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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
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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:

  1. 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).
  2. I was blowing the wrong direction, therefore opening up my cuticle and CREATING frizz.
  3. I was putting the dryer far too close to my hair while it was still really wet (more frizz and damage).
  4. I had no real order and started in the wrong place.
  5. I was doing it WAY too fast, creating more frizz.
Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Wrong 1

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.

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Wrong 2

So yeah, the finished product, as you can see, is not great. Let’s move on to how you are SUPPOSED to do it:

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 1

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).

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 2 New

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.

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 3

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.

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 4

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.

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 5

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.

Emily Henderson How To Blow Dry Right 7

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:

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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.

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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

  1. Did you have to pay her the same amount as if she did it? So much work! I am with you but I would have quit half way through.

  2. So relatable. I actually think hair is what makes many celebrities look like celebrities. I don’t mean the goddesses, I mean the real looking beauties like Jennifer Anniston or Elizabeth Moss. That said, every day hair is JUST fine. You do not need to spend the time when you have other life goals. But when you need to it’s good to know how. And it’s always good to protect your hair. I love everything your tutor said including the products. Love Bumble and Bumble for my coarse (think horse hair) wavy hair too. I also recommend air dry foam by Ouai. Even if you use a dryer it helps. May your hair be beautiful but your life much more interesting,

  3. So I see I’ve been blow drying my all wrong too, I’ve had the exact same problem, it’s great at the salon but doesn’t look anywhere near as good when I blow dry it straight so I usually don’t even bother. Thank you so much for this. I’m going to be giving this a try. 😀. Pretty straight and shiny hair here I come.

  4. This is so helpful and your hair looks amazing! What did Janine recommend for shampoo and conditioner? Or do you skip conditioner because of the invisible oil and conditioning balm? Thank you!

    1. Depending on your hair type and texture also what results you want. Is how you best pick the shampoo and conditioner (and yes still use a conditioner even when u use a leave in). We have a fun quiz for hat helps pick the right shampoo and conditioner for you. At Parlour.com
      Wishing u hair success !

      1. Thanks so much!

  5. I’m so curious what your hair would look like if you washed it at night, let it air dry for a bit and then touched it up in the morning with the curling iron. That’s what I do!

    1. Yes!!! I think Emily’s hair would look great doing this.
      The “After” looked really good Emily! But I liked the “Before” too. 😛
      I appreciate the product recommendations! I’ve been thinking I should start using heat protection, I might just try Bumble!

    2. That’s what I do! The least amount of heat you can get away w the better

      1. This √√√√
        Absolutely. My curling iron is fifteen minutes of well spent effort and that’s it. If my hair has enough texture it will stay for a few days as well. Not combing it out after a night of sleeping on it is the key.

  6. Can you ask Janine how she styled HER hair? Her length and texture is similar to mine but her style is 10x more glamorous!

    1. Hi Aimee! I used the bumble and bumble curl cream and primer spray. I wash about every 3 days. In the morning I re wet with the curl prime and scrunch in the curl cream as needed. Also love Davines oi shampoo and conditioner for curly thick hair All available on Parlourh.com

  7. You’re hair is damaged mostly because they are toning your hair. Your hair is too fine to handle it. Mine is the exact same except I’m way darker than you. I stopped toning my hair two years ago and it’s finally stopped being a mess. Just old school highlights is the way to go. Wide tooth comb, no brushing, and I would suggest air dry over towel. Towel drying causes a lot of breakage. Hope that helps!

  8. I would love a video on IGTV including curling steps!! I feel like I was raised in such a no-beauty-tips household I’m having to learn everything so late in life!!

  9. Your post says to use a pea-sized punt of the invisible primer and work it through the hair, but isn’t that product a spray? I’m confused, please help save my hair too!

    1. It’s actually a few sprays of the primer and a quarter size of the straight cream. Of course dial up or down depending on your length and density

  10. Looks good! What does it look like down?

  11. And now I understand why Dry Bar has been such a runaway success. The tension, angles, and variety of brushes and products is too much work for the person with the hair. So much easier to perform standing up and behind someone vs. doing it to yourself. I think you’d look really cute with a blunt chin-length bob that you mostly let go natural.

    1. This is a great post. Clearly your friend is a real pro:).

      FWIW, which is kind of nothing I get it, ever since you did that hair makeover post I’ve wished you’d stop using the extensions, stop toning and damaging, and have hair faith for a little while. During the grow out time you could always just put it up. Get your hair as healthy as you can, to shoulder length, and then see where it goes from there.

      I know, you’re you, this is just photos, etc. etc. etc. Please feel free to ignore me:).

  12. How can you evenly distribute a pea-size amount of product? I feel like this is an urban myth. I always use several times the recommended amount. ??

    And nice job! It looks great! Can’t imagine doing that routine twice in a row. Your poor arms!

    1. Ya it’s supposed to be a few sprays of the primer and a quarter size of the straightening cream. And this is a starting suggestion for even application. So of course add more ass needed for your density

  13. Beautiful hair at the end, but I also loved Emily’s makeup. Can you share the details?

  14. The good/ after definitely is less frizzy and more polished. I can see how this process is irritating. I’m a boy with thick short hair. Pomade and comb. 2 minutes. Women definitely have to put in more effort to have pretty hair. Exciting to see if these new brushes etc will help!

  15. Emily, your hair looks totally fine the way you were doing it. Maybe the after looked a little better but for 40 minutes and having to buy 4 different hair brushes? Nah, not worth it. Maybe for special occasions.

  16. Thank you for sharing all this salon secrets. It’s all very helpful. I would also like to see you wear your curly hair. Curly hair is beautiful as well and sometimes we don’t realize how much damage we cause to our hair by styling with heat. Plus, curly hair is so in right now Have you heard of the Curlygirl method?

    1. Yes I second the curly girl method!

  17. You got this Em! Your beautiful blonde hair deserves it! Omg I have bangs and it’s true! You always have to start there first!

  18. Looks great 👍! Eye opening for those of us who rush the process.

  19. I have very curly hair and have given up even trying to straight mine lately. It seems like the front goes great. The back is what I always have trouble with. No matter how much I try, It just never gets as straight as they get it in the salon. The good news is I really like my curly hair.

  20. blowdrying is too much work. I let mine air dry and then I use a flat iron. game changer!

  21. You look so pretty! I love It. I have not blown my hair dry in, no lie, years. I don’t even know where my hair dryer is; I think I got rid of it. I air dry. My once-stick-straight-now-naturally-wavy/curly hair goes straight upon brushing, so that…I don’t know what that does or means in terms of style, actually. And I have a lot of hair, which always made blow drying a drag. But should I decide to return again to that mini hurricane-maker, Ill know where to look for the correct how-to! 🙂

  22. I say splurge for a blowout 1-2x week. Unlike the rest of us, you’re on camera daily so I would consider it a biz expense. On another note entirely, your skin looks AMAZEballs and the eyebrows are on point! Nice! 👍🏻

  23. Your hair looks great either way. I like your “Before” even more than the “After”. Looks natural and cool.

  24. FOR those who can’t muster the arm strength:

    Great post. I am a beauty school dropout and still love doing hair. I’m rarely satisfied with even a salon blowout (tons of fine wavy hair that’s been bleached a hundred times). THIS TOOL (REVLON One-Step Volumizer Hair Dryer $60 at ulta, target, online) has literally cut my 40-min drying down to 18 mins (yep, I timed it). Try it if your arms get tired. I’ve recommended to friends with all types of hair and we agree it’s our desert island tool (beachy waves get old)! The oval shape allows you to get that strong tension for a smooth finish. I love this thing. I use redken anti-snap when hair is damp, joico K-pak restorative oil on ends once dried and KMS hair spray to finish. Hair spray is underrated.

    Not an ad, I’m not affiliated in any way.

    http://www.target.com/p/revlon-oval-one-step-hair-dryer-volumizing-styler/-/A-50854658

    1. Agree ! I bought the Revlon dryer a month ago and its amazing. I hate taking so long to get ready–

    2. I use something similar but from Conair, I think. I have very curly hair in the back of my head and wavy at the crown and front. I threw away all my round brushes and never looked back, and it’s been 15 years! I air dry for 20-30 minutes then section out my hair like Janine suggests and use this gadget. It was life changing.

    3. ABSOLUTELY cannot endorse this tool enough, I have a lot of fine, coarse, curly hair that traditionally takes thirty to forty minutes to blow dry. This cuts it down to about 15 and it looks WAY better and is so much smoother. Being able to do it with one hand and no tool juggling…I cannot describe how much of a game changer this is. MUST BUY!

    4. I gave up the brush and dryer routine for a similar combo product, the John Frieda brush with dryer. I get much better results, no frizz and it has settings for cool, warm, hot. I prefer the round brush to oval. I have a blunt cut and get a better finish on the ends. I do start with an ionic dryer with my head upside down until 50% dry then switch to the John Frieda for styling. Easy Peasy!

      1. Me too. Do my hair the same way with two dryers. The John Frieda dryer is a game changer. Got both my dryers on Ebay new for much less than in stores. Also do not underestimate what a natural bristle boar brush can do to add shine and lessen frizz. If you have thick or coarse hair get one with some plastic bristles but not with that little ball on the end of them. I think they break the hair more.

        Anyone have suggestions for bristle brushes? I would love to get a Mason Pearson brush but crazy expensive.

    5. Yes! This dryer has literally changed my hair’s life. I have thin, kind of damaged hair with a heavy, uneven wave and a few keratin treatments growing out and it does not air dry or regular blow dry well, I always have to follow-up with some intense straightening. With this, my hair is dry and fairly straight with some body in about 10 mins. I DID implement the “tension!” message in this post when drying my hair yesterday and it actually did make a difference. Thanks, Emily for sharing!

  25. Your hair looks great, Emily! What I’d like to know is how you pinned it back. I cannot seem to pin my hair properly. I can’t get the right amount of volume, so it just looks flat and weird. Plus my hair is fine and straight, so the barrettes fall out or slip out of place. Any tips?

    1. Noted ! We will perhaps do a how too on it

  26. This is so helpful! Thanks!! That said, you are beautiful in BOTH the before and after….and I cannot imagine going through all that except for VERY special occasions! I notice a very slight difference via the two by photo, though of course it might be way more noticeable in person. You rock!!

  27. That lipstick is looking really good on you! Thanks for this tutorial

  28. I use this microfiber hair wrap from Norwex and it’s too good not to share with you all. It’s super lightweight and comfortable. It has elastic around the edge and fastens with a button and loop so you can move around, even bend over, and it stays in place. It absorbs water from your hair so your blow dry or air dry time is shortened.
    https://shopus.norwex.biz/en_US/customer/shop/product-detail/387890

  29. Hot. Air. Brush.

  30. There’s nothing in this world more tedious than blow-drying one’s hair. I cackled at how much you hated doing it. I appreciate the hot tips though! I will remember them the one time a year I put in the effort 😁

  31. I’m really into this – despite having a different hair type and literally never blow drying! But I’m 36 and after two babies my hair just never came back the same. It’s pretty curly but fine and thinnish, and although I never could grow long hair even in my teens, I recently realized it hasn’t grown past my shoulders in the last year. Like… what is going on?? So I’ve been trying some new care routines and products the last few months with it (and with skincare/makeup too)… I feel like I’m getting some of the old me back, pre-little ones. It’s fun yet slightly embarrassing at the same time when I spend 30 minutes in my bathroom experimenting with fill-in extensions for volume and braid accents to my messy buns. I totally have flashbacks to 14 years old when I would come home from school and head straight to the bathroom to play with my hair for an hour. Except now my daughters are hollering through the door asking what I’m doing!

  32. i think you’d look good with your natural curl in a shorter length. Your hair would look thicker, too.

  33. This tutorial was exactly what I needed, and I watched the video as well. I had to LOL when you said you were going to watch the video over and over because you’d already forgotten most of what you’d just done. SO relatable, you said what I’ve done with other blowout videos I’ve watched! It’s like when you check your watch for the time- and immediately have to check it again because you forgot what it said. Kind of wondering how weird my bangs could look after pinning them up like that but willing to live dangerously. Thank you!

  34. This tutorial was exactly what I needed, and I watched the video as well. I had to LOL when you said you were going to watch the video over and over because you’d already forgotten most of what you’d just done. SO relatable, you said what I’ve done with other blowout videos I’ve watched! It’s like when you check your watch for the time- and immediately have to check it again because you forgot what it said. Kind of wondering how weird my bangs could look after pinning them up like that but willing to live dangerously. Thank you!

  35. Two thumbs up on this post! My hair isn’t even long or curly, but we can all appreciate knowing how to better dry our hair and I too always think, why doesn’t my hair look the same when I dry it at home versus when my stylist does?!?
    Next Emily, will you do a post on your eye makeup? It’s superb. Of course, you have beautiful eyes to begin with, but your eye liner really makes the blue pop and I love how natural it comes off. TIA 😉

  36. I use the Revlon one step volumizer hair dryer. Love it! I air dry my hair at night until 90% dry and use a product for heat and then it takes under 10 minutes to dry and style my hair. It comes out looking like I just when to the salon. The best part is that it lasts days. I might have to run the dryer thru my hair for a minute on other days just to freshen up. I have been singing the praises of this hair dryer to everyone as I find it difficult to use a brush and hairdryer at the same time.

  37. Wow wow wow. I read this post and watched the video and blew dry my hair using these tricks last night. I just have a cheap blow dryer and round brush but even using that my hair looked way better following this guide! Shiny and much less frizz! And I already always blow dry my hair and this technique did not take any longer than normal for me. Thanks for the great post!!

  38. My college age kid has extremely thick, straight, sometimes very long hair. A few years ago they asked for the Dyson for Christmas (that was all they asked for, so that’s all they got since it’s expensive and an investment). It was life changing for them. Cut drying time from 30 minutes in half. Which got me thinking about the quality of my hair dryer. Up to that point I had been using cheap $12-15 blow dryers that would break every couple of months or years, and took a long time just to dry my lob. I air dry my hair often, or just use the blow dryer to finish the look. I did research, decided to at least get a better blow dryer (I didn’t need Dyson level), landing on the T3 Cura model in white. It’s beautiful, super quiet, dries faster, and my hair looks amazing. No comparison to the quality of multiple cheap models that have been ending up in landfills. Wish I had done it sooner. I thought I was saving money, but you get what you pay for. Multiple times apparently.

    BTW, I have that recommended hair towel and I love it. I had the original and it lasted over 20 years, and just bought that as a replacement, so it’s worth it.

  39. Your hair looks so fabulous in the after! I really like the “boar brush adds shine” picture. Your face says:” I must do this, I can do this, I will finish this”. HAHA 🙂
    I have the same type of hair as you but frankly ain’t nobody got time for this. I will just stick with your before picture look and call it a day.

  40. I love your chambray top! Would you mind sharing where it’s from? 🙂

  41. You should try getting out of the shower and just adding a bit of frizz free product (try devacurl) and scrunch. Then let it air dry. Great for your hair and it will give you a more relaxed look. I’ve got fine curly hair and its in great shape.

  42. I always did the top of my head in the back first. Thanks for the tip…. I’ll be trying the bangs first and clipping process. The visuals used made it easy to follow!

  43. I’m sure someone has already mentioned this but have you looked into the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer? It gives me the closest results to a salon blowout that I’ve ever had. Easier on the arms than the blowdryer and brush method (I could never get that technique right and my arms always ached). Hope this helps.

  44. Did I miss the link to the black hair dryer?

    1. Yeah I can’t find this either. My hairdryer just died and was coming here for a reccommendation.

  45. You’re cute as hell either way! But, nice job. I don’t have the patience or arm strength to do my own blowout, so I bow down to you. =)

  46. Sounds like arm day!

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