Have you ever attempted a red-carpet-magazine-shoot style blow dry at home? That is, without ripping out most of your precious hair follicles or frazzling the ends from holding the hair dryer too close? No, me neither.
Try as I might, attempts at the illusive blow dry have left my hair a tangled, frizz-fest. But just because we’re skint and can’t justify a salon visit right now, doesn’t mean we want shit hair as well. That’s why I spoke to some top experts to find out, once and for all, how the hell to get that bouncy, Anna Wintour blow dry at home.
It’s All About The Prep
This might be stating the obvious, but prep begins when you wash your hair so you need to pick the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. A volumising shampoo and conditioner will help you get that extra body into the hair from the off, especially those of you with finer hair, although using it on a thicker barnet won’t hurt either.
Another trick if your hair is a little on the flat side is to apply mousse after washing to help create volume once you start drying it. Sam Burnett, KMS Ambassador, agrees: ‘Product is key. Layer mousse through the hair and use a comb to help distribute it evenly.’
Or you could even go for a root-boosting product instead. Those primer-type products designed to hold your desired style once you start drying it are really good at helping to achieve an envy-inducing blow dry.
Ana Gomes, hair stylist at Blo Blow Dry Bar, recommends using detangler too, especially if you bleach your hair as it tends to be coarser. ‘UNITE 7SECONDS Conditioner is great because it’s really light and doesn’t leave the hair greasy,’ she says. Plus, you’ll be happy you used it when you start rolling your brush through it.
Remember, there’s a fine line though. Piling on the products, no matter how fit they make your hair look, will only weigh your hair down, which is going to prove a real ball-ache when you’re actually trying to do the exact opposite.
Get Tooled Up
Surprise surprise, hairdryers are probably the most important thing when you’re attempting a blow dry. Firstly, it’s got to have a nozzle. ‘Using a nozzle directs the air flow so it keeps the hair shaft smooth and eliminates any damage,’ says Sam.
But if you’re thinking the hotter the better, forget it. Ana says this is a no no: ‘Put it on a medium setting otherwise you’ll end up burning the hair. Too much heat on the ends makes them frizzy.’ You’ve been warned. It may take slightly longer, but if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it properly, right?
When it comes to the actual blow dry, you’re obviously going to need a brush. Barrelled brushes are the go to; if you have very long hair, a bigger barrel will make your job a lot easier. Recently, some round brushes have launched which have spines all over, including the ends. This is super handy because it stops your hair dropping off the end as you pull it through.
Once you’re tooled-up, rough dry your hair. Sam recommends rough drying it to around 80% to remove excess water. Do this with your head upside down because it’s an easy way of helping to lift the roots (root lift = big bouncy, hair). If you have curly or coarse hair, forget this step and start styling with a brush from wet because it’ll help keep frizz to a minimum.
It’s All About Technique
Now for the technique. YouTube tutorials are great for helping visual the process but here’s the key steps:
Start with your ‘T’ section – this is a panel down the middle of your head. (If you’ve ever gotten highlights, where the foils go is the T section). Divide this into three sections.
Starting with the back one, hold the brush underneath the hair (never on top, remember, we’re constantly trying to lift the hair, not bring it down!) and the hairdryer at the front of it, moving the brush through to the end. ‘Do the T section first because it’s where you want most of the root lift and this lets it set for longer,’ Ana explains.
Move the brush and hair dryer slowly over each section – you might want to keep the brush twirling through the end for longer to make sure you get that slight curl.
As you do each section, roll the hair underneath itself and around your index and middle finger, and pin it in place – it will look like you’ve got invisible rollers in.
Repeat this all over the head, next going for the side sections, and then working on the back.
Right now you’re probably rocking a WAG-esque hair style. Nice. Give the ‘rollers’ a spritz of hair spray and let them cool and set for five minutes. You could even give them a gentle once over with the hairdryer on a cool setting because it helps hold the style by closing the hair shaft.
Start unpinning from the back leaving the T section should be last and then put your head upside down and softly massage your scalp to loosen the hair. Whatever you do, don’t brush it or run your fingers through it. The bounce will fall out and you'll be left with bog-standard hair meaning time would have been better spent watching Friends for the 68th time (which, FYI, is always a good use of time). Finish off with another spritz of hairspray.
If you’re keen to prolong your blow dry’s life and impress your work mates on Monday, there’s a few tricks you can try. Ana suggests rolling the curls up again and pinning them whilst you sleep to keep the body. Alternatively, put your head upside down and bring your curls to the front of your head and secure them in a hair net (hey, Nora Batty) so you’re not sleeping on them.
Dry shampoo will also give you a leg up. ‘Dry shampoo is best used on freshly washed hair because it absorbs any excess grease that you’ve already got and prolongs the life of your wash. Massage it into the roots,’ Ana recommends.
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Photographed by Trey Wright
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.