A blow-dry is sadly one of the very few beauty treatments that are virtually impossible to do on yourself. Especially one to salon standard. Let’s face it—there is no better feeling than skipping out of the salon with freshly blow-dried hair. With the magic hands of a hairstylist, flat, limp lengths can be transformed into bouncy, voluminous waves in a matter of minutes using nothing more than a hairbrush and a hair dryer.
So why is it when we try to do it ourselves at home, it’s such a palaver? With aching arms, mirror reflection confusion and dryer-inflicted burns, there is nothing remotely glamorous about blow-drying your own hair. And 99% of the time, after all of the flap and fuss, the results are so drab that you wish you hadn’t bothered.
While salons around the world are closed and we are restricted to use only the hair tools we already own, it’s understandable if your hair isn’t looking its best. In a bid to try and boost spirits (and roots), we caught up with GHD ambassador and hairstylist extraordinaire Adam Reed to reveal exactly how you can achieve salon-level blow-dry results at home.
The thing that is very often overlooked when trying to achieve salon results at home is the sheer number of products a stylist applies in one single appointment. If you’re struggling to get the lifted volume that a salon blow-dry promises, it’s likely because you’re not utilising what’s out there. Before you even plug the dryer in, Reed advises prepping the hair for maximum volume. “Prep hair with a root-lift spray. Start at the roots, and then comb it through the ends,” he says.
We know that we should be using heat protectant every time we blow-dry our hair, but that doesn’t mean we all do. When reaching for the straighteners or tongs, it’s almost instinctual to ensure you’re protecting your strands with some sort of heat-safe product first. However, when it comes to using the dryer, we often forget about the damage we’re inflicting on our hair.
“Lightly mist a heat protect spray all over the hair, lifting the hair as you go to ensure even coverage,” says Reed. And if you think this step won’t make a huge difference to the results of your blow-dry, you’d be sorely mistaken. Unlike your standard at-home blow-dry, the level of heat that your hair is subjected to when carrying out a professional-style blow-dry is more directed and intense. Not taking the necessary steps to protect each strand can cause splitting, frizz and long-term damage.
Now comes the tricky part. First of all, before you start reaching for the styling brush, it’s important to make sure your hair is mostly dry. “Hair should be about 85% dry before you start styling with your dryer. Dry the hair on a low heat setting and only use the hotter setting for finishing touches,” says Reed.
Once you’ve rough-dried your lengths, you’ll want to take a large radial brush (the bigger the brush, the greater the movement) and start working it through your lengths. Reed explains, “Start at the base and move the brush along the hair, following closely with the hair dryer.”
Despite what you think you might have seen, it’s important to keep the hair dryer moving in the same direction. “Many women move the dryer up and down over each section of the hair, or just hold the dryer in one place. That’s wrong! The nozzle of the dryer should always follow the brush continually, facing the direction of the brush. Go over the same section several times until fully dry and smooth.” Be sure to work from the nape up to the top of the hair.
We have to admit we had never even thought about this one. It turns out that adapting the heat settings on your dryer throughout the blow-drying process makes all of the difference. “Always dry on a medium setting, but then smooth each section with a cool blast at the end,” says Reed. He advises keeping your thumb on the cool button throughout and pressing down when you’re ready.
Why, you ask? “Cold air seals the hair cuticle. This gives amazing shine and incredible hold and longevity to the blow-dry,” he adds.
To finish off and create a sleek, glossy finish, it’s time to go back to your product line up and go in with some fixing hair spray. However, if you feel as though hair spray makes your hair to weighty and stiff, listen up. “Never apply hair spray directly onto your hair! Apply onto hands and gently press the product onto the roots using your palms,” advises Adam. Start at the parting and smooth out as you go to tame flyaways and give your blow dry the ultimate salon finish.