As much as we believe in treating ourselves, beauty indulgences like weekly mani/pedis and blowouts add up. Individual sessions are typically priced around $50, and package deals still end up costing roughly $40 per blowout. For the same amount of money, you could purchase a solid mid-market blow-dryer, or get uh, 15 percent closer to a really fancy one. Either way, if you're a blowout devotee, you could end up saving hundreds of dollars a year by doing your own blowout at home. And we're here to help you finally master the technique, once and for all.
What will you need?
Well, a blow dryer, obviously. You'll also need sectioning clips and a brush. If you're after waves or bouncy volume, try a set of round brushes (like this) in a variety of sizes — different barrels will let you customize the amount of tension or bend you give your hair. And if you're going for a straighter, flatter style, invest in a paddle brush, which is great for a "shag blowout," advises Matt Fugate, a hairstylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda in New York City.
When it comes to looking for the right brush, there are a couple of different bristle types to choose from. Fugate's favorites are boar bristles, which glide through hair with minimal snagging or breaking (wire bristles are usually harsher). "If you have super-fine hair, then you can just go with a [100%] boar bristle brush," explains Fugate. "But if you have thick or unruly hair — or a lot of hair — then you want to have that mix of nylon and boar, since the nylon gives you the grip." (In the latter case, look for something along the lines of a Mason Pearson, which has both nylon and boar bristles to smooth strands while providing more "strength".)
On the products front, make sure you pick up a pre-blowout balm, cream or mist; a heavier balm like R+Co.'s will give your hair body and light hold, a cream like L'Oréal's will keep strands smooth and frizz-free and a light mist like Living Proof's will give you weightless texture and light hold. In the event that your prepping products don't already offer heat protecting properties, be sure to pick up a separate product that does, like this Bumble and Bumble spray, which I'm kind of obsessed with. Another benefit of prepping with a product? It'll help retain the hair's "memory" and maintain the shape of the blowout, even after you sleep on it. Fugate's go-to for this purpose is Kérastase's L'incroyable Blowdry, which in his words, has "changed my blowout". (Fugate is also an ambassador for the brand.)
For bonus points, you can also arm yourself with a rattail comb, which will be useful for helping to section your hair. And it's not a bad idea to keep your flatiron or curling iron handy so those are easily accessible to touch up certain aspects of your style post-blowout.
Okay, let's do this
After washing and conditioning, prep your hair with whatever product you landed on from the above suggestions, depending on your hair type and desired style. Rough-dry your hair (meaning just blast it with a blow-dryer, tousling with your fingers — no need for a brush just yet) until it's nearly three-fourths dry. Then separate your hair into five sections: two at the sides, one on top and then split the back section into two.
Within each of those areas, grab a smaller, one-to-two inch section, and pull it down with your brush, angling the dryer down over it as you go. Brian Zinno, hairstylist and senior education director at the Antonio Prieto Salon, suggests holding the dryer by the nozzle — not the handle! — to get better control and offset the overall weight of the dryer. (The whole process can take a while, so trust us: your biceps will thank you.) Repeat this step, pausing to turn off the dryer to re-adjust your grip or grab a new section of hair. Zinno also recommends using your right hand to dry the right half of your head, and then switching to your left hand for the other half. (Even if you're not ambidextrous, you would be surprised at how doable that actually is — I tried it with surprisingly good results.)
The most important difference between a professional blowout and an amateur version, says Zinno, is simple. "The number-one tip to achieve salon results at home is to always blow the dryer down, [because] that's what smooths the hair and adds shine," says Zinno. "So many times because of body position, I see women blowing against the cuticle, which will produce frizz and fly aways."
However, according to Fugate, the key to a great blowout is having great control with the brush; "Just try to think of your round brush as a big velcro roller with a handle," he says. "The less you drag it through the hair, the better. You'll get a much softer blowout than if you whip the brush through the hair a million times, so if you can get it through one time and blow dry it down from your roots and wrap it around your brush, that's going to give you a better result than trying to pull from root to end and root to end."
Now that you've just spent all this time on your hair, it's not a bad idea to take some steps to make sure the results last as long as possible. A good blowout can last you anywhere from two to seven days, so to stretch out the lifespan, "refresh" your blowout with or a light mist of finishing spray like Living Proof's No Frizz Humidity Shield or a dry conditioner, like Amika's (which is ideal if your hair tends to get dry).
To maximize time between washes, an important rule to keep in mind is to try to not touch your hair too often. "I see a lot of women flipping their hair from side to side and running their hands through their hair," says Zinno, who points out that our hands usually contain surface oils and dirt that can build up on hair and make strands go limp more quickly.
You'll also want to keep moisture and humidity away, so make sure you have a good shower cap that'll allow you to suds up the rest of your body without risking your blowout. This one by Shhhower Cap repels moisture, is made from a material that won't exacerbate frizz and is actually kind of chic, too.
Voilà! The at-home blowout, demystified.
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