Did you know that there are actually right and wrong ways to blow dry your hair? It’s true! Most people just blast the dryer on high heat to remove moisture fast and then go on with their styling regimen. The truth is that you can actually damage your tresses with improper use of the appliance, roughen up your hair by drying against the cuticle, and even create a more difficult time styling the hair if strands are not adequately prepped.
To make sure your blowout is both safe and effective, we reached out to Christinah Nicolaisen of Nikita Hair Salon. This busy stylist co-owns 144 salons and 7 hair academies in both the United States and Scandinavia and is also co-founder of Eleni & Chris, a Scandinavian hair care line. Below, Christinah gives us the 4-1-1 on proper blow-drying prep and techniques.
What are some of the top mistakes people make when blow-drying their own hair? How can they overcome the issues?
One issue is spending too long with your wet hair wrapped up in a towel. Many people tend to leave their hair in the towel for 20 or 30 minutes, which is too long; your hair will be too dry and difficult to manage to get the blow dry you want to achieve.
Only spend a few minutes with your head wrapped in a towel and let it air dry for a few minutes more. When to blow dry the hair depends on hair type: fine-to-medium hair can dry to about 80 percent dryness, whereas thicker hair should only be about 50 percent dry before blow-drying, as it is easier to manage while it’s still a little damp.
Using the wrong products or not using products at all. The top recommendation for everyone: heat protectant! Blow drying removes moisture from hair, so using a leave-in product to add moisture and protect is absolutely key. A leave-in spray or cream works as a moisturizer for the hair, and it will make the hair much smoother to handle on the brush while blow-drying it.
What is the importance of prepping the hair and how is it done?
Prepping is essential because you are creating a foundation to build your blow dry. In addition to the correct dryness and leave in product, you can avoid frizz by towel-drying the hair in a gentle way. A significant cause of frizz is when rubbing the towel too aggressively over your hair, this can cause damage. Avoid this by gently pressing the towel on your hair to soak up excess water.
Is thermal protection important? Why and how?
Yes, it is very important because when you apply a heat protectant, it immediately forms a layer over the hair shaft that locks in hydration and acts as a protective barrier to protect the hair from the heat of your hair tools.
How can someone achieve volume and body but not end up with flat hair?
To stop your hair from falling flat and achieve that big, bouncy blow-dry, you need to section the hair and blow dry to create height at the crown. Start with a volume spray that will provide brush-ability and volume on towel-dried hair. Apply volume spray to the roots and through the length. Start blow-drying and keep the brush as close to the roots as possible, following it with the hairdryer as you direct the hair upwards using tension. Make sure that you use small sections and thoroughly dry every section from the roots to the ends.
Is there a difference in types, technologies, and wattage of dryers? Do you have a favorite?
The contemporary and new generation of hair dryers are designed to give maximum volume and shine with minimum frizz, time and noise. My personal favorite is GHD Air Hair Dryer as it is powerful with 2100W yet lightweight and has a comfy handle. It is a dryer which is easy to move around without making your wrists tired. It also has all the features that are needed to create a great blow dry, including three temperature settings, three-speed modes, great precision nozzle and is well designed for right and left-handed users.
When should someone add the use of a concentrator to their dryer?
Concentrators are an absolute must for anyone that wants a smooth finish. It helps concentrate the airflow directly onto the hair you’re working on, rather than blowing your strands all over the place. It helps you control frizz and precision so you can achieve a beautiful blow dry.
Is there a right and wrong way to hold a dryer or point it onto the hair (general drying)?
Never touch your hair with your hair dryer. Depending on the effect you are after, hold the hair dryer between 1 and 6 inches away. You’ll need to use two different techniques when blow-drying your hair. At the roots, you want to blow in the opposite direction the hair falls (for lift). For the length and ends, take the opposite approach and blow in a downward direction (the same direction of the cuticle). You want to go with the grain of the hair, so strands come out smooth, shiny, and silky, not dull and rough.
What are the best ways to ensure that a blowout lasts?
The hair has to be super-clean, as any dirt, oil or product residue that is left behind will impact how well your blow dry comes out and how long it will last. Always shampoo twice. Finish with hairspray: after the hair is completely dry, give the strands a spritz of hairspray to lock the style in. Also, avoid running your hands through your hair, especially after using hand cream.
Photos: Shutterstock | Kevin Laminto