As life would have it, as I’m sitting here and typing this out, my natural hair is in a blowout—and I absolutely adore it! While I’m in the process of trying to grow these tresses of mine to a longer length, I think I’ve found my groove in rockin’ box braids in the summer and blowouts in the fall/winter season.
If there’s a part of you that’s already side-eyeing me because you think that wearing a blowout more than a couple of times a year is bad for my hair, eh—I beg to differ. If there’s one thing that this natural hair journey has taught me, it’s that all of us are different; what works for one does not necessarily work for the other. And, as far as my hair is concerned, I’ve actually experienced more growth since I’ve been applying heat than when I was applying the no-heat method (too much moisturize weakens my cuticles; it’s weird but true).
Not to say that blowouts don’t require some extra TLC; it most certainly does. So, as the weather is getting cooler out here (which means less sweating which means less shrinkage), if you want to stretch your own curls out, here’s how to do it with as little heat and/or inclement weather damage as possible.
1. Buy the right dryer
There is no way that you are going to protect your hair from potential blowout damage if you don’t start with basics, and that is investing in a great hairdryer. Trying to figure out which one works best for you requires a little bit of trial and error, but thanks to a lot of naturalistas on YouTube, they can help to remove some of the guesswork. For instance, a ton of natural hair ladies are quite fond of the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Styler (it’ll cost you around $40). It offers up some other options while providing a thorough breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
2. Get a good trim
I’m hoping you know by now that trimming your hair will not help it to grow faster. What it does do is remove split ends and fairy knots. What it also does is help to give your hair a nice shape; something that you definitely want while rocking a blowout. The reason why I thought this was important to mention is that, while some stylists claim that you should trim your hair every 4-6 weeks, it’s my personal opinion that you should do it as often as your hair needs it. For some, it’s that often but for others, it’s 3-4 times a year (if that much). Basically, it all depends on how well you take care of your hair (especially your ends) in between trims. But yeah, if it’s been several months since the last time that you at least dusted your ends, your blowout will only look better if you trim your tresses first.
3. Deep condition your locks
Hopefully, you’re deep conditioning your hair on a regular basis (at least twice a month). But if there’s ever a time when applying this step is crucial, it’s when you’re about to put heat on your hair. The reason why is because blow drying has a way of zapping the moisture out of your hair. This means that if you deep condition your tresses before pointing a dryer in your direction, that can help to keep your hair from losing moisture which can ultimately lead to split ends and breakage. As far as what kind of conditioner to use, I’ve become a big fan of combining Chebe powder and Blue Magic Cholesterol Conditioning Rinse together. I wash my hair, let the mixture sit on my head for at least four hours, rinse thoroughly and enjoy how unbelievably soft my hair from root to tip. (By the way, you can find Chebe power pretty easily on sites like Etsy.)
4. Use a cream thermal protectant
When you’re about to blow out your hair, something that is an absolute must is thermal heat protectant. What it basically does is serve as a barrier between your blow dryer (or any heat styling tool) and your hair. That said, something that used to baffle me was, no matter how much thermal heat protectant I would use, my hair still didn’t feel as soft as I thought it should. When I mentioned it to a customer service associate at Sally’s Beauty Supply, she shared with me that she felt that thermal sprays are for fine hair while thicker hair should use a cream. And you know what? Ever since I switched over to a cream, my hair has been smoother, softer and shinier. But whether your hair is fine or thick, out of all of the tips here, please don’t skip out on this one. Thermal heat protectant is a true hair-saver on so many levels.
5. Add a little oil
The finishing touch on any blowout is sheen. Lots and lots of sheen! You could apply some in the form of a hairspray however, I prefer to apply a mixture of essential oil with a carrier oil. One of my personal favorite combos is jasmine oil and sweet almond oil. It looks divine and smells unbelievable from the time I leave my house until I walk right back through my front door.
6. Use low (and minimal) heat
It might sound crazy to hear me say this, but the reason why so many people experience heat damage with blowouts isn’t due to their blow dryer; it’s actually because of how hot the setting is. Well, that and the fact that they opt to dry their hair while it’s still sopping well which can cause them to literally “fry” their hair. Two things that you can do to reduce your risk of heat damage is to use an old T-shirt to soak up as much water as possible from your wet hair. Then, use a low or medium setting to dry it. Sure, it may take longer to dry, but it’s worth it since it means less breakage overall. Right?
7. Braid it up every night
If you plan on wearing a blowout for a week or more, between humidity, hairstyling and rolling around in the bed at night, you’re bound to experience some shrinkage. One way to reduce that is to keep your hair stretched out as you catch some z-z-zs. One way to do that is by avoiding using the dryer again (the more heat, the more vulnerable your hair is to damage); instead braid your hair up before turning it. It doesn’t have to be a set of award-winning cornrows or anything. Just section your hair with your hands and put 4-8 braids in your hair. It’s a heatless way to wake up to a blowout that is still full and fabulous.
8. Keep maintenance products to a minimum
If you want your blowout to have volume and movement, it’s best to apply as little product as possible. But if you do want to add a Lil’ sumthin’ sumthin’ just so that it will look shiny or fresh in between blowouts, we’ve got you covered. All you need to do is check out our write-up “Top 10 Products for Your Best Blowout”. Or, if you like to support new lines (especially ones that are run by fellow naturalistas), one that I have recently become a fan of—and do actually use—is Canvas Beauty Brand.
9. Keep your hands out of your hair
I already know. Once you’ve blown your hair out and you see all of that extra length, it can be tempting to continually run your hands through them like you’re in a self-produced hair commercial or something. But remember—your hair is already a little stressed out because it has been stretched out. You don’t want to even put more tension on it by constantly running your hands through it too. So yeah, as much as possible, keep the manipulation down to a bare minimum. Also, if you can’t seem to stop messing with your hair, no matter how much you try, wrap it up in a scarf or something. As you can see with this video, there are all sorts of way to use a scarf without totally covering up your crowning glory in the process.
10. ALWAYS wrap it up at night
No matter how you try and prop your head up at night or how “pretty” you attempt to sleep, the only way to get a good night’s rest is if you’re not worrying about your hair the entire time. So, if you’re not going to braid it all up, at least pull it up into a pineapple (with the help of a silk or satin scarf). It will reduce shrinkage and tangles so that all you’ve got to do in the morning is put a little oil in your hair, maybe run a Denman brush through it and head on out of the door. You. With your glorious blowout!