10 Blow-Dryer Mistakes You Might be Making

Want a salon-worthy blowout everyday? Avoid these 10 blow-drying faux pas.

Ashley Riddle Williams
Woman brushing and drying hair
BananaStock/Getty Images

Your hair is too wet.
Believe it or not, your hair should already be 80% dry before you whip out your round brush and start your blowout. Trying to style before that point, will take twice as long to do and put twice as much damage on your hair. To reduce heat exposure as much as possible, start by thoroughly towel drying. If you have the luxury of extra time, let it air dry. If not, use your hair dryer and fingers to remove excess water from hair. No need to get the dryer too close to your hair here—remember, you aren’t trying to make it behave just yet; you’re trying to stop the dripping.

You skipped heat protection.
No matter your hair type—stick straight to tight curls—you should be using a protective product before putting any heat on your hair. The more damage your hair has (and for a lot of us, that damage can be largely attributed to heat styling) the more prone your hair is to frizz. Therefore, not protecting your hair against the blow dryer’s heat could actually make your smoothing blowout have the adverse effect long-term. We love It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Treatment, ($14; amazon.com) pre-blow-out, because it also detangles.

You aren’t using the right products for your hair type.
Depending on your hair type, using the wrong product can weigh your hair down or (on the flip side) not allow for the right amount of control. For fine hair, the most impactful effect a blowout can have is creating noticeable volume. To maximize the effects and lasting power of your blowout, spritz in a thickening spray before you begin. Our pick is Alterna Caviar Miracle Multiplying Volume Mist, ($35, sephora.com).For thick unruly hair, look for products that tame and defrizz. We love Bumble and Bumble Straight Blow Dry, ($17; sephora.com).
 

Your hairdryer is too old.
We all like getting the most possible mileage out of our beauty tools, but if you’re using a hairdryer that’s too old, you could unknowingly be damaging your hair. Hair dryers only last for 600-800 hours of use—which translates to approximately somewhere between 300 and 400 blow dries. After that, they are less likely to perform properly, can overheat and ultimately burn your hair. And age isn’t the only way your hair dryer can get too hot. As your hair dryer pulls in air it also pulls in particles in the air, like dust in with it. This blocks airflow and can also leave you susceptible to a too-hot beauty tool. Be sure to check the protective grate on the back of your dryer frequently and remove any buildup.

You’re using the wrong brush.
Ditch metal brushes, these can get too hot too fast and also be a culprit for causing damage to your hair. Instead, try a brush made boar, nylon, ceramic or combination of the three materials. Also make sure the brush you are using is the right shape and size. You’ll definitely want it to be round—larger barrel for sleeker looks, and smaller barrel for a bouncier result.

You're using the wrong temperature setting.
Most hair dryers have three temperature settings: high, low and cool. Unless you have very coarse thick hair, you should be using the low setting each time you dry. Be sure to employ the cool setting for the finishing touch—see tip #10 for further instructions on that.

You haven’t sectioned your hair properly.
There is no one right way to section your hair, but there are two things you should consider. 1) The sections you’re working with should be small enough to easily manage. 2) You should focus first on the sections around your face and at your crown because these are the sections that will be most visible and do the most to determine your look. We recommend starting by sectioning both horizontally and vertically around head. As you take each section down work in 1-2” strands.

You aren’t blow drying in the right direction.
You’ll need to use two different techniques when blowing out your hair. At the roots, you’ll want to blow in the opposite direction of which your hair falls. That means, if you part your hair to the right, blow it out to the left. Use this same logic to determine the direction to blow dry all over the head to maximize root lift. For the ends, take the exact opposite approach and blow in a downward direction around the curve of your round brush. This will give you maximum smoothness.

You’re leaving off the dryer nozzle.
The removeable nozzle of your hairdryer may seem like an unnecessary extra, but, actually, by making the direction and concentration of the blow dryers styling power very precise, it can be of immense help for tip #8.

You’re not “setting” your hair.
Ever given yourself a great blowout just for it to turn into an unruly frizzy mess only minutes later? If so, you’re probably forgetting two important steps in your process. First, before you put down your dryer make sure every last hair is actually dry. The heat you’re putting on your hair can be deceiving—it may trick you into thinking your hair is totally dry, when actually it’s just hot. Leaving even the slightest bit of moisture in your blowout making your hair vulnerable to frizzing later. Secondly, “set” your hair by cooling it. The same heat that allows you to mold your hair in the right direction also makes it malleable for other influencers (i.e., the headrest of your car that pushes it flat against your head, or the collar of your coat which can leave funny dents in the back). Therefore, making use of the cool setting finishes your look and the fruits of your hair labor will last much longer.