So, I’ve shared before that, when it comes to natural hair—and hair-length retention—tips, in many ways, I’m a total non-conformist. One example is the whole “Don’t you dare apply heat to your hair” rule that a lot of people adhere to. While I get how that may work for some, it was actually while I was saturating my hair with moisture that I was getting more tangles and seeing more breakage. After a little trial-and-error, what I discovered was, when I blow out my hair on wash day (which for me is pretty much twice a month) and then put it into some sort of protective style or I simply braid it at night (in order to keep it stretched) and then take it out in the morning, my hair has grown more than it ever has (and shoot, I am a high porosity kind of gal!). That’s why I am of the personal belief that it’s not so much that heat is not our friend; it’s simply that we need to learn how to apply it correctly.

Since this is the fall season and, due to a lack of outdoor heat, you might be wanting to rock a blowout more than usual, I wanted to share with you some ways to use a blow dryer on your hair in such a way that it will not damage your hair; how you can keep it stretched without overdoing the dryer process.

Are you ready to become allies, rather than enemies, with your own blow dryer?

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Image Source: @Getty Images

1. Choose the right dryer.

I promise you, if more of us paid attention to this particular tip alone, we’d be a lot less anxious about wearing blowouts more often. Using the kind of blow dryers that have limited temperature options, isn’t made out of either tourmaline and ceramic, and doesn’t have at least a couple of different attachments, is the kind of dryer that will fry your hair—if not immediately, after a few uses, for sure. That’s why, before purchasing a hair dryer, it’s a good idea to do some thorough research to see which one will truly work best for you. To get you started, check out “7 Best Blow Dryer(s) for Natural Hair 2019”.

2. Deep condition your hair.

There’s no way around the fact that blow drying your hair is going to take a bit of a toll on your natural locks. One way it does this is by zapping out the moisture that your hair needs in order to remain moisturized and frizz-less. Something that you can do to stay a step ahead of the dry heat that comes from your dryer is to deep condition your hair. I don’t mean for five minutes either. Once you apply the conditioner to your freshly-washed hair, let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it out. Then use a detangling comb to get as many kinks and tangles out of your hair as you can. Trust me, the more “pre-work” that you do to your hair before drying it, the less damage your dryer will be able to do.

3. Remove as much dampness as possible.

One mistake that I used to make, quite a bit, was running the dryer through my hair after only briefly towel drying it. Do. Not. Do. This. You are only setting you and your hair up for it to fry; especially if you place your dryer on a high setting. Instead, use a T-shirt to get as much excess water out of your hair as possible. Then give your hair time to air dry between 60-80 percent. Just make sure that you apply a leave-in conditioner so that your hair will still be manageable once it loses some of the moisture that came from washing it.

4. Use a creamy thermal heat protectant.

The next step that is an absolute must is to put on a thermal heat protectant. The reason why this is such a necessary step is because, when your hair is dry, your cuticles are open. When the heat hits them, that makes them far more susceptible to heat damage. By applying a thermal heat protectant to your tresses, it smooths your cuticles so that less damage occurs. Just make sure that you use a spray only if you’ve got fine hair. Heat protectants that are in the form of a cream are far better for hair that is thick or is a type 4 in texture.

5. Apply oils after, not during.

It’s always a good idea to seal your ends too. Not only because they are the oldest parts of your hair, but also because you want to make sure they get enough moisture so that they do not split, once the heat hits them. Just make sure that, as far as the sealing process goes, you apply the oil to your hair while you’re applying your leave-in conditioner. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so and then use your hair dryer. Oh, and try to avoid adding more oil to your hair as you are drying your hair. Why? Well, oil and heat are the perfect storm for fried hair or, at the very least, extremely frizzy hair. If you want a little more sheen that oil tends to provide, add a little more once your blowout is completely done.

6. Blow dry, downwards, in sections.

Now that we’ve gotten a little of prepping out of the way, in order to achieve the perfect blowout, technique has to be factored in too. Make sure to section your hair into 4-6 pieces, just so that it will be easier to blow your hair dry without tangling it up in the process. If you opt to not use an attachment, use a round brush and start at the bottom of your hair, working your way up to the roots. Use your hands to roll your hair up and pull it straight, kind of simultaneously. Also, make sure to dry downward as much as possible. When you blow your hair backwards, that can sometimes go against the cuticles of your hair and cause damage. If you’re more of a visual person, you can check out some blowouts for natural hair videos here, here and here.

7. Don’t overdo it.

One more thing. Sometimes, even when our hair is prepped just right and we’re using our blow dryer just like we should, we still end up wrecking our hair. How? By mistaking our dryer for a flat iron. What I mean by that is while some blow dryers are pretty impressive, none of them are really designed to make your hair bone straight. But if you forget this and keep passing through your hair over and over and over again, the combo of the heat and tension can also end up damaging your hair. So, if you want a long straight look, get a professional to flat iron your hair. But if you simply want length and texture, rock your blowout—and trust that no more than three passes with your dryer is all that you need.