Follow these stylist-approved steps to prevent damage.

By Rebecca Norris
July 31, 2020
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Getty / Adene Sanchez

We're constantly told that using hot styling tools should be avoided as much as possible—and that's true, especially when it comes to drying our hair. While letting the air do the work is the safest way to get your hair dry after a shower or bath, we also understand that a little heat is necessary sometimes. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to blow dry your hair safely. Here, a few of the industry's top hair stylists share everything you need to know to achieve the perfect blowout, without the breakage.

Start by towel-drying.

According to R+Co co-founder and celebrity men's stylist Thom Priano, the best way to dry your hair is to start with a towel: Gently tousle your hair so that it's not sopping wet when you take the blow dryer to it.

Detangle your hair.

Trying to dry knotted hair can be quite the feat. To save yourself the struggle, be sure to use a detangler, like UNITE Hair 7SECONDS Detangler ($29.50, amazon.com). After you apply the product, comb through wet hair with a brush designed for the job—we like the Wet Brush Go Green Coconut Oil Infused Hair Brush ($14.99, target.com).

Next, apply a heat protectant.

After towel-drying your hair to absorb most of the moisture, Priano says to add in your favorite heat protectant to proactively prevent damage caused by high heat. "Most R+Co stylers have thermal protectants in them," he says. "They will help protect the hair from drying out and also protects your color from fading from the heat."

Choose the right blow dryer.

While any blow dryer will dry your hair to an extent, not all of them will do so in a timely manner—the more time the heat is on your hair, the more damage it can cause. For that reason, our stylists recommend the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer ($399, sephora.com), Harry Josh Pro Tools Ultra Light Pro Dryer ($349, dermstore.com), or Twin Turbo 2600 ($107.98, amazon.com). That said, if you don't feel skilled enough to wield a dryer and a brush at the same time, consider the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer ($59.99, ulta.com) or the Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler ($549.99, dyson.com). The latter can be used as a regular dryer, volumizing or smoothing drying brush, or a curling wand.

Put down your brush.

As much as you crave bouncy, voluminous hair, Oribe educator Adam Livermore says that there is no point in using a round brush on wet hair, as you can't build volume until hair is almost dry.

Perfect your initial blow-drying technique.

Livermore says you'll be able to dry your hair more efficiently if you move the blow dryer around less and move your hair around more instead. "Focus the air stream and work hair around it until that section is dry enough, then move on," he instructs. "Unless you have super coarse hair, pre-dry your hair until it is at least 85-percent dry before you pick up a brush."

If you're looking to enhance your natural texture, adds celebrity stylist and UNITE Ambassador, Graham Nation, let your hair air dry for a few minutes. "I love allowing your natural texture to show a bit before drying; this adds extra shape," he says. "But if you have unruly or curly hair and you like to wear it straight, I would not air dry—go right into smoothing your hair before it starts to take shape."

Be mindful of the brush you're using.

Once your hair is mostly dry, Livermore says it's safe to add a brush into the mix to create volume and style. "Just make sure to take a look at your brush," he says. "If the bristles are melted, warped, and scorched, imagine what is happening to your hair." To avoid any damage, he says to always hold your blow dryer at least two inches away from your hair and brush. "Don't touch the grate or nozzle to the brush," he urges. Now, remember, just because you're well equipped to blow dry your hair safely doesn't mean you always need to—after all, as Paul Labrecque, the artistic director of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, says, the best way to dry your hair is to let the sunshine of a summer day do the work for you.

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