9 Things That Should Never Happen At A Blowdry Bar

If there's anything better than a good blowout, it's having someone else do all that heavy lifting for us (not to mention, in under an hour and for less than $50). And while most of our experiences at blowdry bars have been awesome, we’ve also witnessed our share of sketchy practices. There’s the dangerous stuff that can cause breakage and split ends, and the downright lazy stuff that can mean the difference between a blowout that frizzes as soon as you walk out the door and one that’s still going strong a week later.

Ahead, we’ve rounded up nine of the most common blowdry-bar eff-ups — plus how your stylist should be doing things, so that you know what to ask for instead. (Good news: If you're attempting a blowout at home, these tips will work for you, too.)


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Carelessly Detangling
“When hair is wet, it can stretch up to 30% of its length, and when it stretches it can easily break,” says Eva Scrivo of the Eva Scrivo salons in New York City. “Your stylist should always detangle with a brush gentle enough to do the job, without pulling and further stretching the hair.”

So, really, the only things that should touch your hair during that post-shampoo, de-snagging session are either a wide-tooth comb or a brush specifically designed for wet hair. (Pros love The Wet Brush.) Round brushes, vent brushes, and brushes with missing or wonky-looking bristles are major no-nos.

The Wet Brush Earth Collection Bamboo Brush, $29.99, available at Dermstore.
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Using A Metal Brush
Blowdry bars love them because they’re built for speed. Problem is, the same thing that makes them timesavers can make them murder on your hair. “Metal brushes dry fast because they get extremely hot, but that means they’re also very damaging to your hair,” says hairstylist Nunzio Saviano of the Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City. “I can always tell when my clients go to blow bars, because they come in with broken hairs around the hairline.”

Instead, ask your stylist to grab that boar-bristle brush from the next station over. Boar is the perennial fave for its ability to grip the hair well and boost shine — even if it takes a little longer.

Bumble and Bumble Round Brush, $85, available at Bumble and Bumble.
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Holding The Blowdryer Wrong
First off, space is a biggie. Even though there should always be at least an inch between the dryer nozzle and the brush, we still see stylists getting way too up-close-and-personal with our strands. “Touching the end of a hot dryer to the brush is a lazy, damaging move that kills your hair and causes frizz,” says hairstylist Matt Fugate.

The direction in which the stylist points the blowdryer matters, too. “The nozzle should always be parallel to the hair to close the cuticle, polish the ends, and create a shiny, long-lasting blowdry,” says hairstylist Sarah Potempa. If the dryer is held perpendicular to the hair, or (heaven forbid) up in the opposite direction of the hair, it raises the cuticle instead of smoothing it shut, which ends up creating exactly what you don’t want: split ends, breakage, and — as Fugate puts it — “frizz central.”

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"Fixing" Your Blowout With Hot Tools
Rough-drying (a.k.a. quickly pre-drying strands using only a blowdryer and a tousle of the hands) can be an important step that gets the moisture out of your hair before your blowout, ultimately making it faster for the stylist and less damaging to your strands.

But there still needs to be a blowout in there. Your stylist should be going over every inch of your hair with a brush and a dryer to smooth it out, before he or she even thinks about breaking out a curling iron or flat iron to do the job. “Otherwise, the stylist is forced to rely more on the flat iron, which means applying more heat to the hair over a more extended period of time, which can be damaging,” says Scrivo. “Also, the blowdry will lack movement and shine, and just won’t last as long.”

Harry Josh Pro Tools 2-In-1 Ceramic Marcel Curling Iron 1", $150, available at Dermstore.
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Neglecting To Do All The Roots
Many stylists only focus on the roots around your face and the top of the head — but that’s a big mistake. Be sure your pro is lifting up and away from the roots with every section. “This is the difference between a blowout lasting a couple days versus the roots falling flat by the next morning," says Potempa.

Pureology Colour Stylist Root Lift, $25, available at Ulta.
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Overdosing On Product
Heat protectant plus straightening cream plus serum plus hairspray may make your hairstylist’s job easier, but product overload is also shortening the lifespan of your blowout. “Too much product makes hair look greasier, faster,” says Fugate.

When your stylist asks if it’s okay to use products (and he or she should ask this), say that you're trying to keep your blowout for as long as possible so you’d prefer to go easy on them. And, unless you’ve just gotten curls that you don’t want to fall flat, skip the end-of-the-appointment hairspray spritz. Says Fugate: “Dirt and smoke in the air sticks to hairspray and makes your hair look dirty.”

Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray, $68, available at Birchbox.
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Trying To Beat The Clock
One of the biggest reasons blowdry bars manage to be so affordable is that they bank on cranking through a ton of blowouts in as little time as possible. That’s why many bars schedule their appointments in increments of as small as 30 minutes. Totally fine if you have fine hair or a lob — not so much if you have tight curls or thick, waist-length strands.

“Blowdry bars are assembly lines, and that doesn’t work for all types of hair,” says Fugate. “Fifteen minutes may be enough for some people, but for others you need a full hour.” To avoid getting a rush job next time, note whether you have long or textured hair when you make your appointment. (Put it in the “special instructions” or “comments” section — there’s usually one when you book online.) Most salons will build in extra time for your appointment. And, most importantly, this will ensure that you get the best stylist for your hair type.
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Not Asking Where You Part Your Hair
We’ve all been there. You’re nearing the end of the appointment and you’re silently watching the stylist blowdry your hair with a middle or deep side-part that's the opposite of what you normally wear. You’re thinking: She’s not really going to style it that way, right? She’s going to switch it up any minute, right? …Oh.

Sure, you can change the part later, but the blowout won’t look quite as good. And, regardless, it’s one of those things you can fix with a quick conversation the moment you sit down in the chair. “A stylist not asking you the basic questions about how you want your hair is amateur-hour,” says Fugate. “No matter what a stylist is doing, it should always be targeted at the client’s experience and her specific needs.” That means a stylist should always ask where you want to part your hair (or how loose you want your curls, or how much volume you’re looking for), instead of randomly guessing. But if he or she doesn’t, don’t be afraid to speak up.

YS Park 103 Hand In Tail Comb, $18, available at YS Park.
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Overzealous Flat-Ironing
You asked for “sleek and straight” — and walked out with “drowned rat.” Here’s why: “Flat irons should only be used from the mid-shaft of the hair down, and should not start right at the root,” says Scrivo. “Starting too high on the hair just makes it look flat.”

You should also be nervous if the stylist goes over the same piece of hair multiple times. “It’s very important not to go over the same section of hair twice — that can damage the hair and cause breakage,” Scrivo adds. And if you’re a frequent blowout customer, make the ultra-straight look an occasional (versus an every-time) thing. Says Scrivo: “Too frequent flat-ironing, even when done properly, damages the hair over time.”

GHD Platinum Styler, $199.20, available at GHD Hair.
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