locks look better than others. Like this:
“When water gets into the cortex of the hair, the centre channel and the outside has cuticles, like tiles of the roof,” he explains. “If you heat that water in the hair, it bursts through the cuticle and makes holes, which reflects the light in a diffuse manner which makes it look dull. If they’re aligned and healthy, it reflects back to you.”
The Supersonic actually came out two years ago but with color options like fuchsia, it was naturally marketed to women. Besides offering a more masculine-looking version, Galligan said Dyson’s discussions with those at barbershops and salons suggested the time is right to appeal to a male demographic.
“Men are taking a lot more time to look after themselves,” he says. “There’s also a trend in hair which is moving towards a bit more length, and with that comes more styling and control. The feedback is that this is something that men use and want.”
As with choosing high-quality skincare products or razor, meanwhile, Galligan says the men who recognize they need their own hair dryer won’t settle for something cheap and ungainly.
“Everybody wants the best phone. They’re going to want the best hair dryer as well. A few years ago I might have shied away from saying that,” he admits. “But this feels like precision tool, it’s not this thing that’s being ill-considered.”