And saved me thousands of dollars at the salon.

By Liz Steelman
Updated June 29, 2017
Abrams Books

“Great hair” was never a problem when I was a child. Every couple of months, I would sit in the chair while my family’s hairdresser clipped away and would eventually remark how beautiful, silky, and thick my hair was. For as long as I could remember, all I had to do was brush it and it would look respectable.

But then puberty hit. My straight, voluminous locks inherited a signature kink. Some parts took a wave, other places hung in ringlets. From whom I inherited this trait? I do not know to this day, as I’m the only person in my family with any type of curl.

This texture was new and different, and, frankly, unwelcome. I coped with it by ignoring it—either by pulling it back or doing a half-up, half-down ‘do. I always wondered why my classmates had better hair than me and thought it must be attributed to a much more expensive shampoo than the Suave my family bought.

This worked until high school, when I realized that, no, it probably wasn’t shampoo—I probably just wasn’t as lucky as those girls whose hair would air-dry silky straight. Blow-drying was out of the question, A) because I never woke up more than 20 minutes before I had to be out the door and B) it seemed that all the blow dryer did was make my hair poof up into a dry, but frizzy mess.

So I learned to embrace my curls—scrunching tons of mousse into my hair over the years until I looked like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. Maybe it wasn’t the “great hair” I wanted but it was “good hair.” It fit my personality and served me well for all of high school and college.

But then I moved to New York, and the glory days ended—my once impressive Baby curls were demoted to waves. As someone who recently graduated from journalism school, I did my due diligence and checked with my fellow curly-haired Midwest-transplants—same thing. It might have been the stress of making it that deflated our curls, but it was probably the water. I was back to square one in the fight for “great hair” in an environment that valued it way, way more than my local middle school ever did.

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Unlike at age 12, I was a little more image-obsessed at 24 and knew ponytails wouldn’t cut it in a city (and industry) where people were obsessed with the “great hair.” But hair was something beyond genetics—these women were doing something I wasn’t. I soon learned the trick was mostly pouring out hundreds of dollars a month on trips to the salon for a sweet, sweet blow-out. I didn’t have that type of cash, so I did some research on how I could do it myself.

The first stop to “great hair” was a copy of Drybar Guide to Good Hair for All (To buy: $17; Within the first couple of pages I had zeroed in on my problem: Sectioning. Everything changed once I learned there was life beyond just aiming the nozzle at my head and hoping for the best. The front started to look like I finally could have the “great hair”—but I found it hard to replicate in the back without a third hand.

To Amazon, I thought, and typed in “blow dryer mount,” not knowing if it was a thing. To my very happy surprise, it totally was! I added it to my cart and within two days (thanks, Prime!) my blow dryer was hung above my head in my bathroom wall (Hands-free hair dryer holder; $30; It worked. After 12 years, the “great hair” was finally mine.