I suffered from heat damage after blow drying my hair a few years ago. I immediately swore that I would never use heat to straighten my hair ever again. That decision was short-lived. I decided to learn from my mistakes and use the best blow drying practices. I started blow drying myself, though I do it less frequently now. Do you know how to use a hair dryer by yourself? In this post, I’ll share exactly how I do it to achieve the desired results and with no heat damage.
Wash and deep condition your hair
Before straightening your hair with any heat styling appliance, always ensure that your hair is clean. The last thing you want is to burn your hair after literally frying the accumulated dirt and build-up in your hair.
You can use regular shampoo to remove dirt and oil from hair and scalp. However, if you have a lot of product build-up or hard water minerals, you may want to go for a clarifying or chelating shampoo.
It’s advisable to use a moisturizing shampoo that will not dry out your hair.
Make sure you detangle your hair after pre-pooing and when conditioning it.
After the cleansing process, deep condition your hair so as to add moisture to your hair strands. More moisture reduces the chance of your hair breaking and getting split ends when blow-drying.
A deep conditioner with protein, especially keratin, is also recommended for people who want to straighten their hair using heat. It helps strengthen the hair strands before heat styling.
Overall, deep conditioning improves the health of your hair.
Stretch before straightening
This step is optional. I only started stretching my hair using heat-free techniques one year ago after I discovered that stretched hair straightens faster.
Two or three passes with the blow dryer are enough to straighten your hair.
Stretching helps in avoiding excessive heat and thus reducing your chances of getting heat damage.
I used to stretch my hair using the banding technique but I have since turned to braiding. I find it to be a little faster.
Use leave-in conditioner
Section your hair. If you stretched your hair using banding, twisting or braiding, then your hair is already in sections. This is the time to undo the braids or twists and remove the elastic bands.
If it has been a while since you washed your hair, go ahead and dampen your hair with some water if the hair has gotten dry.
Apply some leave-in conditioner. It’ll help to lock in moisture and soften your mane.
You’ll only need a little leave-in conditioner since you don’t want your hair to be heavy before blow-drying.
If necessary, wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair from the ends towards the roots.
Apply heat protectant
As someone who knows what heat damage can do to your hair, this is the most important step for me.
You’ll need to apply heat protectant generously. There are many types of heat protectants you can choose from.
Use a denman brush to make sure both the leave-in conditioner and heat protectant have evenly spread through each hair strand.
The heat protectant gives your hair a good shine after the blow-drying process is over.
Blow-dry your hair in sections
Start blow drying your hair in sections.
Using the tension method
Some people prefer to use the tension method. It involves holding tight and pulling a section of your hair downwards and allowing the heat from the blow dryer to stretch your hair out.
Aim the blow dryer directly at the tension of your roots and move it down the hair shaft.
Since the tension method is all about avoiding over manipulating your hair, you’ll need to gradually bring down the blow dryer down your strands in a gentle motion.
Start with the lowest heat and then gradually move to medium or high heat settings.
This method allows you to dry and stretch your hair without using an excessive amount of heat.
One of my favorite natural hair YouTubers has a great video that demonstrates the tension method, as well as the regular blow-drying method:
Using the regular method
This is the method that most of us are accustomed to. I find that this method gives me straighter and flatter hair.
Always work from the back towards the front.
You’ll want to start blow-drying on low heat and then go to high heat.
Starting on low heat warms your hair to receive the higher heat. It also helps your hair to feel more moisturized.
The reason you need to start at the ends and work your way to the roots is to avoid letting your paddle brush get caught up in the hair.
In the unfortunate event it gets caught up anyways, just remove it. If you start rippling through with it, you’ll just be setting yourself up for some setting lead for massive hair breakage.
If the sections you are working with are too thick, you can reduce their size.
After you’ve worked your way up to the roots, start going from the top of the roots and follow the brush down from the concentrator nozzle of the blow dryer.
When you’re on the high heat setting, put the paddle brush against your hair with the blow dryer directly on top and move down the hair shaft.
The nozzle gives concentrated heat to the particular section of the hair that you are working on.
Make sure you’re not holding it against any part of the hair too long because that’ll be too much heat for the hair.
I personally don’t blow dry my hair until it is bone straight. I just aim to create a softly stretched look in order to minimize exposure to excessive heat.
However, if you want your hair really straight, you can continue with the blow dry process ensuring that you don’t focus on one part for too long.
How often should you blow-dry natural hair
The number of times you should straighten your hair is really an individual’s personal decision.
However, you should keep in mind that heat damage is real! Take it from me. I had to go through a second big chop because of heat damage from blow-drying.
Frequent straightening using a blow dryer can change your curl pattern. When this happens, no matter how many times you wash your hair, the curl will not revert to their natural state.
Always keep in mind that you can get heat damage from putting too much heat on your hair.
I now use heat on my hair about two or three times a year. I stretch just enough so that I can be able to cut the clearly-visible split ends.
Having said that, I know a few natural ladies who have their hair permanently blow-dried.
This is their way of avoiding the dreaded hair shrinkage and they know all the pros and cons of regular use of heat styling appliances.
As long as they are happy, we should respect their decision.
How to blow dry your hair without making it frizzy
There are a few things you can do in order to blow dry your hair without making it frizzy.
Use the right hair dryer
You’ll want to research the right hair dryer for the look you’re trying to achieve.
To start, the best hair dryer should have multiple settings. This includes heat settings, such as hot, medium, and low.
You should also aim to find an 1800-watt hair dryer. This wattage provides the best heat setting while drying your hair quickly.
If you’re straightening your hair, find a hair dryer with an attachable concentrator nozzle.
This concentrates airflow down the length of your hair and into smaller regions of the hair, resulting in straighter hair with less frizz.
If you have natural hair, there are many options you can go for if you’re looking for a blow dryer that straightens natural hair.
Brush your hair throughout the process
Does your hair always end up in a frizzy mess when you blow dry your hair?
This is why you should always brush your hair before, during, and after the blow drying process.
Brushing your hair ensures your hair will stay smooth, without tangles and frizz.
You can use a hair dryer by yourself to achieve the best hair results without visiting the salon.
You just need to make sure you are using the right dryer and follow the right steps to achieve a straight and non-frizzy look.
Remember to always use a heat protectant to prevent heat damage.