The DIY Blow-dry


by Beth Janes

Most of us know what it's like to leave a hair salon with bouncy, beautiful hair: We walk tall, full of self-confidence.

Then later, when you wash your hair at home, you can't quite recreate that salon effect with your own two hands and a blow-dryer. You just don't have time (or desire) to clip your hair into sections and tend to each one individually.

Fortunately, there are shortcuts to drying your hair at home that don't take a lot of time and still create a great look. "Busy moms can get that same great hairstyle in less time," says Paul Labrecque, owner of the Paul Labrecque Salon and Spas in New York City.

So, next time your wet hair is dying for styling, follow Labrecque's step-by-step guide to a professional blow-dry -- at home.

1. Towel-dry First
After your shower, squeeze the water out of your hair, then wrap it up in a towel. Leave hair wrapped for three to five minutes (while you brush your teeth and get ready). This will remove as much moisture as possible. "When hair is soaked, blow-drying takes three times as long," says Labrecque. "Plus, excess water can dilute your styling products, making them less effective."

2. Apply Leave-in Conditioner
"A leave-in is important for all hair types because it prevents frizz, breakage and flyaways while you blow-dry," says Labrecque. If you have fine or thin hair, pick a spray, which won't weigh down strands. For thick, curly hair, try a heavier cream. Apply from the mid-length of strands to the ends, and then use a wide-tooth comb to thoroughly distribute the conditioner and to smooth tangles.

3. Boost Your Roots
A root-lifting spray delivers body and volume, but it has to reach all roots to do the job. "Most people just spritz the top of their head then wonder why they can't get volume," says Labrecque. "At the salon, your stylist applies it everywhere."

The best application technique: Spritz in layers. First, position the nozzle about 5 inches from the top of your head and spray the roots. Then, separate that top section of hair and hold it straight up and out of the way, which will allow you to spritz the root area underneath. Be sure you spray both sides and the back. Now separate and hold up that section, and spray the roots underneath in the same way. Repeat until you get to the bottom layer. Use your fingertips to massage it in.

4. Flip Your Hair Upside Down
"When you're short on time, you don't need to mess with a lot of clips or dry separate sections," says Labrecque. You can give hair volume by flipping your hair over and drying upside down. "The key is to use your fingers to pull roots away from your scalp," he says. Continue until all your roots are dry and the rest of hair is mostly dry.

5. Grab a Round Brush
With your hair still flipped over, hold the blow-dryer in one hand and a round boar-bristle brush in the other. Brush through the bottom layers of your hair, from the nape of your neck to the ends as you blow-dry. This continues the job you were doing with your fingers, lifting the roots away from your scalp. "It will create the same fullness and body you get by clipping up and blow-drying individual sections, only it's faster and easier,"says Labrecque.

The boar bristles of the brush also help polish and smooth your hair's outer layer to fight frizz. Pick a smaller brush (about 2 inches in diameter) if you have fine hair that needs body, or a bigger one if hair is already thick, says Labrecque.

6. Dry the Middle Layers
With the bottom completely dry, flip your hair right side up. Separate and twist the topmost section of hair -- from the top corners of your forehead up) -- into a bun and secure with a clip, exposing the top-middle layers. (When drying upside down, this section is hidden and tends to hold some moisture even after you think hair is completely dry. The moisture can then deflate volume and bounce)

Take a section of that middle layer, place the brush under its roots and direct the blow-dryer's air on the area from the top. Slowly brush through hair, pulling it straight out, parallel to the floor, following with the blow-dryer. (Pulling hair downward will flatten it)

"When you get to the ends with your blow-dryer and brush, rotate the brush with your hand to give the ends a slight curl," says Labrecque. This helps create the same polished, finished look you see after a salon visit.

Repeat on the adjacent section, the section in back, and the two sections on the other side.

7. Smooth and Finish Hair
Unclip the top section. It should be dry, but quickly use the brush-and-blowdry technique in step No. 6 to smooth the hair and curl the ends.

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