The right dryer: Look for at least 1,800 watts and multiple heat and air settings, says New York City stylist Sarah Potempa. Medium heat is best for predrying hair. High heat manipulates your hair’s shape, and air sets a style.
Nozzle: Don’t discard this. It is key to a smooth look and keeps hair from getting too close to the heat.
Round brush: Straighten strands, make ends flip, or create waves with this tool. Time-saving tip: The bigger the surface area of a brush, the faster the drying time. Brushes with vents also shave off minutes.
Hair clip: It keeps layers separate and easy to manage and prevents damage caused by overdrying sections.
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Pick Your Products
Mousse If you want to add thickness, distribute Aveeno Nourish + Style Volumizing Foam ($6.50 at drugstores) through damp strands first.
Cream To smooth and soften dry or damaged hair, apply Fekkai Advanced Brilliant Glossing Cream ($21, fekkai.com), before and after styling.
Hair Spray To add lift and set hair, use Aussie Sydney Smooth 12 Hr Anti-Humidity Hair Spray ($4 at drugstores) on almost-dry roots and all over after drying.
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Straight Hair, Step 1: Predry and Section
After toweling off wet hair, set your dryer on medium heat and high air speed. Blow hair until it’s 80 percent dry.
Gather the hair on top of your crown and secure it with a clip. Begin drying the lower layers with a brush, using more heat. Point the dryer’s nozzle downward to help smooth hair and create shine.
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Step 2: Dry Top Layers
Remove the clip and use it to hold the now-dry lower layers back and away. Twist and clip them into a bun to add waves, or secure like a very loose, low ponytail for a straighter look.
Blow-dry the top section. Aim at the roots to add volume, then work toward the ends, using the brush to pull hair forward and out.
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Step 3: Shape Ends and Finish
Remove the clip. Flip all hair back. Part and dry hair around the forehead.
To curl ends, roll them under with a round brush, blast with heat, and set with cold air. For a straight finish, pull the brush through while drying ends with warm air; set with cold air. Apply styling cream to tamp down flyaways, or mist with hair spray.
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To Blow-Dry Curly Hair
Get the Tools
The right dryer: Don’t distort curls with too much power―1,400 watts is enough, says Ouidad, a salon owner in New York City and Santa Monica. Curls don’t call for a high temperature, either. Stick with the low and medium settings for temperature and air.
Diffuser: This is the crucial component for creating soft, fuzz-free curls. Look for a design that’s concave in the middle (not flat). This allows curls to rest inside and take a natural shape.
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Layer Your Products
Conditioner First apply a creamy leave-in conditioner, like Biolage Curl Defining Elixir ($14, 800-662-8749 for salons), to keep moisture in strands as you dry them.
Gel Next, use a gel, such as Ouidad Clear Control Pomade ($27, sephora.com), to define curls and help set them in place. A gel also prevents frizz.
Finisher After drying, use a product like Kérastase Paris Serum Oléo-Relax ($40, kerastase-usa.com) to hydrate ends and add shine and hold.
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Curly Hair, Step 1: Apply Leave-in and Gel
After applying a leave-in conditioner through wet (but not sopping) strands, flip most of your hair to one side. With your fingers, work the gel into four manageable sections, from roots down to tips, evenly distributing it around your head. Finally, hold the ends, shake your hands from side to side, then release to allow curls to spring back up to the roots.
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Step 2: Diffuse at the Roots
Set your dryer to low or medium heat and medium speed.
Place the diffuser right at the roots, starting at the nape of your neck. Gently hold ends away from the dryer, letting them dry naturally (blow-drying curly ends, which tend to be dehydrated, makes them frizzy). Move the diffuser around until all roots are dry.
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Step 3: Smooth and Finish
Put a pea-size drop of pomade on your palm and rub your hands together.
Grasp your hair in front, as if you were sweeping it into a ponytail, and run your hands from the hairline to the ends. Then let the curls go. This will help break up any gel crunchiness. Massage your scalp at the roots to add fullness.