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The Big Blowout

You love the way your hair looks after it's blown out in a salon, but can't seem to master that look on your own at home? According to The Early Show stylist, David Evangelista, women can get a salon look in the comfort of their own homes without having to pay top dollar to a stylist. All it takes is the right product and knowing the proper way to use a dryer.

He demonstrated with the help of three models: triplets Alison, Lindsay and Jessica Denholz.

  • Step 1: Prepping the hair Make sure you're shampooing with the appropriate shampoo and conditioner. If you have fine hair, use a shampoo for fine hair. Shampoo created for coarse hair should be used on coarse hair. That's the first basic step.

    Also, don't skimp on the conditioner: the heat of the blow dryer and tugging of the brush in the next step can damage your hair, so the first line of defense to the hair shaft is going to be a good conditioner.

    When you get out of the shower, David insists, "pat your hair dry with a cotton towel. Do not rub it! If you rub, you could damage the cuticle, and for the perfect blowout, you really want the cuticle to be smooth and unruffled. If you rub, you're going to get frizzy and there goes the look. Just blot."

    Next, it's important to use a detangling comb (usually larger than your average comb with wider teeth) starting at the ends of the hair and working your way up the scalp, again so as not to disturb the cuticle of the hair.

    The key step in the prep process is the proper selection of product to use in your hair, and how to apply it. Basically, these products are not only going to help you get the style you want, but they're also going to protect your hair from the heat damage of the dryer.

    "Starting with a basic protectant is a good idea," David says, "like Kerastase's Lait Nutri-Sculpte or Creme Nutri-Sculpte which nourish the cuticle and smooth it even more to make drying easy, or a styling prep spray like Bumble and Bumble's Prep."

    Then you have to choose a product designed specifically for your hair type to help hold a smooth, sleek style. "It's key to choose a mousse or gel or volumizer designed for your hair type," David says. "I recommend silicone based creme styling aids for curly or wavy hair, like Sebastian's Laminates Gel, soft setting gels for coarse hair, like Wella's Hair Putty, and volumizing sprays or mousses for fine or limp hair like B&B's thickening spray, Lancome's Hair Sensation Volume Intense mousse, or Kerastase's Mousse Nutri-Sculpte."

    When you have your product chosen, there's one vital step for a great blowout: coat every strand of hair with product. Working in small sections, apply the product to the ends of your hair first, and then work your way up the hair shaft. Finish by combing through your hair to distribute the product evenly.

  • Step 2: The Blowdry "If there's one thing you have to be to get the perfect blowout at home," David says, "it's patient."

    Do a quick blowdry of the entire head, but when it's somewhat dry, it's best to section off your hair with butterfly clips so that you can start at the bottom of the head (the hair close to your neck in the back) and work your way up without all the other hair getting in the way and going all frizzy.

    Many women complain that they can't dry the backs of their heads well, but concentrate first on the layers underneath, which tend to be the curliest. Flip your head forward, drying hair with hands until it's 80 percent dry. Then make a horizontal part two inches from your neckline, clipping up the hair above it and drying the bottom section using a round brush. Continue pulling sections down and drying until the whole back is dry.

    Using the right kind of brush for your hair type is vital for the perfect blowout. "For coarse, wavy, curly, or thick hair, I like 100 percent boar bristle brushes," says David. "For finer hair, brushes made with metal at the base help bend the hair well and give a little more style and lift."

    It's also important to have a dryer with mega power: at the minimum, between 1500 and 1800 watts. (On The Early Show, Evangelista used the Super Solano Hair Dryer, which has 1800 watts, 5 temperatures, and 2 speed settings.)

    Another important tip: Use the nozzle that comes with the dryer. "Using the nozzle gives you more control of the air flow," says David. "You're not going to get a perfectly smooth look without it."

    Using a medium-sized barrel brush, pull the hair taut from roots to ends. As you move the brush down the hair cuticle, follow it with the nozzle of the dryer (so you're moving the dryer down the length of your hair too) with the nozzle pointing down.

    "If you're haphazard with air direction," David says, "your look's going to look haphazard. Pointing the nozzle up the cuticle will disrupt it and make it look frizzy. Pointing it down the hair shaft will ensure a smooth, flat cuticle."

    For extra lift, with hair wrapped around the brush, blast the underside of the roots before blowing out each section. Continue to dry all the way around your head in the same fashion and, again, be patient!

  • Step 3: Post-Blowout: Invariably, you're going to have a little frizz or a few fly-away hairs when you've finished blowing out your hair. (Even the professionals get those!) The key is to pick the perfect finishing product to make your look smooth and perfect.

    For each of these products, it is important to warm the prescribed dose up in your hands before applying it to hair. If you do that, it will go on more smoothly and evenly.

    For extra dry or rebellious hair, try some of the finishing oils that are on the market, like Jean Marc Maniatis' Liss & Love, or Kerastase's Serum Nutri-Sculpt.

    For fine hair that needs a little more weight to keep a style, try a cream like Lavett & Chin's Shea Butter Hair Creme, or L'Oreal's Crystal Wax. For extra shine, try a shine-inhancing serum like Wella's Moonshine, John Frieda's Sheer Blonde Dream Cream, or Kerastase's Vernis Nutri-Sculpt.

    If you have very curly hair that needs an extra bit of coaxing into a smooth style, get a gentle curling iron ("sapphire" irons and "ceramic" irons are the most gentle to hair and won't fry it the way basic metal irons would) and run quickly across stubborn sections of hair.

If you follow each of these steps, you can expect your at-home blowout to last for several days, and that means you'll save several hundred dollars each month.
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