Cool-shot button: Standard on most dryers, the cool-shot button temporarily shuts off the heating element when pressed. Use cool air to set your style.Nozzle: Attached to the end of the barrel, the nozzle helps direct the airflow. It also protects hair from the metal grates at the end of the barrel, which can reach 300 degrees.Vent: When the fan inside the dryer spins, it draws in air through the vent, the small holes at the back of the dryer. It’s typically covered by a screen to prevent your hair from being sucked in.Switches: Along with an on-off button, the best dryers have settings to adjust speed and temperature, all of which let you customize the airflow to get the results you want. How to Use It ProperlyPick the right wattage for your hair. Too much heat (read: high wattages) can be damaging. Fine hair needs only a 1,200-watt dryer. Normal and coarse hair require more heat to dry quickly; use 1,400 watts or a bit higher, says Edward Jimenez, artistic director of hair-tools brand Metropolis Technology. Whatever the wattage, always spritz a heat-protectant spray on your hair before drying.Tailor the temperature to your styling goal. “Cooler temperatures give volume by roughing up the cuticles,” says Evelyn Calderon, a stylist at the Butterfly Studio Salon, in New York City. Higher temperatures work for sleeker looks, since heat smooths the cuticles.Aim the airflow in the direction you’re styling. To straighten, point the dryer down the length of the hair. For volume, direct air upward at the roots.
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What to Look for in a Curling Iron
Heating element: Metal coils inside transfer their heat to the barrel.Clamp: Choose an iron with a short, spring-loaded clamp, which is easy to open and close. It holds the hair in place against the heated barrel.Barrel: Covered with a metal or ceramic plate, the barrel curls hair when it’s hot. An iron with a 3/4-inch-diameter barrel is the most versatile, allowing you to create everything from loose waves to tighter curls.Switches: Look for an on-off switch as well as buttons that adjust the iron’s temperature. Coarse hair needs high heat; fine hair needs less. How to Use It ProperlyWork in sections. Separate a section of hair that’s as wide as the barrel of the curling iron, and clip the rest of the hair away. Trying to tackle too much at once will result in curls that don’t last.Release hair from the iron when the hair is hot to the touch. Be sure the heat has penetrated the entire section, which usually takes about five seconds, to give the curl staying power.Soften curls with a blow-dryer. Loosen them by wrapping each section of hair around a round brush and applying heat from a dryer for a few seconds, says Dominic Barbar, a stylist based in Beverly Hills and the creator of Barbar Hair Tools. For more information, watch this video on how to curl hair.
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Plates: Plates made of metal or ceramic conduct heat to straighten hair. Choose an iron with plates that are about an inch wide so you can get closer to the roots. Ceramic plates are generally gentler on hair.Heating element: Electricity flows through metal coils within the iron and heat is transferred to the plates.Switches: You want an iron with an on-off switch and a switch that sets the temperature. Higher heat will straighten hair that’s curly or coarse; lower heat works on wavy or fine hair.Handle: A handle that is made of rubber, has a velvet covering, or is grooved will give you a good grip so you have better control of the iron. How to Use It ProperlyAlways start with dry hair. Flat-ironing damp hair creates steam, which can cause hair to frizz or, in the worst case, can scald your scalp.Begin on low heat. Set the tool on the lowest temperature and attempt to straighten a section. If your hair isn’t smooth after two passes, raise the heat.Move steadily and quickly. Hold your wrist still and, starting at the roots, draw the iron straight down the length of your hair in one fast motion. You can singe hair if you leave the iron in one spot for too long.Let your iron reheat between sections. Wait for three seconds after you finish one area before going to the next. Hair cools down the iron with each pass.