How can I achieve a professional blow-dry at home? I watch so carefully whenever I’m in the salon, and yet I can’t seem to do it as well. It’s always a patchy finish or it drops immediately. What am I missing?
Ah, blow-drying. Much like those videos of people speed-slicing mango or julienning carrots into spaghetti-thin strips, you watch a professional do it and think, I can do that. You’re just moving your wrists. I can move my wrists. And then you’re sat at home and suddenly, no. No you can’t do it at all. You’re getting hot and bothered and you’re left with hair that’s only dry at the front.
That being said, there are some guiding principles that can make things a lot easier. I am a blow-dry fiend, and in order to keep my credit rating in check, I’ve had to learn how to do it myself. If a DryBy blow-dry is a 10, I would say I can achieve a healthy 7.5, and I’ll take it.
My advice is to invest in a lightweight hairdryer to minimise cramping. My favourite is the ghd Air, £99. It’s powerful, not super loud, the concentrator nozzle is tight and the cool setting is a godsend. You'll also need a good handful of sectioning clips and to rough-dry your hair to almost totally dry to start. But I am just an enthusiastic punter, so I asked Maxine Cooke, a creative stylist at John Frieda (and who also gave me a solid 10/10 blow-dry last week) for her tips.
"A good foundation is the start of all good blow-dries. If your hair is too soft and silky, your blow-dry won’t last," cautioned Maxine. "Use products that will create some texture through the hair, and then once the foundation is in, you can start to create shape with a round brush and hot air." Some of my favourites are Aveda Speed of Light Blow Dry Accelerator, £21 (this cuts down my blow-dry time by at least a third), Kérastase Ciment Thermique, £23.80 (I’ve yet to meet a hairdresser who doesn’t stockpile this) and Living Proof Restore Smooth Blowout Concentrate, £26 (when I need humidity protection, but then I like a smooth, polished blow-dry). For more of a beachy, slept-in finish, look to something like Shu Uemura Art of Hair Muroto Volume Mist, £25.90, which helps bulk up the hair with touchable texture.
"How the hair cools down is very important," added Maxine. Essentially, heat renders your hair pliable, but the cool-down sets the style. "Most hairdryers have a cool button or setting which you should take advantage of," said Maxine. "Use it on each section as you go to set the hair, as if your hair is still warm the hair will drop back to its natural texture."
Now, the nitty-gritty. "If you have long hair that’s prone to frizz, it’s better to squeeze any excess water out with a towel, then start from wet, as this will help smooth the hair and prevent you from over-drying your hair which can lead to more frizz and the potential of burning your hair," she said. "But if your hair isn't that frizzy, I would suggest rough-drying your hair to 70-80% and then start your blow-dry. This will cut your drying time down and save the dreaded arm ache."
The same applies for medium-length hair, with Maxine noting that it’s important to try and keep as much of your natural texture in as possible. "The beauty of short hair is it tends to dry quicker; although this is a massive positive for most, it can be a pain if your hair needs taming," said Maxine. "Towel-dry the hair well, then go straight in with your hairdryer. There's no need to rough-dry for short hair."
My other pointer would be that you need to take smaller sections of your hair than you think. I’m sorry, I know you want to be done fast, but taking huge five-inch chunks will result in dry ends, damp roots and general misery. Take some deep breaths, stay hydrated and stretch beforehand. You've got this.
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