You Heard It Here First

EBB’s Ocean-Inspired Haircare Products Will Be Your Beach Day BFF

Bustle speaks to the hair care founder.

Khalyla Kuhn dives deep into heartbreak, her love of the ocean, and how it all led to the creation o...
EBB Ocean Club

Two years ago, Khalyla Kuhn experienced a very public (and very brutal) breakup. Rather quickly after the relationship ended, the decade-long Podcast host escaped to the comfort of the coast in Hawaii, leaving loud commenters virtually silenced by diving deep underwater instead. Namely, she spent hours a day free diving — AKA descending the deep blue on a single breath.

“The internet sort of rained down on me,” says Kuhn over Zoom. “They needed a villain, and I was that villain — I had nowhere to go. The ocean has never let me down, so during this time, I literally was in the water five, six hours a day.”

The positive, of course, was that the water allowed her to free her mind. The downside, however, was that her long hair took a beating.

“I would have this insane, knotted mess on my head, so bad that one day I must've been fighting my hair in the shower for an hour,” she says. She asked a friend in the beauty industry (one of the minds behind the skin care brand Circumference) for a no-frills, personal batch of something that could help her tresses after hours in the salty ocean.

What Kuhn never imagined, though was that these samples would be really, really good. So good, in fact, that after some formula tweaks and a whole lot of testing around her extreme lifestyle, she was nudged to share the formulas with the world.

EBB Ocean Club

On May 15 — serendipitously in the middle of AAPI Heritage Month — the Philippines-born entrepreneur introduced EBB Ocean Club, a detangling, reef-safe hair care brand. The first handful of products to join the collection are the Detangling Shampoo ($23), Detangling Conditioner ($23), Detangling Tonic Spray ($21), and the Deep Treatment Repair Mask ($26). Not only are they ideal for treating post-ocean hair, but the formulas are kind to the water, too.

With the launch, Kuhn is sharing a piece of herself that was born out of heartbreak — and our summer strands are about to be all the better for it. Here, she tells Bustle all about how the line came to be.

What is your personal connection to the water?

I split my time between California and Hawaii now, but I'm actually originally from the Philippines. I lived very adjacent to the ocean and was a competitive swimmer. I swam for the Philippines National Team starting at age 10, and when I came to the U.S. at 15, I swam competitively here. Then I got a full ride to a Division I school, so I swam collegiately as well.

When my competitive career was over, I started free diving and spearfishing. Free diving, if you're not familiar, is the opposite of scuba — it’s basically descending to the bottom of the ocean on your own breath.

How did this lead you to EBB?

[After the breakup, I spent more time in Hawaii] and would dive every day to get my mind right — but the lightest breeze could cause tangles in my hair.

EBB Ocean Club

I wasn’t finding what I needed on the shelves, because [my hair care] doesn’t just have to perform. Yes, it needs to be very detangling, but I live a life that reveres the ocean — so everything that I put on my body has to have regard for reef and coral safety, and I’m not going to compromise on that.

It was kind of this accidental thing, but that’s the genesis of EBB. I was in a horrible, heartbreaking time in my life and just needed a product that was kind to the waters [and would let me] comb my hair.

What do the products smell like?

This was super important for me, because there are really only a few scents that are nice to inhale after being in the salt water for so long.

The products have a more subtle scent that’s calming but slightly energizing. It’s a combination of yuzu, moss, and shiso that’s very pretty and light and feels totally unisex.

Which of the products do you find you use the most?

EBB Ocean Club

The Detangling Tonic Spray is my on-the-go machine — it’s what I put in my hair before I get in the water and after I get out, and is always in my purse. It’s sun protective, very detangling, and acts as a really nice texture spray after a dive or after a swim. It's always in my purse.

How do you style your hair when free diving?

It depends. If it's a short dive, I just let it be free.

It sounds counterintuitive, but I used to put it in like a tight braid, then I tried a ponytail — but having a scrunchie on wet hair and taking that off is actually quite difficult, and it actually ends up stripping your hair more.

What’s next for EBB?

I had always envisioned EBB as not just a one-product thing.

I have this immense gratitude for the ocean, and I want to extend that to everyone — I want to democratize the ocean. Whether you swim or you don't swim, whether you just want to enjoy the sand, whether you've ever even been to the coast — EBB Ocean Club is for everyone.

The plan is to eventually get into dive workshops, to go take kids outside pooling, to work with coral gardeners on coral restoration. A lot of the content that we'll be pushing out will be stories around the ocean — and not just elite athletes — but fishermen or inner city kids who've never seen it. That's sort of the bigger picture around Ebb.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.