How James Dyson Built a Hair Care Dynasty From Vacuums

the making of the dyson dynasty
The Making of the Dyson DynastyMODEL IMAGE: AUGUST;
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Straight off a red-eye flight from New York to London, I stare out of my taxi window and watch as the view turns to the countryside—specifically Malmesbury, England, the home of Dyson’s U.K. office. I explain to my driver that I’m in town to preview a new product: the at-the-time unreleased Supersonic Nural hair dryer. “My wife loves her Dyson hair dryer!” he exclaims. “Everyone in England has a Dyson vacuum in their home.”

This devotion isn’t attributable just to the proximity to the Dyson offices; we’re equally obsessed with the brand Stateside. You can find Dyson products at the Well New York or Barry’s (the latter is equipped with the brand’s hair dryers and air-purifying fans), and in luxury hotel rooms (like at the Equinox Hotel or Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills). Social media is flooded with enthusiastic Dyson reviews. Why are these elite hair tools, which have a hefty price tag of $429 and up, everywhere—and how did Dyson go from vacuum tech to the darling of the beauty industry? First, a little background: Founder and chairman James Dyson launched his company in 1993, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the vacuum options on the market. His solution was the world’s first bagless cyclonic vacuum, which could be cleaned easily, without constantly changing filters. But it wasn’t until 2016—decades after producing smarter vacuums, air purifiers, and heaters—that Dyson made his first foray into hair tools.

“Hair is a wonderful category to be in because there are so many problems to solve,” Dyson tells me in his sunlit corner office, designed in the minimalist, functional style we’ve come to expect from the brand. “The complexity of hair is what makes creating in the space such fun.”

Since the introduction of Dyson’s first-ever styling tool, the Supersonic dryer, the company has continually come out with more energy-conscious, better-for-your-hair tools, including the viral Airwrap multistyler in 2018, the Corrale, a cordless flat iron, in 2020, and the Airstrait, a combo dryer and flat iron that simultaneously straightens and dries hair using focused airflow instead of hot plates, in 2023. Now, eight years after first entering into beauty, Dyson is going back to its roots with the launch of the Supersonic Nural, the next generation of its first dryer. “It was a wonderful surprise,” Dyson says of the brand’s success within the hair category. “Vacuum cleaners are great for conversation at dinner parties, but people get much more excited about beauty products.”

dyson nural
The new Supersonic Nuralsabates

Salon stylists quickly adapted to using Dyson tools but reported issues with cleaning the filter of the original Supersonic—an integral part of a well-oiled hair dryer. The brand took feedback from pros and launched the Supersonic r—an ultralightweight, easy-to-clean, salon-only dryer—at New York Fashion Week this year. And feedback from consumers went straight to the development of the Supersonic Nural, the brand’s newest innovation and most advanced hair dryer to date.

“We don’t just rely on market research,” Dyson explains. “Everyone at Dyson, from the engineers to the designers, uses our products, so new innovations often start as a problem that a team member personally wants to solve.”

The Nural is a smarter iteration of the Supersonic. One of the biggest changes Dyson made was the creation of scalp-protect mode, which reduces heat as the tool moves closer to your head. There’s also a new sensor that recognizes which attachment is in use and switches the speed and heat accordingly, plus a pause-detect feature, which shuts off the heat when you put it down. Even the Supersonic Nural attachments are more advanced; adding to the brand’s repertoire of specialized attachments is a new diffuser designed to dry and enhance both curls and waves. After chatting with Dyson, I realize the boom isn’t just the result of a company known for its vacuum cleaners wanting to cash in on the multibillion-dollar hair-care industry. Everyone from the engineer who talks to me about hair follicles for a good half hour to one of the brand’s color specialists (Dyson has a whole team dedicated to perfecting the unique color combinations of every product) seems wholly immersed in moving the future of hair forward. This is what sets Dyson apart from its competitors in the hair-tool space. While a handful of popular dupes of Dyson’s tools have popped up, the company remains 10 steps ahead by investing in innovative and scientific research.

When asked about his legacy, Dyson says, “If you were to remember me, I hope it is as someone who was trying to bring new technology into the world to make people healthier and more beautiful. That would be lovely.”

The Dyson Supersonic Nural is available for $499 at

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