Blow-dry bars are undoubtedly a Top Five innovation of the 21st century, second or third only to the iPhone and the self-checkout kiosk at select McDonald's locations. I might actually have to push it further down the list thanks to the new concept coming out of one of my favorite New York salons, Blackstones: A private blow-dry class (it's called Style Tutor and it's $175), where you emerge with a perfect blowout (that you kind of did yourself, but under professional supervision) and all the skills necessary to do it all again at home. By yourself. Without supervision. For free.
Smart, right? For Blackstones and for you because you should be able to do your hair yourself. Not so that you never get a blow-out (or a head massage) ever again. Just for the sheer exhilaration of knowing that if you get stranded somewhere without $40 but with a hair dryer + round brush, you know what to do with it. It was certainly a nightmare scenario for me until my class at Blackstones. That, and all my teeth falling out in front of Tom Hanks.
Of course, learning to blow-dry your own hair is not something you can do simply by reading. You really have to go and experience it—the muscle memory of the brush in one hand and the blow-dryer in the other should really sink in. I trained with Angela Soto, who was patient and also uncompromising, not unlike a really effective math tutor. You should go see her if you can! And also use a Dyson Supersonic. That's what Blackstones uses because it alleviates the need for an immediate chiropractor session directly after the class. But if you can't (and there's no blow-dry class near you), there's one thing you should know: It's all about the roots.
Getting perfectly smooth-but-not-too-flat roots is a three-step process. Four, if you include letting your hair get pretty dry. This was a thing I didn't know! You can more efficiently blow-dry hair when it's not soaking wet. Even if it's curly and frizzy! Have a spray bottle on hand if you lose all the moisture. But in general, you need less than you think.
OK, for the real tip: You're going to blow-dry each section three ways. First, take a small section and place your round brush in front of it (closer to your face than the back of your head). As you smooth the brush along the section, move the blow-dryer with it (slightly behind, and angled down and out) on top of the hair. Focus on the two-thirds of the hair; don't fry your ends quite yet. Once you've done that stroke, you're going to start from the top again, but position the brush and dryer behind the section. Slowly move them down the hair. Then, for your final root-step, position the brush and the dryer on top of the hair. Pull them out and down together one more time. Now you can focus on your ends—twist 'em into beachy waves, keep 'em straight. Whatever; I'm not going to tell you how to live your life. I'm just going to tell you how to have smooth roots. Do with that what you will.
Maybe the blow-dry is not for you: Instead, read here for the best air-dry products out there.