This is probably my most-requested tutorial. I get more questions about my hair than I do about anything else fashion related. These questions range from how I style my hair to what my hair looks like naturally to what products I use to where I go to get it colored. These are all great questions, but today I’d like to focus on how I style it and what products I use.
With all due humility, I have to say that I’ve gotten pretty darn good at blow drying my hair in the last few years. I wasn’t always good at it, and there’s one very good reason for that: my hair is naturally dry and frizzy and unmanageable (just scroll down to see the pictures). I spent a good chunk of my adolescence and early-adulthood firmly believing that I just wasn’t capable of styling my hair straight. I tried putting gels and scrunching agents in it to help it curl, but it always fell somewhere between curly and straight (a.k.a. wavy) and I just was never happy with it.
One day, toward the end of college, I got my hair colored and cut at the local Aveda salon and as I watched the stylist blow out my hair post-cut I thought to myself: I really should be able to do this. At that point I embarked on a quest that took me several months to really nail down the perfect blow out routine. What I’m about to share with you is the result of many hours of trying various techniques, many dollars worth of testing styling creams and gels, and many years of really perfecting exactly how to hold the brush and the dryer to maximize straightness and minimize frizz.
What follows below is how I style my hair nearly every single day. I do this before work. It only takes me five minutes. That’s right: five minutes. The trick, as you’ll see, is to start with dry hair. My daily routine involves hitting the gym after work, showering, letting my hair air dry, then waking up in the morning and doing a five minute blowout before work. This routine is really key for thick hair like mine–a regular blowout from fully wet-to-dry takes too long to do on a regular basis.
Alright, enough preamble. Let’s get into it!
|blow dryer||–||BaByliss ($60)|
|smoothing cream||–||Garnier Fructis ($3)|
|rat tail comb||–||Conair (~ $2)|
First, the tools. I hope you’ll note with satisfaction that there are surprisingly few of them. Throughout my research I found that there is really one key to a good blowout: a good hairdryer. You need a ceramic hairdryer. Not only do ceramic dryers slash total drying time down to a fraction of what cheap dryers can do, they also keep frizz at bay. I’ve used this particular dryer for almost ten years now, and I’ve had to replace it just once during those ten years. My first one gave out after about five years–first the casing cracked and then the heating unit went on the fritz. But a five-year lifespan seems pretty decent to me.
As for everything else, I found that drug store creams and gels did just as well as the fancy stuff. After trying many different types of smoothing gels, serums, and creams I landed on this smoothing cream from Garnier Fructis several years ago and have used it ever since.
Finally, the brush you choose doesn’t have to be fancy or natural-fiber or anything like that. In fact, I bought a really expensive, thick-bristled brush when I first started blowing out my hair and it was awful–it kept getting stuck in my hair. I particularly like this brush from Revlon because it combines two different bristle types to really pull hair straight but to move through hair quickly. I find that brushes made entirely of thicker, shorter bristles just tend to get caught in my hair and make it frizzier. I use the 2.5″ version of this brush, though any thickness will work just fine with the following tutorial.
1. Start with your hair dry, in its natural frizzy/wavy/puffy/kinky/whatever state.
2. Using a rat tail comb, part your hair over your dominant eye. Part your hair all the way back to the nape of your neck and pull each side to the front.
3. Brush, brush, brush.
4. This step is key. Wet your hair just a bit. I do this by running my hands under the faucet, then running them through my hair. I do this about twice for each side/half. You want your hair to be just damp enough to be style-able, but not beyond that. It takes a bit of finesse to know how much. Pro tip: don’t forget the crown of your head!
5. Take out your smoothing gel (see the tools section above).
6. Squeeze a bit into your hand. How much you use will obviously depend on how much hair you have and how frizzy your hair tends to be. For my hair I use about a quarter-sized dollop.
7. Run the gel through your hair, concentrating on the ends and the middle of your hair, avoiding the top of your head. My hair stylist once gave me a nice description for where to put gel: if you were to put your hair in a ponytail, you’d want to put your gel/cream/serum anywhere beyond the hair tie.
8. Rinse off your hands and grab your brush and your blow dryer.
Before we continue, I’d like to pause here and ask you to imagine your hair divided into different sections. We’ll focus on drying each section individually. Currently your hair is parted down the middle into two halves. If you vertically divide each section in half again, you have four quadrants of hair: left front, left back, right front, and right back. The one additional section we’ll consider is the crown of your head. Keep these in mind as we move along.
9. Turn your blow dryer on to it’s highest, hottest setting. You’ll start with the left back section of hair. Swoop your brush behind this section and point the blow dryer under your chin at the brush, angling it slightly down. You always want to point the dryer directly at the hair that’s on the brush with a slight angle down toward the floor. This is how you pull all that annoying wave and frizz out of your hair. Pull your brush down and follow it with the blow dryer.
10. When you get to the ends of your hair, twirl your brush a bit to wrap your hair around the brush and blast it for an extra second or two with the dryer to cement in a very loose curl/flip at the bottom of your hair. This helps give it just a bit of dimension. Keep going until the left back section is dry, glossy, and straight.
11. To dry the left front section, scoop the brush underneath the hair and point the dryer nozzle down at it from above. Use the same method described above of pulling the brush down and pointing the dryer at the hair the whole time. Finish the ends via twirling the brush and pointing the dryer at that twirl for a few extra seconds, as described above.
12. We’ll finish the left side of your head by drying the crown. I find that this is the step most often skipped. It’s pretty obvious why this happens–you look in the mirror and see your hair looking great from the front and you think you’re done, totally forgetting that the back of your hair is completely untouched and unstyled. To do your crown, brush your hair forward over the top/side of your head and blow dry it from behind as you do this. Doing it this way helps create more volume than just blowing it straight down the back of your head would.
13. The right side of your head will go a little faster as there’s less hair to deal with on this side. First, dry the right back section of your hair by brushing down from the inside of your hair and blowing down on it from the outside. Use the same method described above.
14. Twirl and hold on the ends for a bit of flip, as described above.
15. Use the same technique to dry the right front section of your hair–brushing down from the inside and blowing down from the outside, and twirling the ends for a bit of flip.
16. Keep going, you’re almost done!
17. Dry the right crown of your head just like you dried the left crown–brush the hair forward across the top/side of your head and blow dry it forward from the back. Brush continually as you do this.
18. Once everything is dry, run your hands through your hair to smooth everything out. If you’re still dealing with any frizz issues, now is the time to apply a small amount of serum to really get rid of this. Most of the time I don’t need the serum, but every once in a while when it’s really humid I do. I use Smooth ‘N Shine Hair Polisher, usually just a small, dime-sized dollop.
19. Enjoy your smooth, shiny hair!