Don't Make These Common Blow-Drying Mistakes

Woman blowdrying hair
Cultura RM/Cornelia Schauermann/Getty Images

That blow dry you give yourself every morning? You might not be doing it correctly.

It turns out, blow drying your hair is an art unto itself that requires the right brush, the right dryer and a host of tricks and tips.

You Skip the Styling Lotion

A good styling product is key to the perfect blowout. A volumizer spray adds body to fine, limp hair, while women with thick, curly hair need to keep the frizzies at bay with a leave-in conditioner.

The secret is to coat every strand of hair with product. I like to comb the product through my hair with a wide-toothed comb and then I massage it into my hair with my hands. I read this trick years ago, and I believe it works to distribute the good stuff evenly.

You Don't "Pre-Dry" Your Hair

I have a ton of hair and I learned a long time ago you can't do a blowout with super wet hair or it will take forever. Here are a couple options to get hair 75 to 80 percent dry, which is optimal when it comes to a blow dry:

  1. Let hair air dry. This is great for warm days or long, lush weekends when you have nowhere to be for a few hours. For bouncy hair, apply a volumizing spray and then finger comb hair and then let it air dry. For smooth hair, comb hair and pull it off your head with a bandana.
  2. Pre-dry your hair with the blow dryer. Use your fingers, a paddle brush or even better — a slotted brush — to pre-dry hair to about 75 percent dry. If you're going for bouncy hair, flip hair over and dry from above. If you're going for a sleek blowout, put the nozzle on the dryer so the heat is directional. Use the slotted brush to dry from the crown and roots down, pointing the heat down the hair.

    You Use a Lame Hair Dryer That's At Least 10 Years Old and Full of Lint

    A really good ionic blow dryer is the key to drying hair faster. A hairdryer, like a good mattress, is an investment that's worth every penny you spend. A great ionic dryer not only dries hair much faster, but it will last years and years.

    You Forget to Section the Hair

    Unless you have super fine thin hair that dries in minutes, you should section your hair before drying. Sectioning hair may seem like it adds extra time to a blow dry, but it actually saves time because you're not drying the same hair over and over again.

    There's no right or wrong way to section hair and every stylist has his/her own perfect version of sectioning. I find winding hair into mini buns — two in the back and one on each side — works best on my long hair. If you have super thick or heavy hair, try dividing each of your sections in half. One above the other helps manage the blowout. Leave out a section to start with.

    You Dry From the Top Down, Not the Bottom Up

    If you are not into sectioning hair (there are many days when I'm not), you can shave off minutes from your drying time by blow drying the bottom layers of hair first. It's faster to dry hair from underneath — starting from the top means you'll re-wet hair as you comb through to the bottom layers, in effect wasting precious drying time.

    The best way to blow dry hair is to separate hair with a clip and dry in sections. Once the underside of your hair is dry, you can finish off the top layers.

    You Never Stuck a Nozzle on the End of the Hair Dryer

    I'm guilty of this. I lost the dryer nozzle years ago because in my 42 years on earth I have never used one. MISTAKE! It turns out you get a much better blow dry if you aim the air where you want it to go. This is called "directional drying" and it's very important. So find yours and put it on the end of your dryer and you'll cut down your drying time.

    You Don't Use Your Fingers as Blow-drying Tool

    Stylists know the secret to the perfect blowout is to start with your fingers. Pull your fingers through hair starting at the roots and shoot the heat at the roots (with your directional nozzle — you're welcome) while holding the hair taut. If you prefer a sleek blow-dry, pull hair out a few inches and hold it while you use the dryer to shoot air at the crown on down ( again, directing the heat with your nozzle — you're welcome again).

    You Don't Use The Correct Brush

    Oh, the importance of the brush. There are different brushes to use to get the results you want, but the key is to find one that has a mix of nylon and boar bristles.

    "The biggest mistake is using metal brushes," says stylist Teddi Cranford in the Huffington Post. According to Cranford, the metal heats up too fast and can burn hair. 

    Now that you know the importance of the boar bristle, you need to know when to use a rounded brush and when to use a flat paddle.

    • If you like rounded ends, use a round brush.
    • If you don't want rounded ends and instead want your hair to fall as straight and flat, start with a rounded brush to dry most of your hair, then move to a flat brush for the ends. As you pull the brush through hair, follow the brush with the dryer.
    • I love this stylist's tip in Lucky Magazine, "Imagine there's a point six inches in front of your nose. Stretch the hair toward that point as you dry. It sounds crazy, but when you're done, the tips won't flip under or up -- they'll just sort of fan out over your shoulders."

    You Don't Hold Hair Taut

    Hold hair taut as you blow-dry so the cuticles stay smooth. Make sure not to blast heat in one spot too long, it's important to keep the dryer moving or you could overheat your hair.

    This is especially important when drying wavy or curly hair straight. Get the full scoop in my article, How to Get Super Straight Hair.

    You Skip the Shine Serum

    Once you're finished with the blowdry and hair is 100 percent dry, wait until hair cools and then palm a shine serum onto hair on the bottom 3/4th of hair, avoiding the top, which can make hair appear greasy. You can follow with hairspray if you are into hairspray.

    You Assume Fine Hair Means Flat, Limp Hair Forever

    I love this trick I picked up from reading Allure a few years ago: to lift fine hair after it has been blow-dried, work hairspray along the crown with your fingers, massaging the spray into your roots at the crown until about an inch back of the head.

    You Don't Know How to Keep The Frizzies at Bay

    If you're prone to frizzies, a finishing cream can help keep the cuticle smooth.

    Hairstylist Tommy Buckett of the Sally Hershberger Downtown salon recommends Shu Uemura's Cotton Uzu Defining Flexible Cream, which works best when it's worked through the hair with your hands.

    Buckett suggests you put a dollop of the cream in your palms and then rake it through hair, getting the product on as many strands as possible from roots to ends.

    You Have Yet to Perfect the Two Finger Trick Stylists Use All the Time

    For the bounciest blowout, try this trick I got from a hairstylist in Texas, home of the bouncy blowouts: as you're blow-drying hair, take random sections as they're hot and wrap them around 2 fingers, allowing them to cool. Unwind the curl and let it go.