Maybe you’re letting your hair grow a bit longer these days since you’ve been socially distancing from your barber (and you’re a little concerned about the way your spouse or partner is eyeing up that hair trimmer). Or you’ve just decided to try a new longer style. Either way, it’s probably time to brush up on your blow-drying skills. We talked to pro stylists Johnny Gaita of New York’s Chris Chase Salon and Gina Rivera, founder of Phenix Salon Suites to get some pointers on how to pull off award-winning hair.
How to Choose the Right Hair Dryer
Gaita emphasizes that it’s worth making an investment in a good blow dryer. “The difference between an inexpensive $20 dryer and a $100 to $200 version is astronomical. The amount of time saved — and effectiveness — is night and day. My go-to brands are Sam Villa, Elchim, or Dyson.”
“It’s very important to select the right dryer,” concurs Rivera, who’s also created her own infrared dryer. “Someone who has never used a hair dryer will be most comfortable with less drying time.”
You’ll also need a good brush to help with styling. Although you can use your fingers, Gaita recommends a brush for more control. For coarse hair, she recommends sturdy nylon bristles, but for most hair types, natural and plastic bristles from brands like Creative Professional or Denman offer great value. If you’re looking to treat yourself, you can’t go wrong with Y.S. Park, a Japanese purveyor of quality grade brushes.
How to Keep Your Hair Healthy While Blow Drying
Once you’ve chosen your weapons of choice, it’s time to consider some complementary product to make sure that your hair remains happy and healthy while being exposed to the heat and added stress of styling.
“Consider your activity levels,” says Rivera, who also has her own haircare line. “ If you regularly workout, you may need to wash your hair a bit more frequently. Cleansing the scalp comes into play with this situation. Scalp health is extremely important and part of maintaining a healthy scalp includes ensuring the hair follicles remain healthy and unclogged.”
“Your hair’s texture should be considered as part of your routine,” says Rivera. “If you have coarser hair, you may need to wash less frequently. Sometimes over-washing results in drying out the hair and eliminating natural oils. Use a good conditioner to start with to prevent fly-away hair. It’s also good to use products such as a serum if you want to reduce volume. Include a deep conditioning treatment such as a mask in your regimen to add an extra boost of moisture. Coarser hair should be deep conditioned once a week; finer hair; every other week.”
How to Blow Dry Properly
“Generally speaking when drying your hair you should push it forward toward your eyebrows, then back and forth (left and right) on the head and back toward the crown until you get your hair as straight or as smooth as you like it,” says Gaita.
Rivera emphasizes that, of course, the cut is going to influence your hair’s styling. Assuming you’ve already got that handled, she says “For a natural, looser casual look, using your fingers works perfectly. For more volume, tip your head upside down while drying. For a sleeker look, use some styling serum, and style the hair with your brush or comb, drying your hair from the top down.
“That’s when you add a little touch of product and you’re good to go,” says Gaita. “I always suggest that guys throw a ski cap on for ten minutes or so in the direction of how you want to wear it to help get rid of excess fluff.”
Rivera suggests using a good finishing spray that “allows some movement but also provides just the right amount of hold. For a sleeker look, use a styling gel and comb to slick the hair down.”
Ahead, we roundup some of the best tools to blow dry your mane.
Best Hair Dryers
Sam Villa Professional Light Dryer
The Sam Villa is touted as able to dry hair faster, with a quiet motor that actually allows you to carry on a conversation. It’s also super light — less than a pound — and only seven inches long.
Elchim 3900 Healthy Ionic Hair Dryer
The Elchim comes in a range of colors, but we chose this bright yellow because of course it remind us of our other favorite power tools. The company has been in business since 1945, so they bring plenty of expertise to the styling table.
Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer
This dryer caught our attention at last January’s fashion week in New York City. Used backstage at the N21 and Emilio Pucci fashion shows, its futuristic design may be more evocative of a microphone than a hair dryer. Rock on!
Creative Professional Eco-Friendly Mixed Bristle Brush
We like that this round brush is not only great for hair-styling, it also lends itself to beard-styling. It mixes boar and nylon bristles all on an eco-friendly birchwood based.
Denman D200 Black Skeleton Vent
This brush’s open design allows warm air to reach your hair’s roots, allowing for looser shapes and styling.
YS Park Straight Air Styler Brush T09
Y.S. Park’s offering has antistatic ion properties in a light skeleton structure; further allowing hair to dry faster without damage.
Best Blow Dry Styling Products
Goodtype No. 2
Goodtype is a mediu-hold clay that provides texture and volume, but doesn’t feel tacky or sticky. You can even sleep in it.
Oribe Crème for Style
As noted, a lighter product for style and shine, this product offers firm, all-day hold while taming frizz. It adds substance, shine, and separation, while conditioning.
Iles Formula Finishing Serum
Protect your hair with custom blended ingredients including vitamins, nut oils, silk, and ceramide. Think of it as sunscreen for your hair, protecting from UV rays, as well as humidity and free radicals.
Support Your Barber
Since we can’t see our favorite hair care professionals in person right now, if you can, check to see how you may be able to support your local barber. For instance, Oribe and iles Formula are temporarily donating a portion of anything you purchase to Gaita’s salon. At Oribe, use code chrischasesalon; and at Ilesformula, use code re20g3q7.
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