“I think there’s so much stuff in the world in general, that if we’re going to put things into the world, they need to be different,” Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen told me over Zoom a few weeks ago. Cohen and Crown Affair have set to make haircare a ritual, with products that can appear to be simple, but feel luxurious and are incredibly effective. Now, after trying out dozens of “clean” and sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, Cohen set out to fill a hole in the haircare category: Clean formulas that actually cleansed and nourished the hair, without stripping or weighing it down, and it appears she has done so with the Ritual Shampoo and Conditioner, out today on Crown Affair’s website.
The Ritual Shampoo will gently lift dirt and grease without stripping, leaving your hair feeling fresh and moisturized, while the The Ritual Conditioner is lightweight, ultra-hydrating, and based on Crown Affair’s signature Renewal Mask, tweaked to get just right for more frequent use. The Ritual Shampoo and Conditioner hope to be “the Cetaphil of shampoos,” a heavy statement if there was one, but Cohen believes she has achieved it, even after hundreds of heads tested it out. “I meant to make this shampoo, we’ve literally taken a year and a half to develop it. We’ve tested it with over a hundred people over the course of six months being like, ‘How does it actually feel?’ More than 75% of them were like, ‘I don’t know what to do now until this launches.’ It really hits different,” Cohen told me. “And it’s crazy because it’s the most boring product in your shower. The goal of it is to cleanse your hair, feel super fresh. There’s going to be days that you might want to do an intense scalp scrub or a clarifying shampoo if you have color in your hair, but you shouldn’t be doing that every time you cleanse your hair. So it just feels good.”
Cohen wants to simplify your life and especially your haircare routine. All of Crown Affair’s products feature the hero ingredient of cold pressed Tsubaki seed oil from Japan, which Cohen describes as “magical” for its hydrating properties while also being lightweight on hair and skin.
“This is your baseline, the most luxurious feeling Cetaphil or CeraVe for your scalp and strands. And then the conditioner is a lighter weight version of our renewal mask, which people love. And you could use it technically as a conditioner. I definitely use it all the time and I’ll just leave it in for three minutes instead of 30 minutes.”
The core ethos behind Crown Affair is to change the way people feel about their hair and how they’re connected to it, about finding the balance between the luxurious experiences and every day life. They have a deep understanding of their audience, and that less is always more in an age when it can feel like more is more. The Crown Affair shopper just wants to know their products work, and that it’s good for them and their hair, so they can focus on their other rituals. “There’s all these little beautiful moments and touchpoints and truly the whole brand itself, and you notice this because I’m sure you talk to so many different people who have companies, especially in hair care,” explains Cohen. “And it’s like, it’s actually that time and how you care for yourself. The whole company is actually centered around time. And I think, my vision, there’s so much noise. There’s so much stuff out there, whether it’s just products or content.”
When it comes down to it, Cohen just wants to take the ritual she has for wash days and integrate that same level of peace and solitude in her regular life. Regular journaling, walks, stretching, meditation — whatever you need to do to maintain your presence and show up for the people around you and your loved ones. “The only thing to me that makes an impact is just showing up every single day,” she explained. “I love talking to people. It’s the most fun thing. This is literally why I love doing what I’m doing is to connect with people. And I’m realizing as I get older, there’s so much power in stillness and being quiet with yourself. And it takes work putting your phone in the other room, not immediately listening to a podcast. It really does take work and it takes time. So my vision for Crown Affair is really to create a support system and network to guide you on that journey, whatever it might mean for you.”