High and dry Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon-style blow-dry

Versace SS12 hair Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

Remember how I told you guys that I won’t let just anyone do my makeup? Pretty early on in my beauty editor career—after having one too many keener makeup artists attempt to “show me” their new spring collections by applying every single product to my face all at once—I came to the realization that for the most part, I MUCH prefer doing it on my own.

What I probably didn’t tell you yet is that the same thing applies to blowouts.

Yes, I am weird. I know it’s lovely when some nice person shampoos your hair and lets you sit reading a magazine in a sleepy, warm, semi-comatose state while they blast hot hair at your scalp. And I probably don’t fully appreciate how much of a godsend blow-dry bars are for people with “problem hair” (curly, coarse, cowlicked, etc.) that, were they to DIY, requires half the day and a Tracy Anderson-style arm workout with a hair dryer in order to tame it into submission.

I get that. I really do. But I’m telling you, once I learned how to achieve a bouncy blowout on my own, at home, I’ve had more hair happiness than I ever imagined. Sure, I can’t do it as “perfectly” as a professional hairstylist (even though half the time, I end up having to de-pouf salon jobs anyway). But it’s cheap, i.e.: FREE; saves you time having to get someone else to do it; and once you learn the right technique, maybe even… FUN?! See if you don’t agree after following these 10 tips.

Oh and before we start, in case you know me in real life: since I usually wash my hair every single day (!!), I don’t always take time to do this. Sometimes—okay, a lot of the time—I leave the house with wet hair. Just in case you were thinking that my air-dried hair was my blowout hair and that it looks like crap. I promise you, when I put in an actual effort, it doesn’t. Yay!

Okay, carry on.

1. Invest in a quality hair dryer.

Just like you can’t expect to have good makeup when you use those silly little makeup brushes that come with your blush or bronzer or whatever… you can’t really expect to have a great blow-dry when you’re using a low-quality hair dryer circa 1992.

A lightweight dryer with 1,500 watts of power is the minimum you should look for—otherwise it may not take the water out fast enough, leaving your hair hot but with moisture still in it (therefore causing your style to fall). On the flip side, dryers that push the water out TOO fast will make hair frizzy. If you have curly hair, a diffuser is a must… but the jury’s still out on ionic.

Personally, I’ve had my T3 Featherweight ionic dryer since about 2006, and it’s still humming along with zero problems:

T3 Featherweight Hair Dryer Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

But if you really mean business, you could invest in the Conair BaByliss Pro Volare. This puppy packs a real Ferrari engine—no lie:

Conair BaByliss Pro Volare Hair Dryer Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

2. Buy a round brush… or three.

Are you one of those people who does the old turn-your-head-upside-down trick to blow-dry? I used to be, and it was fine (I’d just finish the ends with a flat iron to look polished). But once I figured out how to use a round brush, I liked my hair way better. It’s also not 2002 anymore, yes?

For the volume-challenged among us, lifting your hair up and away from the scalp with a round brush makes a HUGE difference. They’re also essential for straightening, obvi, since they hold your section taut as you direct the heat over it. And finally, I just love how you can get that slight bend at the ends where they’re just a tiny bit curled under… the key to the salon look in my opinion.

The classic round brush is by Denman…

Denman round brush Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

I don’t have one, but I do use this one by Dannyco on the regular:

Dannyco Round Brush Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

And also this ceramic one from Raincry:

Raincry Brush Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

And guess what? I actually use BOTH when I blow-dry. More on this in a bit, but leaving one brush in the hair while you move on to the next section can really help it “set.” So if you can… buy two or even three brushes.

Note: A larger size round brush is best if you like a straight blow-dry (no matter what hair type you have to start with). Smaller ones will give you soft waves.

3. Know your hair type (and then apply the right products accordingly).

If you have fine hair, stick with volume-building shampoos and lightweight conditioners (on the ends only), and then apply a root-lifting spray or volumizing mousse pre-blowout. The hands-down best I’ve tried in this category is this mousse from Phyto Pro:

Phyto Pro Intense Volume Mousse Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

It gives, like, INSANE body. With fine hair, make sure you apply any volume prodz from roots to tips—otherwise you’re going to get great lift at the roots but wimpy, flimsy hair everywhere else.

For thick hair, you can do a volume product at the roots only and then a leave-in conditioner or smoothing cream through the ends. How heavy it is and how much you apply will depend on your hair texture and how frizz-making the weather is out there. With my flat, fine hair I don’t have a dog in this fight, so I can’t give you any product recos… but leave yours in the comments!

4. A good blow-dry involves an air-dry.

So I really hope you haven’t been firing hot air at your head straight outta the shower… because if so, then it’s no wonder you’d find at-home blowouts a pain in the ass. When you start with dripping wet hair, blow-drying not only takes forEVER, but it also encourages frizz.

What you want to do instead is sit tight for a bit. Get out of the shower and use a towel to pat (not rub) some of the water out of your hair. (Or use Jasmine’s T-shirt trick.) Then, do your makeup. Make some toast. Floss.

Curly or wavy hair should be 50 percent dry before you start, while straight hair can be up to 80 percent dry. (If you truly don’t have time to wait, straight hair types can use the dryer on low heat for a few minutes to get there. But don’t do this with curls.)

5. If you have bangs, tackle them first.

I should mention that there’s one exception to this whole air-drying process, and that is if you have bangs. If you want them to look good, under no circumstances should you let them air-dry. Ever. This is because once they “set,” any cowlicks you have will be impossible to get out. Some of you did not like Jennifer Lawrence’s bangs here, and maybe that’s what happened:

Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games premiere London Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

Anyway! The best way to blow-dry bangs is to flip them back and forth from side to side with your brush as you dry. Or, if you’re going for a side-swept look, use the brush to hold them in the opposite direction of where you want them to go—that way they’ll have some bounce and not lie flat, as well as cover more of your forehead. Kinda like this:

MTV Movie Awards 2011 Emma Stone 2 Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

6. Work section by section.

Okay, here we go! When you’re ready to start, divide your hair into four sections by creating a horseshoe shape from your temples to the back of your crown, and then parting it down the middle. Clip up the sections and then work on one quadrant at a time.

Within each section, you’re going to have several smaller sections (each, say, as wide as your brush). Taking one at a time, direct the nozzle of your dryer over the bristles as you move the brush from roots to tips. You want to hold the dryer about five inches away from the hair and in a downward direction so that the cuticles lie flat and smooth.

I like to also lift each section up and away from the scalp with the brush and blast the blow dryer there to start—this gives me a boost at the roots before I work on drying and smoothing the rest of the piece.

To get that nice curled-under look at the ends, like this—

Chloe SS12 hair Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

—wrap your hair around the brush and blast it with cool air for a moment or two. Then, you can either leave the brush in your hair while you move on to the next section, or…

7. Pinning is your friend.

I picked up this trick at a media event in the fall, and although it makes the process a little more involved, it REALLY works. Once your section is cool and dry, remove it from the brush and then take a hair clip (ideally one of those professional plastic ones)…

hair clip Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

… to secure it in place, keeping the shape intact. You’ll need to have enough clips to pin every section as you go, and then blast with cool air or let them sit for 10 or 20 minutes at the end before you take them out.

8. Don’t rush it.

Whether or not you choose to do the round-brush leave-in trick, or the pinning, the key thing is to not give up before it’s time. The biggest mistake people make (including me) is to not dry the hair thoroughly enough… which means you’re going to have a mediocre blowout that you’ll only have to re-do the next day. Do it properly from the start and you should get two, three or more days out of it.

So make sure each section feels springy and cool, and falls off the brush easily before you move on to the next section. If not, keep drying until it does.

9. Pick a finishing product.

Once you’re done, choose ONE finishing product and apply it sparingly. That could be a gloss, a serum, a cream or an oil—but you really, really don’t want to overdo it or it’ll ruin your good work. I tend to skip this step, but again—leave your reco, if you have one, in the comments.

Then, you can mist with hairspray to secure the style. I used to be a big Elnett user, but lately the scent has been bothering me, so I’ve been into this one from Pureology:

Pureology Colour Stylist Strengthening Control Hairspray Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

10. Make it last.

If you want to get as many days as possible out of your blowout, shampoo your hair twice so it’s SOOPER clean before you DIY. Then, on day two or three, get friendly with dry shampoo. Nothing beats it for absorbing oil at the roots—and it’ll give you a sexy, piecey kind of texture. There are so many good ones, but lately I’ve been reaching for Marc Anthony’s:

Marc Anthony 2nd Day Dry Shampoo Why yes, you CAN do your own bouncy blowout at home! 10 pro tips for a salon style blow dry

What you do at night is important too. Before you go to bed, wrap your hair into a loose topknot instead of leaving it long. Or, wear a silk scarf or sleep on a silk pillowcase to prevent it from tuggling and tangling while you sleep.

And… wow. This post took a long time to write. I hope it helped? Let me know—

Do you get salon blowouts or do you DIY?
What’s your personal blow-dry technique?
Got any favourite pre- or post-blowout styling products? Sharing is caring!


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 3:28 pm

GREAT tips! I am just like you, and basically cringe at the idea of any old “makeup artist” touching my face or hair.

Had a terrible experience during my first (AND LAST) time at a blowdry bar…asked for flowing, loose waves that would last all day…left there looking like Shirly Temple. Probably my fault for not saying anything during the process…but I am just too embarrased to pipe up. You know its bad when the first thing you do when you leave the place is put your sunglasses on and throw your hair into a messy bun.

My favourite is the “tackle your bangs first”…so many people don’t realize just how crucial this is!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 5:42 pm

That’s happened to me so many times too! I think they do it in some cases because the curls will “fall” over the course of the day… but I’m with you, it automatically goes into a bun upon departure.

Did you know that many of the employees of those blow-dry bars aren’t even trained hairstylists? When I heard that I was pretty shocked…


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 3:29 pm

Have you tried the Conair spin air brush? It is a rotating round brush and hairdryer all in one. Amazing!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 5:47 pm

Nope but that sounds cool—what is the spinning supposed to do? I have a similar brush/dryer thingie from John Frieda that I wrote about here, but it doesn’t spin: http://beautyeditor.ca/2011/10/19/its-hair-tool-time-from-a-diy-brazilian-blowout-treatment-to-a-volumizing-hot-air-brush-heres-whats-blowing-me-away-get-it/ Still find that I still get best results from an old fashioned blow dryer though…


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 3:40 pm

Awesome recommendations. I’ve been using the Phyto mousse as I have fine hair too – loving it. The bottle lasts a long time too.

I stopped washing and drying my hair every day, and it has been such a time saver. On day two, I usually curl it and leave it more relaxed. Day 3, ponytail or top knot. And sometimes I can even make it to day 4. Dry shampoo is my best friend.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 5:48 pm

Isn’t it amazing? Love that you share my love for the Phyto :)
You’re lucky you can make it so long in between shampoos! I can only get two days max.


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 4:37 pm

I’m a DIY’er when it comes to blow outs. It’s taken me 25 years to perfect the process but I have it down to a science. You know how they say to stick to one line when it comes to skin care products since they all work together? I find the same is true for hair care products, I use Aveda EVERYTHING. Pricey products but definitely worth the time saved by not having to blow your hair out every other day!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 5:49 pm

That’s so interesting! Always heard that for skincare but never considered it for hair. I’m the least loyal beauty person on the planet, but will have to test this theory…


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 8:47 pm

Love everything about this post! My hair is super long and thick so I am trying to perfect the art of the blowout. But I do have a a question:

When you are pinning the hair, are you merely just pinning in the middle to hold the section together, or at the roots, etc? May be a dumb question but I’m a little confused by that.

Otherwise, amazing post!


Tuesday, April 3/2012 at 9:36 pm

me tooo. i totally didnt get that part.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi! When you remove the section of hair from the brush do it very carefully so the shape (loop) is completely intact. Then pin at the roots, keeping the loop intact. (You may need to roll it up depending on how long your hair is – and then pin the part of it where the ends are to your scalp.) Does that make sense? Don’t worry about it being too perfect – as long as your hair is completely dry before you pin, you won’t make a dent or anything. It just REALLY helps give you a professional-looking blowout with more body and soft waves.
Hope that makes sense! It’s hard to explain in writing :)


Thursday, March 29/2012 at 9:53 pm

I have been TRAUMATIZED by too many overly poofy, overly “done” looking blowouts! I never get my hair cut/coloured on a day that I have plans to go out in the evening, since that means I have to go home and wash my hair again after the salon, and restyle it myself before facing society with it. I prefer a messier look for my own personal style. Mind you…. if a stylist ever did my hair like the first pic with the brunette hair, or the last pic, with the blonde hair, I’d probably love it! Those look done, but still loose and sexy. I always come out looking like I’m one of those mannequin heads they practice on in hair school, with no attention paid to my features or personal style. I’m even traumatized to attempt blowouts on myself since I’ve never had good results! Am I the only weird one that hates blowouts so much??

(Mind you the tip about letting hair air-dry most of the way before blowdrying is really great. Will be implementing it immediately. Minus the blowout part.) :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, April 9/2012 at 6:01 pm

Haha – “before facing society” – oh how I identify! You’re totally not alone… but seriously, you should give this technique a shot sometime. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I promise!


Friday, March 30/2012 at 12:53 pm

I got really good at doing a smooth blowout when I had my chin-length bob; it didn’t take a hideously long time, but it required it every day. It got flattened & messy while I slept & required reshaping. Bangs would go straight up overnight. This was more of a time commitment than I wanted in the AM. But it looked stellar all day! My technique was a lot like yours.

Now that my hair is past my shoulders again, I need help! My hair has seriously changed in the past 5 years, from straight & fairly smooth to kind of bent in unattractive places all over (weak waves), and it frizzes constantly! It’s not damaged at all, just mutated. Mousse, my go-to product for my entire life, actually seems to make it frizz WORSE!

I just have no idea what to do with it now; it won’t hold a blowout if there is the SLIGHTEST moisture in the air, & drinks Moroccan Oil with a straw before it poofs. I’m trying to go as natural as possible with my products (recent to last year), and that’s probably not helping. No hold. Except my Fructis mousse & spray. & Gel… Yup, lank AND frizzy. Win. What happened!?


Friday, March 30/2012 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for the article! I also have to wash my hair daily, so I don’t do the blowout often.

Can you explain how to do the pin thing more? How do you pin it, I mean, what do you do with the hair? Do you kind of twist it? I def want to try that.

My fine hair doesn’t allow the brush to stay in, I don’t think, but I’ll try that too.


Friday, March 30/2012 at 8:27 pm

To pin the hair, gather the section that you just round-brushed and let it fall into one big curl in the palm of your hand (in the same ‘o’ shape you created with the brush). Then pin the bottom of the ‘o’ to the hair on your scalp so that you’ve got a circle standing straight up in the air – this will set it as it cools, keeping the volume & bend you just created.


Saturday, March 31/2012 at 11:07 am

Great post! I have become pretty good and blow drying my own hair, but I took your advice and waited until my hair was 50% dry before blow drying and I notice my hair was a smoother than usual. Thanks Michelle!


Marionberry Style
Saturday, March 31/2012 at 12:55 pm

I always look forward to your posts because you 1) are informative 2) I actually learn something that I want to then go try and 3) you’re funny! This post was no exception! Thanks so much :)
XO – Marion


Sunday, April 1/2012 at 2:32 am

hey lovely post.. shall try a fair bit of these tricks, just something for curly haired people, who want to blow dry without straightening. blow dry hair in sections, then tie hair in bun , and mist some leave in conditioner on the bun, and aim warm air on this section.. so that you get piecey hair..


Sunday, April 1/2012 at 6:27 pm

Whenever I want a REALLY nice mane, I use a smoothing cream after I shampooed ‘n’ conditioned correctly. I towel dry softly, then put on a small amount of my Live Clean super awesome (and vegan!) Argan Oil Smooth & Shine cream, then I let my hair air dry. When I’m done dressing/putting on makeup, aka when it’s almost dry, I spritz with a heat protect mist (I use Alberto, but I bet there are better ones out there) and blowdry the rest on low heat, and then slather on some Moroccanoil (before and after I straighten, mostly on my parched, dry ends). I got sooo many compliments on my hair since I switched to the Live Clean line, I dunno if it’s available everywhere, but I get mine at Shoppers, and it’s relatively cheap and very good for my fine hair (and smells absolutely delicious!)


Monday, April 2/2012 at 1:12 am

Have ALWAYS let my hair dry naturally but am going to practice this every night this week while the boyfriend is away… Sounds hard but blow waves in Australia are about $70 AD.. ridiculous and not worth it!


Monday, April 23/2012 at 3:44 pm

I have SOOPER thick, naturally platinum hair and it is a pain in the arse to blow dry. By far the best product that I have found is Fekkai Straight Away Balm. A dime size amount goes a long way, and is doesn’t create that nasty build up that many other products seem to leave in blonde hair. It also keeps the poofiness of my thick hair in check, so that even when I don’t have time to use a round brush the ends are still not poofy if I flip my head upside down.


D. Mann
Monday, March 18/2013 at 2:31 am

You are right…. Sharing is caring and thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I just figured out how to do this properly a couple weeks ago and thought I would look up to make sure I wa doing it right. I use two different sized round brushes… Which works nicely. Something you did mention that I will try… Is a root lifting mousse. I typically only apply macadamia oil before the blowout, but I think a mousse would give me über volume on top which is what I am after. My hair is long and thick so it’s needs help with volume on the crown. I try to leave teasing for special occasions only!! LOL
So once again…. Thank you for the tips!
Much appreciated!! :)


Monday, August 26/2013 at 12:09 pm

Use “It’s a 10″ with Keratin -lightly before BD if needed, but a couple spritzes worked through the hair afterwards smooths hair & wards off any possible frizz. (have recommended T shirt ‘towel dry’-twist/wring out for yrs – great for curly heads that don’t want to disturb wave.)
Good tips and appreciate ALL the details included.


Saturday, June 21/2014 at 7:31 pm

My hair is wavy, coarse, long, thick, and super frizzy. When I let my hair air dry, it turns into this awkward frizzy straight hair with wavy pieces but when it’s wet, it’s so wavy it’s almost curly. I hate blow drying my hair (because it takes an our and a half), so I usually just let it air dry overnight and straighten it in the morning. (let me note that my hair is so unruly that I also have to straighten my hair in order to curl it.)

So last night, I decided to use for the first time the Shielo Leave In Protector – and I didn’t blow dry it. I let it air dry throughout the night. It’s 6 am now, and though parts of my hair are still wet as usual, the parts of my hair that are dry look AMAZING. It looks like my wet hair, but dry. I’m usuing Shielo more for frizz control and the straightening benefit.


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