You could do it. Yes, of course. Go borrow Mom’s hairdryer from the Ice Age and get that blowout done! No? True, you’ll only be in the bathroom for hours huffing and puffing to hold that heavy thing up. And did it ever get hot? No. Okay, let’s get back to 2021.
Technology has us all running to keep up with the latest, so let’s see what’s new in hairdryers and get it done right. Tourmaline? Ceramic? Titanium? Which will give us hair that runs with the breeze – even if it’s just for a week?
What Is A Natural Hair Blowout?
Blowouts are designed to give movement and flow. You can almost see each hair move in the same direction as the head turns. Beautiful. That’s a good blowout.
Blowouts can be accomplished on pretty much any head of hair. To get that swing, Type 2 hair needs it too! For curly and coily hair types, the process becomes more involved. That’s because you’re breaking down the natural curly bonds of the hair to assume a straight structure, get rid of frizz-like-never-before, and produce movement.
Stretching Your Natural Hair or Blowing It Out?
We’re not just stretching the hair here. If that’s what you’re after, you can stretch your hair with braids or knots. Stretching the hair is perfect for checking your true length or for trimming damaged ends. But don’t use a blow dryer to stretch your hair! After all, why take the risk with heat damage, if you’re going to bun it back up anyway?
That’s not what we’re after. We want it to whip then revert in a week or two back to curls.
The Tools: What Does A Great Natural Hair Blowout Require?
There are a couple of essential items you need to get a good, moving blowout at home.
Movement Sans Damage: a Bonnet and a Bunch of Rollers
Rollers, what?? Let me say this up front. If you’ve ever blow-dried your hair and eventually suffered breakage, it’s because putting focal heat on wet or damp hair causes bubbles within the hair shaft. In short, that means brittle, dry hair that eventually breaks.
The best way to avoid damage and retain a straight blowout is to use rollers on very small sections and dry your hair first using a bonnet attachment. (It is old technology. So don’t let anyone see you.)
Once your hair is fully dry, only then use a blow dryer. Yes, this is the Dominican blowout method. Before you stop reading, compare the length retention of Dominican hair and ours and get back to me. (Ahem, it’s the same hair.) Our normal straightening procedures make us constant targets for big “trims” at the salon.
That point aside, it’s just easier to straighten the keratin in your hair when it’s already partially straight. As in, we blow dry first then use a curling iron. Check.
Okay, so use rollers that are big enough for your hair to only wrap around one, or one and a half, times. The curls aren’t the point, but stretching the keratin is. So roll with tension. Rollers also give a lift to the roots and that’s where the movement starts!
In a salon, they use hard, plastic rollers. For home use, a few dozen Velcro rollers will be easier to work with.
A round brush is the second step to get movement. 1 ¼” or 1 ½” barrel brushes are the easiest to handle because they’re the same size as the average curling iron. Go bigger if your hair is longer. After your hair is dry from the bonnet, use the round brush to streeettttch each roller section straight with the fantastic heat of your new blow dryer. Focus the dryer on each section, one by one. The coarser your hair, the harder the bristles you will need.
Blowouts require a good blow dryer. We need the right shape, though. If you can’t maneuver a 12” nozzle around your head with a round brush, what’s the point?
Your blow dryer also needs to be powerful enough to straighten curls and coils – at least 1600 watts are needed. But unless you’re a pro, it can’t be too powerful or too hot, or instant damage will result. So which type will combat frizz and give you the movement you’re looking for?
Which Type of Dryer for Natural Hair Blowouts?
Cut. Got a friend with a story about her hair reverting unexpectedly at a party? She probably used her mom’s dryer. Take two.
Okay, so here’s what’s up. There are basically three types of hairdryers in the at-home market, although you’ll find some that have more than one technology: tourmaline, titanium, and ceramic.
With ceramic dryers, the heat from the dryer passes through a ceramic device that changes the structure of the heat and allows the hair to heat up evenly. That means you won’t have patches of breakage from the dryer distributing too much heat too suddenly.
These dryers give off an abundance of negative ions with even heat. They seal the cuticle of the hair, preventing frizz and excessive damage. There’s a problem with titanium, though. It heats up so quickly that it’s hard for the average user to control the levels of heat applied to the hair. So it’s probably better left to professionals.
Tourmaline basically heats evenly like ceramic, but it uses ionic technology to produce shine and reduce frizz. You could consider it a milder form of titanium.
Good news: Many dryers are both ceramic and tourmaline, making them great for at-home blowouts – more movement, less frizz!
Other considerations: Wattage
We don’t need the wattage to be so high that the minute you turn on the dryer it frizzles your hair up into smoke! You guessed it, super-high wattages are for professionals. Of course, we want the dryer’s strength to be enough to do the job in about an hour, (No, thanks, Mom. Keep your dryer.) Still, for novices, look for watts between 1600 to 1875 – no higher than 2000.
Best Blow Dryers for Natural Hair Blowouts
We kept an eye on the shape and weight for ease of use.
- Andis 82105: Tourmaline Ceramic Styling Hairdryer
Okay, it looks old school. But the shape of this dryer makes it easier to work with while using a round brush. It also comes with a brush attachment that will give you some tension – just not as much as a round brush. It has 1875 watts.
Note: We wouldn’t recommend the hot air brushes that have a round brush shape as none of them go over 1100 watts. They’ll straighten your hair, sure, but it won’t last.
Made just for resistant coils and curls, this dryer combines all three technologies. It’s ceramic, tourmaline and titanium. It’s 1875 watts. Because it has titanium, I would start working with the low heat setting first.
This 1875 watt dryer also has a short nozzle and it uses ceramic and positive/negative ionic technology. It reduces frizz but is best for looser curl patterns.
The Art: How to Get That Flow from a Natural Hair Blowout
The best results I’ve seen from blowouts have been in the Dominican Republic. Now I know Dominicans have a bad reputation, and not all of it is false. But if you’re able to do your Dominican blowout at home, you won’t have to worry about anyone putting a spoon of relaxer in your conditioner, right? Some stylists do that because of a lack of technique.
But imagine Dominicans doing this process every two weeks and still having healthy-looking hair. No, it will probably never revert to their original curls and coils. We recommend you only do a blowout a few times a year. Your hair won’t suffer, and you should revert to your natural texture without any issues.
Here’s the full process:
- Wash with a clarifying shampoo then deep condition and rinse. It’s better still if you wrap the deep conditioning product onto your hair and apply heat to allow the product to penetrate.
- Roller set with a water-based leave-in conditioner. You could also layer your heat protectant in this phase by using a straightening balm instead. Don’t be heavy-handed.
Otherwise, your hair will revert in less than a week as the product wears off.
- Grab that hairdryer bonnet. It mimics hooded dryers that give a constant, indirect flow of air. Did you know that for wet hair, the dryer should be kept 15cm away and used with a constant motion? The proper way to use a blow dryer on wet hair will only give us a frizzy, tangled mess! We recommend a larger bonnet to keep the air flowing constantly. Check!
Hairdryer bonnets are designed to slip right over the barrel of your dryer, and the tube is at least three feet long for indirect heat.
- Use focused blow-drying on the hair with a heat protectant and round brush only once your hair is completely dry.
- Flat iron, with no extra product added – and only if necessary.
Now here’s the thing. Silk presses are way more popular than the Dominican blowout. But because they skip the hooded dryer step, it will damage your hair more than the Dominican blowout ever could. Remember no direct heat on wet hair! If you keep silk pressing, and your stylist keeps cutting your “ends”… eventually you might be using a silk press wig instead.
The Products: What Does a Great Natural Hair Blowout Require?
Use no oil-based products with heat! Our hair loves oil, but using oils with heat literally leads to frying. Ah, yes! That old smell of burning hair in the kitchen. You get my point.
A Good Conditioner
Don’t just start with freshly washed hair. It’s good to prepare your hair before the blowout by using a good hydrating mask or deep conditioner.
Heat Protecting Serum
Now here’s the thing, hair can only accept temperatures up to 130 (266F) before damage starts to occur. The highest most blow dryers go is 140C.
Dow, a manufacturer of silicone products, wants us to know, “Silicones [form] protective film to help prevent water loss from the hair shaft caused by the heat of dryers or heated styling tools.” You’ll need a good heat protectant because heat destroys the inside of the hair first by boiling the water inside it and evaporating it. Healthy hair is about 25% water.
Heat protectors allow you to use high temperatures while protecting some of the integrity of the hair. Heat protectants do not protect the hair fully, so some damage will still occur. Proper technique and a good heat protectant will help out.
Because most heat protectants are made with silicones, the downside is that you might need a sulfate-based shampoo to get it out fully.
Note: You do not want water in your serum before blowing it dry as, again, your hair will boil from the inside. The serums below contain no water or oil.
- Inverto Revolution Advanced Silicone Serum
- Kenra Platinum Silkening Gloss
- Giovanni Eco Chic Frizz Be Gone
- Blowpro Weather Girl Anti-Frizz Serum
Straightening Balm or Leave-in Conditioner
Straightening balm is another type of heat protectant serum. There are usually more conditioning ingredients added. Some of the best balms are:
These do contain water, so I would use these like leave-in conditioners by smoothing a little into the hair before rolling during the first phase of drying.
How Long Will My Natural Hair Blowout Last?
It really depends on the humidity in your area, so don’t expect miracles. However, if you wrap it nightly, your straight hair should last at least a week.
We also like using a little no-water serum combined with pin curls or Bantu knots. But if you’ve reached day five and your hair wants to revert, use a little water-based serum or leave-in conditioner instead with your knots.
Can My Hair Handle A Natural Hair Blowout?
Blowouts, well, heat period, are really only for certain types of hair. In short, your hair needs to be able to endure the heat so that it doesn’t break off while you’re blow-drying.
Hair that is thin in diameter is usually not as strong as hair that is thick in diameter. If your hair strands are thin, but your hair is abundant, you’re probably thinking that a blowout will help you reduce tangling. That’s true – if you have good tensile strength. And even if you do, know that your hair is more fragile than coarse strands.
Weak tensile strength
Grab a strand of hair from your comb or brush. Stretch it between your fingers. If it pops easily, forget about that blowout.
Heat will exacerbate breakage if your hair is already damaged. Use protective styling until you feel comfortable cutting off all the damage, then try a blowout.
Working With “Problem” Natural Hair in a Blowout
Curly hair that has thick strands blows out easier than coily hair. Here’s what to do if you run into “problems” with virgin, coily hair.
I should call this healthy hair. It’s hair that has never been straightened – or “trained.” Make sure to use plenty of rollers to get each strand as straight as possible in the first phase. You’ll almost certainly need a flat iron in the end. Sometimes a point is reached where the hair just refuses to go further. Wrap it and leave it for the next day.
The weird thing is that, regardless of texture, Dominicans use very little product when doing a blowout. We’re used to applying a lot and that can make your blowout revert almost as quick as you unplug the dryer. So change a few habits, even if they are different from what you are used to getting at the salon.
Keep in mind that, in school, your hairstylist had extensive education about hair Types 2A and 2B. Some things from cosmetology school apply to most hair types, but when dealing with coils things are learned along the way. Then there’s word of mouth, and you know how fast that travels about hair. Regardless of what anyone says, there’s always room for new straightening techniques, a little more science, and a lot less burnt and damaged hair.
So go hand your Mom back that hairdryer from 1952. She’ll be asking you to do her hair in a minute with your new one anyway.