Despite mastering makeup and skin-care tricks heralded by pros around the Internet, I’ve never managed to figure out how to fix my own hair. When I attempt a blow dry, I wind up with a frazzled, frizzy mess that frankly isn’t for public consumption. But at the hands of an actual stylist, my hair’s shiny, with nothing more than the help of a few styling products and some hot air.
Since I sadly don’t have unlimited funds to spend at DryBar, but still want to look like a healthy-haired pony on a regular basis, I decided it was time to learn how to blow dry my own hair. Before you laugh (because, yes, even I’ll admit it’s kind of ridiculous), just think about how much time and money, one (ahem: me) might save by mastering a professional-level blowout.
So for the sake of my mission, I hit up the new IGK Salon in Soho to take a blowdrying lesson. No, this is not an actual class that they offer, but rather the case of me begging Aaron Grenia, the salon’s founder, to teach me his magician-like ways. After nearly two hours together and a few burnt fingers on my part, I felt like a true blow dry pro. Here’s what I learned.
Steal these blowdrying secrets from the pros
1. It actually begins with the towel dry: Before you actually blow dry your hair, you need to get the excess moisture out of your strands, which, apparently, is not as simple as just shaking your head around in a towel. “The idea is to squeeze your hair, and squeeze the excess moisture out,” says Grenia, noting that if you want to be really diligent, you’ll use a cotton T-shirt. “Don’t do any of this rough drying. Not only are you giving yourself frizz, but you’re also giving it lack of light reflection, so your hair looks less shiny.”
2. Make sure your hair is really, really wet: The longer you wait to blow dry your hair after you wash it, the more likely it is that your natural texture (which, in my case, is curls), will peek through. Instead of doing your makeup and piddling around your apartment before starting your hair routine, try to schedule it as the first thing you do when you get out of the shower. If it starts to dry on its own, give your strands a spritz of water to re-moisten them. But, be sure to apply your skin care before blasting with the blow dryer, because the heat can mess with your skin.
3. Apply product section by section: It took less than three minutes into our lesson for me to realize that I had legit been styling my hair completely wrong for my entire life. Before we even turned the blowdryer on, Grenia pinned my hair on top of my head and began applying product (he used an heat protectant called Good Behavior, $32, and a hydrating leave-in conditioner spray called Thirsty Girl, $28, both from IGK) section by section. This, I learned, helps evenly distribute the product throughout your hair, instead of just concentrating it all on top.
4. Start with your hairline: While most people tend to leave the front of their hair for the very end, Grenia is actually a fan of starting with the section closest to your face. Because, as he put it, “Who cares what the back of your hair looks like?” Plus, by smoothing out the hair at the very front of your face, it will actually help to smooth out everything underneath it. Find your part, and then go for the pieces in the front. “If you control the root area, the rest will just follow,” says Grenia.
5. Ditch the brush: This was truly the most mind-blowing part of my lesson: For most of my styling session, I didn’t use a brush. Like, at all. Instead, I started by pulling the hair through my fingers to create tension. Starting with the hairline, pull a small section of your hair through your fingers, and while pulling outwards blast the section with heat.
6. Be mindful of the direction of the airflow: Throughout my lesson, Grenia was constantly correcting the way I was holding the blowdryer. Truly, the most important thing in a blowout is making sure the air is pointing the right way in order to give your hair the desired finish. “You’re going to have the direction of the airflow at the root, because the root is how the hair comes out, so the shape of your follicle is the direction of your hair,” he explained. So, if you want to smooth and straighten strands, like I do with my curls, point the blowdryer down. If you’ve got straight hair and need volume, point the nozzle toward the ceiling.
7. Brush out the ends: Once you’ve got the smoothing part down by using your fingers, the final step is to give your ends a little oomph with a round, boar bristle brush. Hold the handle vertically and wrap your hair toward your face, and point the blowdryer in the same direction as the hair is going while pulling slightly and moving the blowdryer alongside the brush. To smooth out the top layer, pull hair taught and move the blowdryer up and down along the hair shaft quickly (the same way you would move a vacuum cleaner across the floor), which will increase your shine level.
8. There’s no such thing as a shortcut: I’ll admit, I was really hoping that Grenia would reveal some secret solution for making a blowout quick and efficient, but unfortunately there isn’t one. “The way we live our lives, everything is so rushed,” he says. “But you don’t rush your skin-care routine, do you? So why would you do that with hairstyling?”
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