If you’ve ever sat in your hairstylist’s chair, eyeing every snip, silently pleading that they know what they’re doing as you ogle the length of hairs falling to the floor, there is no better litmus test to the success of a haircut than the blowout that follows it. For great haircuts, you probably can’t remember your hair looking as good as the time you walked out of the salon, with hair that has just the right amount of volume, smoothness, and bend. Since this can seem impossible to recreate at home unless you’re possibly double-jointed or just a blow-dry pro, here are some tips to learn how to do a blowout just like the pros.
1. Prepare. We know you’re hard-pressed for time, but if you don’t prep your delicate damp hair properly, you’re just blasting it with damaging (and frizz-creating) heat. If you’re paying attention, every stylist has probably does this on you and all their other clients getting blown out. Hairstylist Devin Toth at Salon SCK in NYC agrees, “Without exception, whenever I’m about to do a blowout on a client, I always prep their hair with a heat protective product. As the professional, my job is not just to style my client’s hair—it’s to keep her hair healthy, too.” You heard the man—use a thermal protection primer! There are lots to choose from, so keep your hair type in mind. Living Proof just dropped the perfect thing for this—Blowout, a protective spray that shields your hair from up to 450˚F and gives your hair a bit of grip and body for a brush to hold onto and mold.
2. Use The Right Tools. If you have a crappy hair dryer, you’re going to get crappy results. Worse, you’re damaging your hair way more than you have to while heat-styling. Devin recommends Rowenta’s Inspiration Pro Dryer, saying, “a high quality professional blow dryer should always have tourmaline and ionic technology, a cold shot button, and a thin concentrator nozzle. All of these components lead to healthier, smoother, and shinier hair.” Also, it may seem counter-intuitive, but you should use your heat-styling tools on their highest setting. If you prep and protect your hair beforehand, this shouldn’t do any extra damage, unless you repeatedly heat-style one section of hair, effectively frying it. The reason for this is that heat will damage your hair whether it’s at 200 or 300 degrees. A higher, hotter setting means that your hair is dried quicker and less heat overall is applied, so less damage.
3. High Road Or The Flat Road? Heat styling is no flippant matter! You should know whether you’re going for a voluminous style or a sleek flat style before you start heat-styling. “Decide at the beginning of the blowout if you are going for a voluminous style or a smooth flat style—that way you are intentionally achieving it with the right products, tools, and techniques,” Devin reiterates. This will also make the blowout go a lot faster.
4. Concentrate. You know that extra nozzle tip that comes with your dryer? Don’t throw that away. You’re going to want to use that to concentrate the hot hair down the hair shaft, so it smooths the cuticle, making your hair appear smoother. Also, use your cold button to cool a section of hair you’ve just heat-styled to set it while it’s still wrapped around the brush. If you try blow-drying waves with a brush and don’t cool it before brushing it out, the hot hair will just fall limp.
5. Finish It Off. Once your hair is dried and styled to your liking, you’re probably tempted to throw a bunch of product in there to make it stay put. Not so fast. “Don’t only rely on finishing products because they will way the hair down throughout the day. Instead, use lightweight products on damp hair beforehand that, when heated, [they] will work into the hair while allowing the heat to evaporate any excess.” Hairspray is probably your best bet to hold a style. If you choose to use any texturizing paste, only apply to the ends of hair so as not to weigh down the shaft, unfurling a style. To make your life easier, Toth suggests, “remember to consistently get haircuts every 6–8 weeks to clean up the shape. A fresh shape is way easier to style then a shape that’s made up of old split ends.” That goes for those of you who don’t even necessarily heat-style on a regular basis. Even your natural hair texture will sit better and be easier to work with when the shape is right.