Formulate user Maureen wants to know how she can save a little money on her hair care routine:
Hi Formulate! I'm seriously addicted to getting my hair blown out at the salon. They just always make it look so good! I can never get it to look that good at home. But my salon habit is starting to wear a hole in my pocket. I can't keep dropping this kind of cash! So how can I make my hair look as good as they make it look at the salon?
Thanks for your question, Maureen!
Before we get started, we'd like to note that the best thing for your hair is to let it dry naturally. We're hair health people, and we'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't point out that constant heat styling is really, really bad for your hair. So let it be known -- heat is not your hair's friend!
That being said, we know that air-drying only is not realistic for everyone. If you really must blow-dry your hair every day, you'll want to follow these ground rules. If your hair is curly, use a diffuser, which not only helps hold the curl but also diffuses the heat. Also, keep the blower at a low cool setting as much as possible, and hold it four to six inches from your head. And if you blow-dry all the time, at least take a break on the weekend. This is when you can condition your hair and give it special care.
Alright, now that all that's been said -- on to the ultimate blowout tutorial.
Not all hair dryers are not created equally. Weight matters -- a hairdryer that's light, not too heavy will do the job best, since you don't want to turn your blowout into a surprise workout. You'll already be blasting hot air at your head, so you won't want to do anything else that could get you sweaty while styling your hair. It also helps if your hair dryer is on the medium to small side, so you'll be able to maneuver it deftly while drying your hair. A cool button is also important -- you can touch up your look by pumping cool air back into the hair. A 1,200 to 1,500-watt dryer is powerful enough for most women: if your hair is thick or coarse, however, you may need 1,700 watts. It can also be super helpful to get a dryer with nozzle attachments. These bad boys can direct the heat when you want your hair extra straight and smooth.
You know in the movies when the hero comes out of the shower, drying his hair as hard as he can? That's exactly what you shouldn't be doing. Blot your hair with a fluffy absorbent towel to remove excess water. Never ever, ever rub your hair with a towel, as this can harm your cuticle.
There's a reason why stylists section their clients' hair when blow-drying. Doing so provides control over tension, heat and airflow. Divide your head into four quadrants and use large clips to hold each section in place as you blow-dry.
Before any heat is applied to your hair, apply your heat protectant spray. Spray it evenly across your tresses so that there are no places where your hair is left vulnerable to the heat.
Then, hang your head upside down as you blow dry from roots to ends. Don't blow into the hair, as this can damage the hair cuticle. We want the air to come from above the hair, so the cuticle isn't damaged.Always direct the blow-dryer down toward the floor: this smooths the hair and prevents frizz
Begin blow drying at the nape of the neck and work your way upward. Never take a section that's wider than your brush. Their depth should be about 1″ to 1 1/2″, depending on the density of your hair.
Dry the under layers first. To add height or volume to the top of your hair, lift the hair from the roots with your fingers (or use your round vent brush or paddle brush) and blow-dry at the roots. For wavy or curly hair, hold the diffuser into the hair (with your head straight up) and work your way around your head, from bottom to top (do not use a brush).
Hold the brush in your dominant hand (the hand you write with) and the blow dryer in the other one, keeping them about 1/2″ apart. Position the dryer parallel to the brush. Never put the nozzle directly on the brush, as it will burn the blower motor out, damage the brush's bristles and burn your hair.
85% is the magic number. Over drying can strip your hair of essential moisture, bounce and elasticity, and give you a ton of static. Only start styling and shaping your hair when it is 85% dry. You'll know that you've reached 85% when your hair is a smidge damp, not dripping.
If you want your hair to be extra straight, use the round brush at your roots. The rubber grips the hair and allows you to pull it taut. If you are able to get the first two inches from the roots straight, the rest of the hair will follow. And if you don't, watch for that mid-morning natural wave to bounce back.
When the under layers are dry, use your brush to shape the top layer. Put the bristles against your scalp, turn and lift back small sections of hair, and curl them under until dry. Finish styling with a shot of cold air, which "sets" the style and makes your hair shinier. Try and work methodically through the drying, heat the hair in the brush and when it's dry allow it to cool. Imagine the hair is like wax, when it's hot it'll do what you want, and when it's cold it stay where you left it, even if you don't necessarily want it there.
Wanna learn more about the ins and outs of haircare? Here's what you should read next:
5 tips for getting your natural curls back
Buh bye, flyaways!
Your how-to guide for dealing with curly hair in the humidity.
Everything you need to know about oil training your hair
Let's curl that hair!