How to Blow-Dry Straight Hair for Body, Bounce, and Shine

Woman blow dries her hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

If you have straight hair, there are a few questions you've almost certainly asked yourself when styling at home—like what ingredients you should be looking for in a shampoo, or whether you should go for a curling iron or hot rollers. Most people with straight strands would agree, however, that one question rules them all: How on earth can you blow dry your hair without it coming out totally flat?

Fortunately for the straight-haired among us, it is definitely possible to harness the power of heat on straight hair without it going lifeless and limp. We asked pro hairstylists Min Kim and Adam Maclay for their best tips for blow-drying straight hair without it falling totally flat. Read on for what they had to say.

How to Blow-Dry Straight Hair for Body, Bounce, and Shine

Byrdie | Design by Zackary Angeline

Meet the Expert

  • Min Kim is a L’Oréal Professionnel global ambassador, hair stylist, and hair colorist.
  • Adam Maclay is a New York-city based hairstylist who has worked with Maye Musk, Christine Quinn, and Ashley Graham.
01 of 08

Start With Clean Hair

Woman with clean, wet hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

First things first: You want to start out with a good wash and condition—and this step is non-negotiable. "Squeaky clean hair is important for creating and maintaining a blow-dried style," says Kim. "If a buildup of natural oils is left in the hair, heat from the dryer will flatten the hair faster and it will be more challenging to maintain the style over a period of days. Clean hair will also increase volume, shape memory, and texture."

02 of 08

Add Your Heat Protectant

Woman adds heat protectant to her wet hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

While those with curly and coily hair types are well versed on the importance of heat protectants, those with straighter strands might be less familiar. But our experts agree: Everyone should use them before firing up their hot tools. "Imagine grabbing a hot pan without mitts: That’s what heat on unprotected hair is like," says Maclay.

As far as heat protectants for finer hair, Maclay recommends René Furterer's Protect Thermal Protecting Spray ($36): "It’s a current fave because of its ability to smooth and protect hair from any further heat damage," he says. Kim's go-to? "My favorite heat-protecting product is L’Oréal Professionnel's Blowdry Fluidifier Cream ($32). It protects all hair types from up to 450 degrees of heat, locks in moisture, and creates frizz-free results."

03 of 08

Start Drying

Woman blow dries her hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

"For hair types that are naturally wavy to straight, my recommendation is to blow dry the hair (unsectioned) until its 80 percent dry," says Kim, who advises blow-drying your roots in the direction you want your hair to lay and the mid-lengths and ends down to smooth and decrease frizz.

04 of 08

Apply Your Mousse

Woman sprays mousse on her scalp

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Mousse is a great way to give your hair body and movement. "Mousse is a copolymer foam, which creates the appearance of density, shine, smoothness, and movement in the hair," says Kim. "The combination of unique ingredients makes the hair appear voluminous."

When you apply it is up to you and your styling goals. "Mousse application can be done on towel-dried hair or when the moisture has been blown out of the hair," Kim says. "At what stage mousse can be applied depends on the desired end result, length of hair, current quality/health of the hair, and the look you're going for."

In terms of product recs, Maclay is "a huge fan of the René Furterer Style Sculpting Mousse ($32);" he prefers to apply it "to damp hair before beginning the blowout."  

And you aren't beholden to mousse, says Kim. "Salt spray, hair spray, dry shampoo, or volume powders are always a great idea," she notes. "When the hair is damp to dry is the best time to apply these products. The texture that's produced will create an airy result that will give the hair more body and movement."

05 of 08

Section Your Hair

Woman sections her hair during the blow dry process

Dee Mills / Byrdie

After your hair is mostly dry, it's time to start sectioning. Sectioning will give you total control over your end results, says Kim. "Whoever is blow drying the hair can see what they are working with, manage the outcome they are attempting to achieve (voluminous, smooth, high-shine, wavy, curly, etc.), and work with the amount of hair that is appropriate for the size of the styling brush that they are using," she notes.

Kim and Maclay agree: Your sections of hair should reflect the width of your brush. "This allows the hair strands and products to meld harmoniously creating that volume and texture," says Maclay.

06 of 08

Dry in Sections

Woman runs brush through her hair as she blow dries

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Now you can start blow-drying your sections, running your brush along the heat.

"Selecting the correct brush for your desired style is very important," Maclay emphasizes. "If you’re wanting any sort of wave in your straight hair, I’d suggest the 1/2-inch round brush for a bouncier blowout and a 1-inch round brush for a soft bend in the hair. If a straight sleek hairstyle is desired, I’d suggest a boar bristle paddle brush."

You'll want to consider your hair thickness, too, according to Kim: "For medium-thick hair use a medium-to-large round brush. For finer hair types, use a medium-to-small round brush." Your desired finish is also a factor in brush selection. "Natural bristles will provide smooth and high-shine results, while ceramic round brushes will retain more heat from the dryer, and create more curls in the end result. To emulate the '90s smooth styles seen on Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, and Claudia Schiffer—or Cher in Clueless—I recommend a natural bristle brush. For a bouncy '90s wave to curl, use a ceramic round brush instead."

07 of 08

Add Your Finishing Touches

Woman pulls on her blow-dried hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Now it's time to add your finishing touches. "Often, I will utilize Klorane's Dry Shampoo with Organic Flax ($20) right after I finish a blow dry to add extra texture to the blowout and preventatively stop the hair from getting too greasy right away," says Maclay. "We all know we love to touch and flip out the hair once it’s been freshly blown out."

08 of 08

The Final Look

Woman with blow-dried straight hair

Dee Mills / Byrdie

Now you've achieved healthy, shiny, blow-dried hair from the comfort of your own home.

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