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The Lowdown on Blow Drying: Top Trichologist Tells All!


Chairman of the Institute of Trichologists and our resident hair expert, Eva Proudman MIT IAT, shares her expert advice on safely blow drying your hair and avoiding heat damage.

June 18, 2021


Photo showing a woman with long brunette hair having her hair blow dried

June 18, 2021


Hello to all Absoluters out there! I have received lots of questions about how to style and care for your hair. In particular, should you blow dry it, and if so, how should you blow dry it. In short, I’ve had loads of blow dry questions, so here is my blow dry advice!

Why do we blow dry our hair?

When our hair is wet it is at its most vulnerable state. In this state, the hair can easily stretch and break. If you leave it to dry naturally, some hair types such as curly hair will dry really well; other hair types such as very fine or wavy hair will just look a bit flat and undefined. If you have very thick hair it can take an age to dry, whereas very thin hair is dry within minutes.

Most of us use the blow dryer to put some structure into our hair. Whether it is to curl under the ends, add root lift, or to manage a particular style, the blow dry is our starting point for getting our hair to look fabulous.

How should you prepare your hair for blow drying?

When your hair is wet, use a wide toothed comb to get out the tangles and smooth it ready for styling.

Have your styling products to hand, whether they be volumising sprays, defining lotions or creams. Use a small amount massaged well into your fingers and pull through the hair to get an even application, then comb through with the wide tooth comb to get an even coverage.

What are the common blow drying mistakes?

A common mistake is to try to blow dry too much hair all at once! Your hairdresser will split your hair into sections, pinning hair out of the way to work a section at a time, which has a number of benefits:

  • It makes the section of hair to be dried less dense and easier to get dry.
  • It takes less time and heat to dry the section.
  • The hair can be managed using a styling brush to get the desired shape.
  • The style is put into the hair through each section giving it a much better staying power.

Working this way, you get the hair really dry so that there aren’t any damp patches left. This is especially important if you are going to use a wand, heated tool or straightener to finish your styling routine.

Too hot for too long is another common mistake. Putting your blow dryer onto the highest heat and speed setting is often too much for your hair to manage. Blasting very hot air and really moving the hair around can lead to hair damage; it is much better to take a planned approach in sectioning the hair as you will be able to control the hair, heat and drying action much better.

Applying heat directly to the hair is a big mistake. If you roll your hair around a brush and put the nozzle of the dryer onto it you will super heat the hair, there is roughly 10% moisture in the hair’s makeup and you will effectively boil the water inside the hair! This can cause breakage and damage, so you should never put the nozzle of your blow dryer directly onto your hair or styling brush with hair on it.

How can you make sure you blow dry safely?

  • Section the hair and dry a section at a time - this means the hair is exposed to less heat for a shorter period of time.
  • Keep the nozzle directed at the section of hair to be dried keeping a good few inches away from the hair, NEVER directly onto it.
  • Keep the hair under control - comb between drying and taking the next section.
  • Use good styling products. These should do the work in terms of helping the hair to hold its style. Don’t use excessive heat or tug and pull at the hair too roughly, let the products help the hair.
  • Check that the hair feels dry all the way through, and go back over any sections that still feel damp or wet. This step is very important if you are going to use a heated tool to finish the hair. If your hair is wet, the heated styling tool can super heat it and cause breakage and damage. Also, you should use a thermal protector with wands and straightening irons.

Blow drying can be great for our hair, we just need to take our time and be gentle!
Remember, the hair can’t let us know if it is too hot or is being pulled too hard, we need to make sure that we are taking care of it and being as gentle as possible in achieving the style and look that we want.

Vent or flat brushes are great for getting smooth styles, and round brushes for getting lift and curl. Next time your hairdresser is drying your hair take note of what they use and how they do it, so you can then use this at home.

There are lots of styling products on the market that have many different claims. My advice is look for more natural ingredients, and talk to your stylist about their salon professional products, especially about how much to use and how to apply it, as this can make a massive difference to the finish of your blow dry and to how long it lasts.

In fact, speaking of haircare ingredients, I am really looking forward to creating new content soon, all about active ingredients in hair care products! We’ll cover what to look for and what works, so that you can really make informed choices when it comes to your hair care.

Roundel image showing Eva Proudman MIT IAT smiling at the camera, beside a written bio describing her hair expertise