Turns out, I’ve been blowdrying my hair all wrong—and not only does it not look as good as it could, but I’ve been damaging it. I was recently at my friend Janine Jarman’s salon (Hairroin Los Angeles), complaining about how I can never make my hair look good on my own, and convinced that I’ll never learn, when she handed me the blow dryer and a brush and said “show me how you do it.” I did and she, horrified, said “I see…yeah. That is all wrong and now I understand why your hair is so damaged.”
She was actually relieved because this is a problem that we can solve.
To be fair my hair is a challenge and even she admits that. I used to have great long, natural looking blonde hair. Then I had two kids and proceeded to bleach and chop it and it’s never been the same. It’s curly (therefore frizzy and fuzzy) and broken (so I have to be gentle with it) and it’s actually only shoulder length so while I try to grow it out, I have extensions. It’s also naturally blonde, therefore fine. All of this makes it VERY hard for me to blow it out. The extensions are long and straight, my hair is short and curly. It’s awesome.
So to be clear, yes, I was doing it all wrong, but my hair is absolutely a challenge.
Here’s what I was doing wrong:
- I was not using product, did not have the right brush or the right hairdryer (my good one broke a while ago and so Brian picked this cheap guy up at the drugstore).
- I was blowing the wrong direction, therefore opening up my cuticle and CREATING frizz.
- I was putting the dryer far too close to my hair while it was still really wet (more frizz and damage).
- I had no real order and started in the wrong place.
- I was doing it WAY too fast, creating more frizz.
Here’s what it looked like “before” when I was done. I mean, I don’t think it looks that bad, honestly, but does it look like I just stepped out of a salon? Uh, no. It was still a little wavy, a little frizzy, not that shiny. Good enough for everyday life, but yeah, nowhere near what a pro could do.
So yeah, the finished product, as you can see, is not great. Let’s move on to how you are SUPPOSED to do it:
1. First, towel dry as much as possible. There is no reason to damage your hair by going straight to the blow dryer with soaking wet hair. I hear that this hair towel is great and apparently reduces drying time 50%. (When Arlyn was reading through, she said she actually had that towel, and it indeed made her hair dry faster…though she said maybe by like 30% but she liked it because it was felt light and not like a big lumpy heavy towel that was always flopping around on the top of her head).
2. Next, you want to protect your hair with a product. It’s not like I haven’t tried this but I honestly didn’t know what do use for my hair, how much of it to use and at what point to put it in??? Janine gave me just a few sprays of invisible oil primer and told me to work it all throughout the hair, evenly, while it is still damp. If you have hair like mine, using something that is heat protective is key. It will act as an SPF for your hair, and protect it from the sun and heat (and reduce frizz). I hate my hair feeling product heavy so at first, I resisted, but using this stuff really made a difference and my hair did not feel weighed down by product at all.
3. Use a gentle wet brush to brush out your hair. I was just using my other bristle brush and not being NEARLY as gentle as I should be. She recommended this one.
4. Then we added a quarter-sized amount of conditioning straightening balm and applied it evenly throughout my hair (avoiding the scalp, because it will get greasy).
5. First big thing I learned: You HAVE to start with bangs. Why? Because they are the most important part and it’s best to do them at the beginning before your arms are tired, while you still have the patience and before they get too dry and frizzy. She recommended using this brush, then pull the bangs to one side and blow dry pointing the blow dryer down. Repeat the same motion on the other side.
6. For my hair, Janine told me to do a flat wrap where you use the forehead to help shape and bend bangs. When bangs are almost dry, use a large metal brush, which acts as a curling tool, and pull bangs forward in a circular motion for volume.
7. Before going into sections, rake through hair using hands and blow dry (always pointing downward) to help get rid of some more moisture so you are not spending a million years drying each section.
8. Then move to the crown using a bristle brush and roll the hair under and back using SO MUCH TENSION, while pointing the blow dryer downwards and towards the back of your head. Hot tip: Tension is the key to shiny and frizz-free hair.
9. As you go along, clip sections to cool. Janine told me to clip it like there is a pretend roller in there. This allows your hair to cool down in that smooth shape.
To be honest this is where I started to get REALLY ready for this to be over. It’s so much work and as Janine kept telling me “it’s not a race,” but I just wanted to be done. My arms were tired. I was tired. But I get it. If I take the time, a blowout can last 3 to 4 days so that 1/2 hour to 40 minutes it takes to do it properly is WORTH IT.
10. Once you give yourself a pep talk to keep going (you’ve got this), move to the side sections of your hair, making your way from front to back. We used the big boar bristle roller brush for smoothness, and then moved to the metal brush to add more style, curl and movement. Angle the brush tool the direction you want your hair to go (if you want your hair down and smooth, the brush will need to be curled under your hair, as opposed to just lose like in the top right photo above).
11. Repeat for the rest of the sections of your hair. Hot tip: the sections you work with should not be bigger than the tool you are using.
To give my hair a little movement, my normal routine is to add some curl with a curling iron until it looks nice and voluminous (I did this even when I was doing everything else so. wrong.) so that’s what we did here at the end. The finished product is a lot shinier, smoother and healthier looking. And look, NO FRIZZ. You may notice the exhaustion behind my eyes from the effort, but okay fine, it was worth it.
In case you forgot what MY technique looks like next to Janine’s expert advice, here’s a side by side of the first finished job next to the new and improved blowout:
I kept saying to everyone in the office “are you sure the before is bad enough?” and they all would politely just laugh and say “yeah, it’s convincing.”
So, what do you guys think? Did I succeed? Have I just become a woman who knows how to blow out her hair? I think so.
UPDATE!! We just put up a video of the process, so go check it out if the photos aren’t doing it for you.
A HUGE thank you to Janine for taking the time to show me the tricks of the trade. She is the best and you can check out her salon here and shop ALL the products we used here (Janine was nice enough to extend a 20% discount with code “emstyled” for the full kit through the month of April. You’ll also get a free travel size product with any order).
Happy Saturday, folks. xx
***photography by Veronica Crawford for EHD