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Field Guide: Hair Dryer Tips and Tricks

by Cheryl Locke August 08, 2014

Field Guide: Hair Dryer Tips and Tricks

Image by Madison Reed

The most frequently used tool in your hair routine is most likely your hair dryer, yet few of us use the settings, attachments, and features of this state-of-the-art gizmo to the fullest potential. Here’s a primer that covers both basics and the bells and whistles of the tool that’s behind your good–and bad–hair days.

Speed and Temperature Settings

It’s tempting to keep your hair dryer locked on high, because it’s obviously the fastest way to dry hair. The tradeoff, however, is that blasting hair at high speeds and high heat can weaken hair, drying it out and causing breakage. Not to mention, the occasional scalp burn.

Temper your need for speed by switching to a lower speed setting when hair is 75% dry. It keeps hair from blowing all over, especially if you’re going for more polished styles. Toggling between high and low heat settings also helps prevent frizz and lock in shine. See more below.

Cool Shot Button

Located on the top inner side of the handle, and often ignored, the cool air button can be your secret weapon for shine. Try it as a finishing touch to set your style and keep it lasting longer. One of our favorite ways to use it, requiring just a bit of multi-tasking, is to deploy it while hair is wrapped around a round brush. It’s a trick for glossy, lustrous strands.

All those Attachments

When in frequent rotation, rather than shoved in the back of your closet, attachments take away some of the strain required when doing hair. If you want to scrunch and flip less, tools are wonderful.

  • Concentrators do just that: help you direct air flow to a specific area on your head, enabling you to have more control while you’re styling. It is a favorite at dry bars, often pointed down, to concentrate heat for achieving pin-straight hair.
  • For shiny locks, direct the flow of the nozzle from the roots to the ends. Also, use a lower speed setting to keep hair from blowing all over.
  • For curls, diffusers are your best ally for taming the frizzies. Use this attachment to help reduce the intensity of your hair dryer’s air flow.

Find the Right Hair Dryer

When investing in household appliances like hair dryers that old adage “buy expensive, cry once; buy cheap, cry twice” comes straight to mind. While it’s not completely false, when you’re in the market for a new dryer focus on your hair’s needs and don’t be led astray by marketing fads and the latest doodads.

Heat is always and will remain a foe to healthy hair, but there have been advances in drying technology that protect it. If you color your hair or if it’s dry, curly, and/or frizzy, consider a ceramic or tourmaline dryer.

  • Ceramic Hair Dryers: Ceramic helps even out heat distribution, so it doesn’t get very hot, but still does the job. Ceramic heat emits negative ions that smooth hair and generates far infrared rays, a natural source of energy that helps to lock in hair’s natural color and retain moisture.
  • Tourmaline Hair Dryers: Tourmaline is a natural crystal, often known as an “electric stone,” for its ability to generate electricity, negative ions, and far infrared rays. Considered a breakthrough, you often see tourmaline used in premium hair dryers and flat irons.

For the most volume from a hair dryer, especially of interest to people with flat as well as thick hair, look into higher wattage and more power. More motor power equals more wind and faster drying times, but does result in higher costs.  On the flip side, they not only give you the blasting power you need to pump up the volume, but also last longer.


Take Care of Your Hair Dryer

Besides the common sense of keeping your hair dryer away from water and not dropping it, you’ll also want to check the filter from time to time.

The filter acts as a protective layer  that catches dust and debris to keep the motor clean, thus extending the life of your hair dryer. If the filter is clogged, the motor can overheat, which is not only bad for your hair dryer, it’s dangerous! As soon as you notice any build-up, clean the filter.  It’s as easy as unscrewing the cover and popping out the filter.  If you’ve ever cleaned out the lint from your dryer, it’s the same concept.

Most dryers also come with warranties, so be sure to register or save them in case you need to return or replace your purchase.

Have questions about Hair Health? Ask our Color Crew in the comments below or call 1-888-550-9586.