A good blowout is like the difference between a flat tire and a big, juicy pool float—like somebody hooked you up to a 120-volt air pump and set you afloat.
Unfortunately, getting a professional, heavy-duty, 120-volt blowout every few days isn’t realistic (or economical). For many, an at-home blowout is more like inflating party balloons with your own lung power—you’ll get the job done, but it’ll have half the oomph, and leave you twice as tired.
What is it that the salon pros know that you don’t? Good news: We got the inside scoop from blowout experts Adam Maclay and Raven Hurtado on how to do an at-home blowout that goes toe-to-toe with a salon appointment. All you have to do is follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Start in the Shower
As always, good hair starts with good hair health. Make sure you’re using shampoos and conditioners that suit your hair type or you’re already starting with a disadvantage. “For fine to medium hair types I’d suggest a volumizing shampoo and conditioner that’s going to add the right amount of texture to the hair,” says New York-based celebrity hairstylist Adam Maclay. “For thick or coarse textures, I love a smoothing cleanser and conditioner to help smooth the hair cuticle and create that polished look once you start blow drying.” The shampoos made for coarse or damaged hair will weigh down finer hair types, and oftentimes, the shampoos made for volumizing fine hair don’t pack enough moisture for frizzier locks.
For coarse or damaged hair, Maclay recommends the Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner to start a blowout with the smoothing ingredients needed for a polished style.
Chicago-based stylist Raven Hurtado likes to brush the hair out before starting prep, and recommends this dual-length brush for detangling right out of the shower.
Step 2: Prep Your Hair
Once your hair is clean, you’ll need the right ingredients to not only protect your hair from heat, but prime it for styling. “The right base products that are going to create that effortless blowout look,” says Maclay.
For heat protection, Hurtado likes Kérastase L'incroyable Blow-Dry Reshapable Lotion, which coats strands in beeswax, glycerin, and polymers for shine and hydration.
Once the hair is prepped for heat, you need to consider your biggest hair challenges. It’s not a one-size-fits all product list, and sometimes it takes the right cocktail to get your hair to cooperate. For fine hair types that struggle with holding volume, Maclay recommends stacking the deck in your favor by using both a thickening spray and a plumping mousse. “First apply the mousse to the roots and then apply the thickening spray from roots to ends,” says Maclay.
Maclay recommends coarser hair types start by applying an anti-frizz product from roots to ends, like this Color Wow treatment that boasts a proprietary anti-humidity complex to battle any post-blowout flyaways.
Step 3: Rough Dry Your Hair
Now it’s down to business. “I love to begin a blowout by rough drying the hair to about 50% dry,” says Maclay. “This is going to make the round brush portion less strenuous because wet hair will take longer to dry in the brush.”
“The Dyson Supersonic the best blow dryer on the market,” says Maclay. “The heat output options plus the wind speeds help to expedite the blow drying process.”
Step 4: Section Out Your Hair
Once you have damp hair, you can section it out for an easier, more organized process. Gathering too much hair onto your round brush will make the process much longer, and much less effective. “Work in small sections starting from the bottom layer of hair,” says Hurtado. “Section your hair horizontally from ear to ear and clip away the rest of your hair.”
These high-tension styling clips are a lot like what you’d see in a salon. The Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Styling Clips are double-jointed and have a soft, rubberized finish that can keep a handle on thick manes.
Step 5: Blow Dry Sections with a Round Brush
When you’re ready, start with the bottom layer of hair that you left out of clips. Starting with a small section of hair near your ear (no larger than your brush), place a 1.5-inch round brush underneath it at the root. “Blow dry your hair straight up and slightly directed over your face,” says Maclay, while moving the brush upwards towards the ends.
When the brush reaches the end of your hair, roll it downward towards the scalp—rolling the hair with it. “Using tension, dry around the brush. Once that section is dried; shock it with the cold button and unwrap from the brush,” says Maclay. “My favorite trick is to then take a large velcro roller and set the hair around it, securing it with a clip.”
Continue this process along the bottom layer, in sections, until you reach the other ear—temple to temple, says Hurtado. Then, unclip the top layer and repeat.
Step 6: Finish With Volumizer and Hairspray
Once your hair is dry and has had time to set, you can begin to carefully unravel the rollers and shake out all the sections together. Now you’ll want to hit your roots with a volumizer to make sure you have an even, all-over bounce.
“I love finishing a blowout with Klorane,” says Maclay. “A dry shampoo adds instant volume and texture.” Spray it generously from roots to ends, and then finish with a light mist of hairspray for hold. (Bonus points to this product for actually prolonging the blow out with oil-absorbing plant-based cleansing powders—all you have to do is reapply after a few days).
Step 7: Fine Tune With a Flat Iron
Hit your hair with the finishing touches. “If you have any frizz or funny ends you can use a flat iron to gently smooth or polish the ends,” says Maclay. “Don’t press for too long, or it will change the texture of the blowout.”
If you do need to smooth out flyaways, take out very thick sections and smooth them quickly with the flat iron—that way, you get the polish without flattening all that new-found volume.