There’s no competing with that “just walked out of a hair salon” feeling. Even if it’s just a blowout, the difference it can make in the way your hair looks and smells—not to mention the way you feel—can literally boost your mood and confidence in a matter of minutes. But how do the pros do it? Their hands and arms are the same as ours, and we buy the same tools and products they use. Still, replicating that salon-level sparkle seems nearly impossible!
Turns out, there are some major hairstyling mistakes many of us make at home. Adjusting how we towel dry, blow dry, apply product, and style can make all the difference in our hair health and appearance. We hit up pros who shared the most egregious errors we’re all making, and then offered advice for how to make amends to our ends.
Going Straight from Shower to Towel
Raise your hand if you hop out of the shower and then immediately put your sopping wet hair into a towel headwrap. This is one of the biggest at-home styling mistakes people make, and it’s such an easy one to fix!
“Throwing hair directly into a towel after showering causes hair to become matted and much more difficult to comb or brush,” noted Michael Boychuck, a celebrity hair stylist and colorist, and owner of Las Vegas’ COLOR Salon. “The best thing you can do is to switch up the order. Comb wet hair directly out of the shower first and then wrap the hair in the towel to dry. This also allows any product you’ve added to set in and absorb effectively into the hair cuticle, protecting it from any heat damage during the blow-drying process.”
Whatever you do, don’t rub your hair between a towel, which causes serious breakage and will make your hair frizzy no matter how much product you apply.
“Gently blotting hair or squeezing hair is the way to prevent snags and frizz,” advised celebrity stylist Tippi Shorter, who’s worked with everyone from Rihanna to Lady Gaga. “Also, using a microfiber hair towel is ideal.”
Rough-Brushing Tangled Hair
Tangles happen to the best of us, but ripping a brush through them is both painful and damaging.
“Brushing or combing through your wet hair prior to blow-drying can cause breakage, so don’t brush it just to get it untangled,” said Boychuck. “To correct this, coat damp hair with a leave-in conditioner, preferably with a thermal protectant, and start to blow dry your hair starting at the roots first. Flip your head over and dry from the roots to the ends, and brush the hair once it is about 50 percent dry. This allows the leave-in product to work its magic in detangling the hair—minus the damage.”
Uneven Product Application
Another common at-home styling mistake is applying product directly to front of hair first, Shorter told us. When you do this, the scalp and front pieces tend to “get all of the product, and makes hair look stiff and greasy just in the front.”
To fix this, “Divide hair into sections before applying product, and apply evenly starting at the bottom.”
On that note, consider how much product you’re applying.
“Most people tend to think that less is more, but that isn’t always true when it comes to products,” said Boychuck. “Styling products today are designed to be used with other products to achieve the desired look, and can be layered without becoming overdone.”
He advised applying product to your hands first, and then rubbing it between your hands to emulsify it. “This will help you to achieve an even distribution,” he explained. He agreed that starting with the ends and working up to the mid-shaft, then the roots, is best. This method will help you achieve that salon-esque volume and shine.
Haphazard Blow Drying
Blow drying is a journey, not a race, and it is always a laborious task. That said, taking it slowly and carefully will leave you with silky, shiny, gorgeous hair.
Stylists agree that your blow dryer shouldn’t be set to max heat or max air flow. In fact, the highest setting should be reserved for extremely thick or coarse hair, and only the first few minutes of blow drying to help zap out excess water.
Also, Shorter advised taking advantage of the air nozzle that came with your blow dryer to help smooth the hair and prevent frizz. Keep the nozzle pointed downward at all times, she said, even at your crown. If you have curly or wavy hair and want to achieve a soft and shiny curl, apply a curling cream and blow dry gently using the diffuser attachment.
Finally, use the blow dryer’s cool shot at the end to lock hair into place and seal the cuticle.
Frying Hair with an Iron
Again, curling or straightening your hair is a process, and shouldn't be rushed.
“Just because your flat iron has a high heat setting doesn’t mean you need to use it,” said Boychuck. “Many times, the same look can be achieved on a lower heat setting—300 degrees is just right—and keeps hair healthier in the long run. This seems simple, but is a common mistake clients make when styling their own hair. It’s better to do three to four quick sweeps over the hair sections on a lower heat setting than damage hair on high heat settings in one swoop.”
Also be mindful of how you’re curling or ironing.
“I've seen many people place a flatiron in their hair, then change their hand position to curl causing hot spots and crimps,” said Shorter. “Adjust hands before placing your flatiron so you get one fluid movement, leaving soft, crimp-free curls.
Long live the salon blowout, but here's to better at-home hair styling habits for pretty hair every day!
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