Some women are blessed with hair that goes from wet to wonderful without any help at all. For the rest of us, only professional intervention seems to tame our manes. The good news: With practice, patience and some expert instruction, it's easy to recreate a professional-looking blowout at home.
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting sleek, polished tresses on your own.
1. Gather the right tools
You'll need a wide-tooth comb; a hand mirror; styling products; a blow-dryer with a nozzle; a round, ventilated bristle brush; and six hinged hair clips.
2. Gently blot hair with a towel
Vigorous rubbing can create frizz and tangles.
3. Apply styling product
Steve Lococo, who teaches blow-drying classes at his Borelli salon in Beverly Hills, Calif., suggests using a leave-in volumizing or lifting spray on the roots to give lift to limp hair. If your hair is wavy or medium-bodied, also apply an anti-frizz serum or other anti-humectant product from roots to ends.
4. Blow out the excess moisture until hair is about 80 percent dry
Concentrate heat at the roots and don't try to control individual strands. If your hair tends to become limp or flat, add volume by bending over while drying.
5. Section the front
Lococo suggests beginning with an arch that spans the top of your head, running from ear to ear. Part that hair horizontally, creating two sections. Coil each section into a rope and secure with a hair clip.
6. Section the back
Working from top to bottom, draw three horizontal parts across the back of your head from ear to ear; coil and secure all but the bottom section.
7. Wrap hair around a round brush
As you wrap, pull hair at a taut 45-degree angle to your head and finish drying your hair completely. Begin with the loose bottom section in the back and continue working from back to front. Point the blow-dryer nozzle at an angle to aim air across the surface of strands and into the brush.
8. Subdivide the tough sections
In areas where hair is thick or especially wavy, separate the larger sections into smaller ones that will dry faster and be easier to handle.
9. Check your work in a hand mirror
Look for still-damp or unruly strands. Repeat the drying process, allowing hair to set by cooling momentarily on the brush before unwinding.
Use a natural bristle brush, suggests John Doucette, director of student salons for Empire Beauty Schools. The gentle boar bristles prevent hair damage and help smooth the cuticle, a process that enhances shine.
If you make your part on the side, dry it with your hair parted in the center, suggests Muriel Mastey, who leads Hair Bootcamp classes at her West Hollywood, Calif., salon, Point de Vue. The switch helps keep hair from falling flat.
Keep the nozzle at least an inch away from the hair to avoid heat damage.
Use your hair dryer's "cool shot" feature to finish each piece with a blast of cooler air and "set" the curl.
Unwinding the hair with a twist of the brush instead of pulling it out straight results in smoother, shinier hair with a bit of wave.
To help your blowout last longer, Mastey suggests using a root lifter or amplifier at the start of the blow-drying process. The product can help lift hair slightly from the scalp, where body heat and perspiration may flatten it or add frizz.
If you've achieved that straight-smooth look, a light mist of hair spray can help prolong the shiny perfection of your blowout. But be warned, if there's any frizz in your hair, hair spray will preserve that too.
Veteran journalist Valli Herman has covered international fashion, beauty and travel for the Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, and other print and online publications.
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