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Blow Dry: 10 Things to Know About Blow-Drying Your Hair

Are you using the right brush? Plus, tips to dry hair much faster


Blow Dry: 10 Things to Know About Blow-Drying Your Hair
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That blow dry you give yourself every morning? You might not be doing it correctly.

It turns out blow drying your hair is an art into itself that requires the right brush, the right dryer and a host of tricks and tips -- all of which I outline here in these 10 things I wish I knew about blow dries 10 years ago. Enjoy!

Styling Lotion Can Make or Break Your Blow Dry

A good styling product is key to the perfect blowout. A volumizer spray adds body to fine, limp hair, while women with thick, curly hair need to keep the frizzies at bay with a leave-in conditioner. The secret is to coat every strand of hair with product. I like to comb the product into my hair with a wide-toothed comb and then I massage it into my hair with my hands. I read this trick years ago, and I believe it works to distribute the good stuff evenly.

The Importance of Pre-Drying Your Hair

I have a ton of hair and I learned a long time ago you can't do a blowout with super wet hair or it will take forever. Here are a couple options to get hair to 75 to 80 percent dry, which is what it needs to be to style dry your hair:
  1. Let hair air dry. This is great for warm days or long, lush weekends when you have nowhere to be for a few hours. For bouncy hair, apply a volumizing spray and then finger comb hair and then let it air dry. For smooth hair, comb hair and pull it off your head with a bandana.
  2. Pre-dry your hair. Use your fingers, a paddle brush or even better -- a slotted brush -- to pre-dry hair to about 75 percent dry. If you're going for bouncy hair, flip hair over and dry from above. If you're going for a sleek blowout, put the nozzle on the dryer so the heat is directional. Use the slotted brush to dry from the crown and roots down, pointing the heat down the hair.
A really good ionic blow dryer is the key to drying hair faster. See my list of Top 11 Blow Dryers here.

Section Hair

You gotta section hair properly before you blow hair dry. There's no right or wrong way to do this and every stylist has his/her own perfect version of sectioning. I find winding hair into mini buns -- two in the back and one on each side -- works best on my long hair. If you have super thick or heavy hair, try dividing each of your sections in half. One above the other helps manage the blowout. Leave out a section to start with.

Your Fingers as Blow-drying Tool

Stylists know the secret to the perfect blowout is to start with your fingers. Pull your fingers through hair starting at the roots and shoot the heat at the roots while holding the hair taut. If you prefer a sleek blowdry, pull hair out a few inches and hold it while you use the dryer to shoot air at the crown on down.

The Right Brush is Key

"The biggest mistake is using metal brushes," says stylist Teddi Cranford in the Huffington Post. According to Cranford, the metal heats up too fast and can burn hair. Look for a round brush with with a mix of nylon and boar bristles instead.

See my list of Top 5 Hairbrushes.

How to Keep Your Ends Flat, Not Rounded

If you don't want rounded ends, start with a rounded brush to dry most of your hair, then move to a flat brush for the ends. As you pull the brush through hair, follow the brush with the dryer. I love this stylist's tip in Lucky Magazine, "Imagine there's a point six inches in front of your nose. Stretch the hair toward that point as you dry. It sounds crazy, but when you're done, the tips won't flip under or up -- they'll just sort of fan out over your shoulders."

Hold Hair Taut

Hold hair taut as you blowdry so the cuticles stay smooth. Make sure not to blast heat in one spot too long, it's important to keep the dryer moving or you could overheat your hair.

Once Your Done, How to Make Your Blowdry Last

Once you're finished with the blowdry and hair is 100 percent dry, wait until hair cools and then palm a shine serum onto hair on the bottom 3/4th of hair, avoiding the top, which can appear greasy. You can follow with hairspray.

I also love this tip from InStyle magazine on how to keep your blow-out intact over several days:

1. Make sure to rinse hair thoroughly after you wash to get out any conditioner residue, says stylist Nathaniel Hawkins.

2. Products actually keep hair from getting oily. Spritz damp locks with a volumnizer spray or mousse before blowing hair dry.

3. Revive hair with a curling iron and a spritz of hairspray.

A Great Trick for Lifting Fine Hair

I love this trip I picked up from reading Allure a few years ago: to lift fine hair after it has been blow-dried, work hairspray along the crown with your fingers, massaging the spray into your roots at the crown until about an inch back of the head.

How to Keep Frizzies at Bay

If you're prone to frizzies, a finishing cream can help keep the cuticle smooth. Hairstylist Tommy Buckett of the Sally Hershberger Downtown salon recommends Shu Uemura's Cotton Uzu Defining Flexible Cream, which works best when it's worked through the hair with your hands.

Buckett suggests you put a dollop of the cream in your palms and then rake it through hair, getting the product on as many strands as possible from roots to ends.

More on banishing frizzies in 7 Frizzy Hair Fixes.

How to Get a Bouncy Blowout

For the bounciest blowout, try this trick I got from a hairstylist in Texas, home of the bouncy blowouts: as you're blow-drying hair, take random sections as they're hot and wrap them around 2 fingers, allowing them to cool. Unwind the "curl" and let it go.

Essential Reading:

  1. About.com
  2. Style
  3. Beauty
  4. Styling Your Hair
  5. Blowdryers
  6. Blow Dry: 10 Things to Know About Blow-Drying Your Hair

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