If you’re one of those people who picked up a round brush and a blow-dryer circa age 12 and never looked back, you probably don’t understand the plight of the hair styling–challenged. However, speaking from experience, we can tell you that not everyone is blessed with the innate ability to wield a round brush like a pro.
For many of us, the struggle to master the at-home blowout is real. And it involves tangled strands, sore arms, and—more often than not—a fair amount of cursing. So after spending years struggling to figure out how to use a round brush, we’ve decided to change all that. We’ve been observing the top hair experts at work, prodding them for tips, and taking diligent notes. We also went directly to the source, tapping Blushington artistic director Monaè Everett for her best tips and tricks for the perfect round brush blow drying experience.
Meet the Expert
Monaè Everett is the artistic director at Blushington.
Keep reading to find out how to use a round brush like a pro.
How to Pick a Round Brush
Not all round brushes were created equal, and not all of them promise the same results. The material and density of the bristles and the size of the brush are all factors that play into the end result. While vented metal round brushes are good for heat reinforcement while styling, boar bristle brushes are usually firmer and denser and create more tension when pulling the hair, which creates more volume and lift in the end.
And as far as diameter, round brushes follow the same concept as your curling irons: The bigger the diameter of the brush, the bigger the curl. Unless you’re a pro, don’t mess with brushes that are too small or you’ll run the risk of getting your hair tangled in the bristles.
How to Use a Round Brush to Blow-Dry Your Hair
Start With Clean Hair
According to Everett, how dry your hair should be when you start styling depends on your texture. "For example, if you have pretty straight hair, you can let it air dry or you can rough dry it with a blow dryer until it's 80 percent dry before you then use a brush to dry and style it," she says. "If you have coily hair, you will want to pull it straight with a brush while it’s soaking wet."
Apply Heat Protectant and Section the Hair
"In order to keep the hair as healthy as possible, you want to use a heat protectant to block it from too much heat as well as to help avoid frizz," says Everett. When it comes to selecting a heat protectant, look for something "that protects the hair up to 450 degrees, minimizes frizz, and is keratin-based," says Everett. "Your hair is mainly composed of protein, and keratin is a protein that increases protein retention."
After you've applied your heat protectant, you can section your hair. Start by separating it into four parts. You'll want to work on one segment at a time, clipping the others up and out of the way.
Start Drying, Working Your Way Down From the Roots
As you start drying, begin with the round brush at the base of your roots, then roll it down to the ends, following the brush with the heat from the blow dryer. "While the way you hold a round brush depends on the section of your head you are working on, a general rule of thumb is to direct the brush away from your face while also holding the blow dryer toward the brush," says Everett.
Switch Up Your Angles—and Your Settings
As you reach the ends of your hair, switch up how you angle the brush. Instead of always holding the blow-dryer horizontally, after you’ve lifted the root, flip your brush vertically. Give it an extra twist of the wrist or twirl as you go to add a soft, natural-looking wave at the end. One important thing to note: No matter how you’re moving the brush, always keep the nozzle of the blow-dryer parallel and angled downward so you’re evenly dispersing the heat across the section of hair and not fluffing it up.
The other thing that needs to change consistently throughout the process is the heat setting on your blow dryer. High heat and high air may seem like the best choice, but unless you’re a professional, using only that combination can leave you with a frizzy, tangled mess.
To Speed Up the Process, Slow Down
As confusing as this might sound, the fastest way to blow-dry your hair with a round brush is to take your time. Wrapping sections that are too large around the round brush won’t save you any time in the end because you’ll most likely have to go back and redo them. The smaller the section, the more evenly you can dry and style the hair, and the faster you can move on.
Once you complete a section and while the hair is still wrapped around the brush, turn your heat setting down for a cool blast of air. This will help your hair hold its shape. Although this might seem like an added, unnecessary step, skip it and your results may not last as long.
And there you have it—a voluminous, bouncy blowout, achieved without setting foot into a salon.