The Art of Blow Drying and Styling
by Shelly Ballestero
Blow drying and styling your hair can be a difficult task, depending on your hair's texture. Every type of hair needs different styling products, tools, and time. You also have to determine what style you want for the day. So you need a maximum of four things to achieve a great style-shampoo and conditioner, prestyle products, proper tools, and finishing products. You might not need all of these if you want a simple style.
Shampoo and conditioner are important for your style, because they create the foundation. The right shampoo and conditioner can also help remedy any challenges you might have with your hair-frizz, breakage, color fading, etc. If you need volume in your style, use a volumizing shampoo and conditioner; if you need to add shine or softness to your hair, start with a smoothing and moisturizing shampoo and conditioner; and so on.
A prestyle product is any product used to prepare your hair for blow drying. Again, depending on the style you want, you need to use the proper prestyle products. On wet hair, these products help make your morning so much easier. For volume you need a volumizing mousse and a root lifter. For shine and control you need some type of shine serum and maybe a straightening crème. Be sure to ask your stylist what she or he recommends for your hair to achieve your style.
Once you have established a good foundation with your shampoo and conditioner and have prepared your hair, it's time to use your tools. Make sure you invest in a good blow dryer (see the "Hair Candy" section below for suggestions). A good blow dryer can make all the difference. They really are not all created equal. Weak dryers will take three times as long to get the job done. Some of the inexpensive dryers can get too hot and burn your hair. Ionic dryers are great and won't burn your hair.
Brushes are important as well. The right size brush will determine how much movement your hair will have. The bigger the round brush, the straighter your hair will be. The smaller the round brush, the more movement, or curl, your hair will have. Paddle brushes are great for naturally straight hair that needs minimum smoothing and volume. There is a difference between a boar's hair, or tighter bristle brush, and a plastic or metal bristle brush. The boar's hair, or a tighter bristle brush, won't brush through big sections of hair. They will give you maximum smoothing, but you have to work in very small sections. A metal or plastic bristle brush is easier to use on yourself, because you can work in bigger sections of hair and you will still achieve a smooth style. Flat irons and curling irons take a little extra time but can really make a difference in your style. Make sure when you use a flat iron that you also use a leave-in conditioner in your hair and a thermal protection, especially if you use it everyday.
Finishing products are important as well. They can give you that extra shine, volume, humidity protection, definition, hold, softness, and texture. After you have spent time on your blow dry, you need to make sure your hair will live through the day. That's what finishing products do. Shine sprays and glosses are a great way to finish long smooth and flowing hair. Hairsprays and waxes can help keep volume and style in your hair. Waxes and pomades create texture to all lengths of hair. This last step really helps determine what your hair will do for the rest of the day.
How to Smooth Out Your Hair with Your Blow Dryer
1. Remove Dampness
Once you've prepared your hair with the proper shampoo, conditioner, and prestyle products, you can start your blow dry. Remove excess water by blow drying your hair every which way. If you start your actual style on sopping wet hair, it will take you twice as long.
2. Section Your Hair
Depending on the density of your hair, you will need to divide your hair into three to four sections, which makes it easier to control. Keeping your sections nice and neat saves time and frustration. Make one section across the nape, below the earlobes. Your next section can extend from there to the crown of your head or you can divide that in two, including the sides depending on the density of your hair. And your last section is a horseshoe section on the top of your head.
3. Start Your Blow Dry
With the proper brush, make sure you really smooth that hair out. Use your brush as an extension of your hand. Make sure you get enough heat on those ends to ensure maximum smoothing. Don't worry too much about the heat on your hair, because you have already prepared your hair with a leave-in conditioner and a thermal protection. Once that first section is dry, go back over it until you are satisfied with the shine and smoothness. When you think you've dried enough, dry some more. Getting a good amount of heat and brushing to the hair will give you salon-quality smoothness and shine. Move on to the next section when you're ready. Since you've already sectioned your hair, all you have to do is remove the next clip, without stopping in between to take another section. Simply drop the next section down.
4. Give Your Hair Movement
If you want more of a bend or curl to your hair, use a smaller round brush on your ends. Hold the dryer to your ends as they are wrapped around the brush. Move the dryer back and forth across the brush ensuring that you don't keep the heat in one spot for too long. Once you achieve the curl or bend you want, move on to other sections at your ends.
5. Give Your Hair Volume and Lift
Once your back and sides are dry, you're ready for the last section on the top. For a more voluminous top, blow dry your roots in the opposite direction you want them to lay. In other words, up and forward, side to side. This will prevent your hair from lying flat, and with that root lifter and mousse you used, it shouldn't be difficult to achieve. At the crown, blow dry those roots forward and up. On the top sides, blow dry to the opposite side your hair will be laying. And at the very top of your head blow dry forward. Once the roots are dry, then you can go back and redirect the ends in the direction they need to go. Here you can finish your ends straight, with a curl, or a bend, depending on your look and style for the day.
6. Finish and Lock In Your Style
If you have a fringe (bangs), the easiest way to make them lay perfect is to blow dry them side to side and the redirect the ends down, to the side, or however you wish to wear them. All that's left is to use the proper finishing product to keep your volume, shine, softness, texture, or curl. This will keep your hair looking and feeling great all day.
If you need help, simply ask your stylist to teach you the best and easiest ways to style your hair. Always use the products and tools your stylist recommends. A good stylist knows that if you can't duplicate your style at home, it's his or her job to teach you. Be patient and keep at it. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of practice and patience.
Tip: Once hair is dry, tip it forward and give it a blast with cool air. I will seal the style for awhile.
This article is a glimpse of some of the beauty information you will find in Shelly Ballestero's upcoming book "Beauty by God."