Pulling off the Perfect Coif(fure)
September 30, 2015 12:05 PM   Subscribe

How do women get their hair to look so good every day?!

Whenever I get a blow out after a cut I feel so put together and so much better about my appearance--which naturally boosts my confidence and my day in general. It only lasts for so long though, and any effort to replicate a blowout at home usually results in a time-consuming mess. I've stopped even trying more recently after I dyed my hair, as poor attempts with a hairdryer/curling iron made my hair even more frizzy and damaged. I just can't seem to do it!

And yet whenever I go out I see well-hair-styled ladies with beautiful sleek locks or those perfect waves (you know what I'm talking about). How do they achieve that on a daily basis?

I'm fairly low-maintenance so if the answer is to get up super early and spend 3 hours on styling then I'm not so interested. But if there are any secrets/tips out there for creating great looking daily hair--in a reasonable time frame--please share them!

For ref: My hair is long, modest-mermaid length (down to the boobs), a bit damaged from an ombre job that required bleaching. It's very thick asian hair with a coarse texture, so lots of volume but prone to creasing/frizzing. I wash every other day and lightly blow-dry, and at the very least I'd like to be able to make it look smooth and shiny instead of coarse and on the dry side.
posted by sprezzy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
if the answer is to get up super early and spend 3 hours on styling then I'm not so interested

Just the other day I asked one of my coworkers how she gets her (long) hair to look so nice every day. I recently cut all my hair off again after growing it out (long for me, just below chin length) because it was just awful and terrible, so the problem was on my mind.

She said she wakes up at 5am on "hair days" to work on it and puts it up in rollers and she only washes it every three days to keep the style in.

So yes, I think lots and lots of time is a very important aspect of this.
posted by phunniemee at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2015 [12 favorites]

Seconding lots of time, effort, and practice. The only exceptions I have seen to this were rare cases of outstanding genes, but even then, their hair only looked beautiful, but not especially sleek or polished.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:23 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Some women go to their stylist or a blow-dry bar once a week. Then baby the style through the rest of the week with dry shampoo and home touchups. Women with coarser hair will get a long-lasting treatment like a Brazilian blow-out/keratin treatment that makes hair smoother and shinier for a few months.

For at-home, getting your hair healthy is a really important first step. Look into hot rollers as an easier technique to get smooth, bouncy hair. A good, strong blowdryer and curling wand will help prevent frizz and get better results faster at home. I recently lost my Rusk blowdryer in a move and my hair looks way worse when I try to style at home now that I'm using my old, cheap conair. It would be good to know what products you are already using.

But yes, it takes time and practice for the vast majority of women who look flawlessly put-together without hiring a hairstylist. Mad props to them.
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

Are you using any styling products? It may be as simple as finding and using the right products. Big dollop of heat-protective product before you blow-dry (I like Kiehl's Heat-Protective Silk Straightening Cream), little slick of some sort of leave-in conditioner or anti-frizz product after you blow-dry. Also, towel dry your hair a little before applying product or blow-drying so it's not sopping wet.

The thing that always worked for me (when I had long hair, which I no longer do) was this technique I read in a magazine called something like "365 degree blow drying." The idea was that you start at one side of your head and, using a round brush and a blow dryer, brush/dry your hair up and over the top of your head all the way to the other side. Then start from the other side and do it. Then do it again, but going around the back of your head. It's like you're brushing and drying your hair in a continuous circle. You still start with the brush and dryer at the roots of your hair, but instead of brushing down or out, you're brushing over and around your head, using your head as sort of a mold. The other tip from that article was to continue drying until your hair is completely dry, otherwise it will get frizzy.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:31 PM on September 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

It took me a long time to learn what kind of hair cut works for my hair, which is almost certainly not at all the same as for your hair. If you see someone with great hair and think they have your hair type, ask them how they keep their hair looking so great - they'll be flattered. A good cut is way easier to style.

Keep your hair healthy. Hair is dead, and once it's damaged, it's harder to keep it looking great. I have thick, coarse, wavy hair and use tons of gel and lots of silicone shine spray (or serum). The gel helps keep it from frizzing, the silicone product coats the hairs and smooths the cuticle. It makes my hair shinier and slipperier, so it doesn't frizz, and tangles less. It's marvelous for dry and/or damaged hair.
posted by theora55 at 12:50 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Washing and blow-drying your hair that often is probably contributing to the dryness and frizz. I've got hair as long as yours and I only wash it a couple of times a week and blow-dry it only for special occasions. In between washings, I use dry shampoo (this one is my fave) to keep my hair from getting oily.

I do, however, apply hair oil (I like this one) to combat frizz after I've washed it, and I flat-iron my bangs most days so that they look sleek. Everyone once in a while, I'll do an overnight conditioning treatment just on the ends of my hair with plain old coconut oil. It's kept my bleached and coloured hair in shockingly good condition over the three years I've been rocking pink & purple tresses.
posted by burntflowers at 12:51 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only shortcuts I know are committing to a weekly blow-out and not washing between or getting a keratin treatment at the salon which will keep hair straight for about 3 months and you may only need to touch-up with a flat iron or curling iron depending on the look you're after. Those women with fabulous hair are usually spending a fabulous amount of time on it and also sleeping in silk wraps to preserve the styling work.

If your hair is damaged from styling or processing and is dull as a result, you will probably have to do some serious repair treatments with ultra-moisturizing conditioners with lots of protein in them. You may also want to get some heat protection products for when you're heat styling to prevent further damage.
posted by quince at 12:51 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been struggling with this too (as per my question history). Here are some things I recently figured out:
1. More people than you think either lucked out in the gene department, or their genes are common enough that there are established cultural methods they can reference, or they aren't bothered by not washing their hair (that one goes a really long way). So don't beat yourself up.

2. I worked with my stylist to find a hair cut that massively cuts down all the useless bulk. This was a huge improvement. It's just impossible to straighten it yourself if you have too much mass.

3. I shelled out for a conditioning treatment that made it softer and more suggestible. I also got better shampoo (Shea Moisture brand)

4. I figured out a way to do my hair stuff sitting down in the morning. With all the changes above it only takes about half an hour, which is acceptable to me.
posted by bleep at 12:55 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Try washing your hair at night and/or letting it air dry. It helps de-frizz. Then my hair got a lot sleeker when I switched to Head and Shoulders (I only had very mild dandruff and itching.)

But yes, overall either people who have great hair just have great hair (texture, type, sleek) or they wake up super early to do it every day.

That's why mine's now a super short undercut. :) I still have to style it, but it takes about a tenth of the time and isn't damaged.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:57 PM on September 30, 2015

Very expensive wigs. I'm not kidding. I worked with a woman for years who had amazing hair every day. After about a year, she started having amazing hair on some days that was physically impossible to have, given the amazing hair she had had the day before.

So, that's always an option. Invest in beautiful wigs. Properly wearing and caring for a wig takes much less time, effort and product than styling your own hair.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:58 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I, too, have (part) Asian hair that is thick and a bit coarse. It's probably the same length as yours. My secret for beautifully shiny, smooth hair is coconut oil . Once a week, or whenever I have time, I apply coconut oil so that it thoroughly soaks at least the bottom 4-5 inches of hair, and sometimes I'll go the whole nine yards and apply it to all of my hair, scalp included. I use enough so that it looks very wet, but is not dripping off. Then I clip it up in a big clip, and wear a super-attractive foil shower cap to trap heat in while the oil works its magic, which takes 20 to 40 minutes. I then shampoo at least twice, usually 3 times so that I'm not leaving it greasy and oil-filled, but man does my hair look awesome for the next few days.

I dislike spending time styling my hair, but this only takes about 5 minutes to apply the oil, then you can do whatever you want for the half hour or so that it's under the cap, and shower time. Not nearly as active or tedious as daily blow-drying or anything.

I also use this Kenra Silkening Gloss, just one pump, spread throughout bottom 8-10 inches of hair, while it's damp after a shower. Reduces frizz by a lot and smells like candy strawberries.

I do not heat-style my hair; that only happens at salons twice a year, and rarely for occasions when I want to curl my hair. I shower at night and gently towel dry (squeeze the water out, don't fluff it up), the the Kenra gloss above (any silicone product will probably act similarly) and then let my hair air-dry on my pillow. Way less frizzy and coarse than when I let it air-dry during the day.
posted by rachaelfaith at 1:00 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

About the first 35 years of my life I lived with increasingly frizzy and frustrating hair and mostly kept it up in a ponytail until I rapidly started losing it after a severe diet and decided I would wear it down while I still had some left. Before important events I'd go to a salon and get a blowout and watch carefully what the stylist was doing with their big round brush and the blow dryer. Then at home I'd try to do something similar and I eventually did get the hang of it. I learnt that the frizz can be smoothed away with heat and a large round brush. Adding product afterwards will make the smooth result last longer, although it will also gunk up your hair if you apply zealously.

I now regret that I didn't learn the art of the blowdry earlier in life. My hair is a lot thinner now, yet it still looks pretty amazing after even a light blowdry (provided I use a round brush and a bit of product).
posted by Dragonness at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

You say you dry your hair lightly. Spend an extra 5-10 minutes getting it 100% dry. Any moisture left will add to frizziness. You don't have to fry it, hold the dryer at least 6 inches away, but make sure it's totally dry. Moisturize well after every shampoo and get some good mousse or gel, even drugstore products are good. Consider using a heat protecting spray too. And deep-condition every week or so.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:02 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

My hair tends to fairly often look effortlessly great and it's a combination of genetics, a casual attitude towards washing it, and regular (4x/yr) haircuts from a stylist who knows exactly how my hair grows and therefore what today's cut will look like in 3 months. I don't wash in the morning, I wash it at night and it looks much better the next day than it would if I had just washed it. On the days when it is kind of sticky/sweaty/gross I will brush and blow it out as if it was wet from just being washed.

I have found that mefi's constant recommendations of a boar bristle brush do not work for me personally. It makes my hair simultaneously flat and greasy and staticky and generally just totally unacceptable.

Washing only 2-3x a week makes a huge difference in smoothness for me. Washing every other day or god forbid every day leads very quickly to looking ratty. I also have super thick/coarse (native american tho, not asian) hair and if I don't blow it all the way dry with a round brush then I don't get the desired smoothness.

At your next haircut, make sure to say "take off all the dead ends" and not "take off just an inch or so". I've also found slight layering to work better for me than all one length - it's easier to dry without having to use high heat for an entire hour.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:07 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

For me there are two things that give me salon-styled hair at home.

1. I use a little bit of product - mousse or styling cream - on damp hair. I rub it on my hands and work it in from the roots all the way along. Trial and error has taught me that I only need to use half the amount my eyes tell me I should use.

2. Then I dry it with my Babyliss Big Hair rotating brush. In the US it's the Conair Inifinity Pro Spin Air Brush. It's fantastic. It's the only thing that's enabled me to get that smooth, bouncy look that I get from the salon.
posted by essexjan at 1:33 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Personally, I make it very explicit to my stylist that I do not, under any circumstances, want a cut that will require frequent washing or, like, any blowdrying, and I make sure they know that I'm not just blowing smoke about this, that I really truly do not "do" my hair. My style must be wash and wear. It very much limits my choices of styles, but with a good stylist I get something that looks good with minimal fuss. I love my current stylist because she really did give me a cut that looks best when I wash it at night, sleep on it wet, then rub in some Lush R&B moisturizer and run a comb through it. There are maybe 3 possible styles that I could achieve with my hair and these parameters, but she found one and I'm sticking with it.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:33 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wish I could find the tutorial for you (I'll keep looking, I have it somewhere), but I read a blog post a year or two ago that changed my life. Basically, you do your hair once, doesn't have to be right before work, spending time to get it to look nice, and then spend five minutes the rest of the week re-styling or re-activating it. The trick is HAIRSPRAY. I do this now and it looks like: day 1, wash/dry/flatiron with loose curls, and very lightly mist each layer of hair; day 2, dry shampoo/re-curl one or two pieces around face, any others that need it, re-mist with hairspray; day 3, dry shampoo, flatiron curls out, can usually get away with wearing it straight and down, hairspray again; day 4, dry shampoo, side braid, flatiron wispies, more hairspray; day 5, dry shampoo, flatiron the underside of hair, high sock bun, hairspray the everloving bejeesus out of it.

The key is to get it REALLY dry the first day as RHY said above. The other thing that was really counter-intuitive for me is that it actually looks better/cleaner the MORE stuff you put in it. I air-dried my hair a lot this summer, with no product, and was really pushing it to get more than three days without feeling the need to wash it again. I think the combination of the hairspray and the other products kind of soak up oil or something. Just make sure that you are lightly misting the hairspray; just like spritz, spritz, on the layers, not psssssshhhhhh all over, so you don't get too much on there (if that made any sense at all?). You might need to play around with what products you use, but if it helps I use heat protectant that I comb through, and a tiny bit of leave in conditioner on the ends, and then of course about a half a can of the Garnier Volumizing Anti-Humidity Spray a week.
posted by stellaluna at 1:37 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have long, thick, coarse hair. More often than not, I am pleased with how it looks. It's healthy and shiny.

I wash it every day and use Kiehl's Amino Acid Conditioner. I buy it in large quanities when I come across a Kiehl's store during my travels since you can't buy it here. That's how much I love it and don't want to use anything else. Shampoo is usually whatever smells good and is on sale. Other than that, I put Moroccan oil in it and blowdry it. From shower to dry hair takes about 30 minutes. And that's all I ever do with it.

I get my hair cut every three months but now that it's this long, I'm thinking of going for every two months. When I get a haircut, I have my amazing, trusted hairdresser (this is key) prune the ever-living shit out of it. If I didn't have my hair layered, it would have an awkward bell shape like it did when I was a teenager and cutting it myself.

Other than that, I only put it in a ponytail or bun when I'm exercising or dancing and I take it out as soon as I'm done. To get it out of my face, I use Goody Spin Pins (thanks to the folks here!) or a Buff to keep it from getting torn up like it would if it were up in an elastic.

Also, I only brush it twice a day and it looks best in the morning if I wash and blow-dried it the night before.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:39 PM on September 30, 2015

I have* some amazing chin-length curly hair that always gets lots of compliments and I spend between 0 and 5 minutes on it a day. The big keys for me: 1. a great stylist who shapes and thins (so important!) my hair to encourage the curls, and 2. genetics. When I do spend 5 minutes on my hair, it's to apply curl definer and a quick blow dry with diffuser.

*(correct that to HAD, as just last week I cut it into a pixie and the old no-effort routine isn't cutting it and I'm not really sure what to do about my hair anymore)
posted by rhapsodie at 1:58 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow, thanks for all the awesome answers so far! I'll definite be trying some of these tips out :)

Some people asked about current products/styling habits--I usually wash and then air dry for a bit then lightly blow dry. I used to wash at night and just sleep on it/air dry, but my hair tends to really "set" well so if I would sleep in a weird position I'd end up with weird persistent poofy sections or creases in my hair that I'd have to straighten out with heat products anyway. I also started using the hairdryer because it was impossible to get my bangs to look right with airdrying alone, and the thickness of my hair meant that airdrying would take 1.5 hours.

I use just Pantene shampoo + Head and shoulders conditioner--I was using special color treated hair shampoos for a bit but some of them would leave my hair with a really weird smell or would give me terrible dandruff. When my hair is still damp I rub some Moroccan oil into it and that's it.

I know a recommendation to keep hair healthy is to avoid heat-styling products, but how then are stylists able to make it so smooth and soft by blow drying? I assume it must be technique, but when I try using a hairdryer and round brush at home I can't get enough leverage to pull it tight enough or my hair get's stuck in the brush as I'm rolling it out, making it a total frizz disaster.
posted by sprezzy at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2015

My mom cuts my hair, and she learned by watching hair stylists do so. For thick, coarse Asian hair, layers are your best friend. Cutting down the enormous bulk of your hair, especially in the area that starts growing behind your ears and below your earlobe, goes a long way in making it low maintenence and effortlessly awesome. (My mom's secret!) I also never blow-dry, but I make sure to dry my hair as much as possible with a towel before air drying. I think pop stars have really expensive deep conditioning treatments, which is why their hair is so enviably shiny and smooth.

People always comment on how awesome my hair is, and I don't really do much more except shampoo and conditioner, and making sure to brush it a few times a day. I would suggest looking into Asian hair beauty blogs and magazines. I also eat a lot of Omega 3s, through fatty fish.
posted by yueliang at 2:12 PM on September 30, 2015

i like my hair, and think it looks pretty good most days. My secret? I work with it instead of against it. I don't dye it. I don't get it permed or straightened or blown out. It's toward the thick-course-curly end of the spectrum for White People hair. I use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner every other day. I usually let it air dry. I have some gel put in it if it gets frizzy sometimes. I don't brush it much, usually just detangle in the shower with a wide comb with the conditioner in it. The less I do to it the better it looks. I went out last night and had gel in it but didn't have time to wash it this morning- so I worked with it. Dirty hair=updo.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:10 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

So, I am occasionally accused of having "great, wavy hair" like you describe. I definitely don't get up at the crack of dawn for it... in fact, I don't pay much particular attention.

I use this stuff after washing with a small amount of clarifying shampoo and not-too-hot water, and let my hair air dry. Yes, it will crimp funny if you sleep on it wet! I brush sparingly and gently, and never put it in a ponytail (avoiding a huge, ugly crimp).

When I don't do the above, my hair is messier. And I could never just not wash my hair every day like people are suggesting (I have tried all the things).

Genetics plays some role, but the other main thing is the cut. Like soren_lorensean, I always tell the stylist that I don't blow dry, so they'd better give me a cut that won't need it. The reason the blow out is so smooth and soft is because the stylist has physically beaten it into submission and slicked it with silicone. This is OK once in a while but if your hair frizzes you are asking for trouble to blow dry on the regular.
posted by zennie at 3:16 PM on September 30, 2015

My initial answer was a bit brief, so I'll weigh I with a few more thoughts. I have long, reasonably thick, East Asian hair, and it is frequently admired, but rarely styled because I am lazy. I attribute this to about 80-90% genetics, as my mother has the same hair and same lazy style routine.

I only wash it every few days, and even then, sometimes only using conditioner to "wash" it. I almost never blow dry it, and generally wash at night and try to let it dry before going to bed lest I wake up with bizarre pillow creases. I generally keep it in long, loose layers that wave slightly of their own accord, and I don't keep it in tight buns or ponytails for long if I can help it. It invariably looks nicer when I get regular trims, and I've been experimenting with fancy-schmancy "natural" products, although I'm not convinced they've made much of a difference. None of this routine will transform your hair into a chic and effortless 'do, but it may improve your overall hair health.
posted by Diagonalize at 3:26 PM on September 30, 2015

when I try using a hairdryer and round brush at home I can't get enough leverage to pull it tight enough or my hair get's stuck in the brush as I'm rolling it out, making it a total frizz disaster.

Maybe the sections of hair you are trying to roll up are too big? For me it's also far easier to do it by feel and not while looking in the mirror, my brain doesn't translate mirror image very well. Also maybe a larger diameter round brush might help? Mine is about 4 inches across.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:28 PM on September 30, 2015

I know a recommendation to keep hair healthy is to avoid heat-styling products, but how then are stylists able to make it so smooth and soft by blow drying? I assume it must be technique, but when I try using a hairdryer and round brush at home I can't get enough leverage to pull it tight enough or my hair get's stuck in the brush as I'm rolling it out, making it a total frizz disaster.
The Conair spin brush I linked to above is the secret to getting that salon smooth style at home. Once you've mastered the technique, it's so incredibly easy to do, and it replicates the round brush/hairdryer action that a hairdresser does. My own hairdresser couldn't believe it when he saw my hair after I'd styled it with my spin brush. He thought I'd 'cheated' on him, so I took the brush in to show him and he was very impressed with it for someone styling their hair at home.
posted by essexjan at 3:30 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to an old comment I wrote about re-styling/re-activating my hair, and my 5 day plan for getting acceptably nice looking hair.

It's now a few years on from when I wrote that, and a few things have changed for my weekly routine.

- I use Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair dry shampoo. This is the best, doesn't leave white residue, indeed doesn't make my hair feel dirty. It just seems to literally clean the hair and leave it full of volume all day. Perfect for re-working hair.

- My 2 secret weapon hair tools for quick styling are my amazing high power Japanese hair dryer (bone dry hair in under 10 minutes) and my Babyliss Miracurl for a 10 minute hair curl. The Miracurl has been a huge game changer for me. I can check my emails whilst using it, and the curls last 4 days easily for me. Curls just make my hair easier to restyle - they make a ponytail look more polished too. A GHD hair straightener will also do wonders for your hair in making it look sleek.

- Learning how to french braid my hair has been a dirty hair day game changer - nothing looks more polished than a pulled back braid. Also, learning how to do a top coiff, and also a top/back knot using a hair donut. All these are easily you-tubable, and I would say you need 4-5 goes and then you'll be fine doing them in under 10 minutes each. My hair is about the same length as yours, and I was certain I would never be able to learn them, but it was easier than I thought.
posted by shazzam! at 5:21 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have waist length, blond, straight hair. I wash it every few days, and every day brush it very thoroughly - from scalp to tips. At night I twist it up and hold it in place on top of my head with a hair clip.

My morning routine is extremely brief; I wear it in an inversed side ponytail (I do a lot of driving, so a back ponytail doesn't work, and I think pig tails are a bit too unprofessional). I tend to get a lot of complements on my style; most people think it must take a while and are shocked when I say it takes less than five minutes.

An inverted ponytail is extremely fast once you get the hang of it. Brush your hair all into a single ponytail and fasten with an elastic band about three or four inches from the scalp. From below, slide your fingers into the hair between your scalp and the elastic, dividing the hair roughly in half. Grab the hair between the elastic and the tips in that hand and pull it through. Tighten by pulling the hair outside of the elastic apart, so the elastic is pushed closer to your scalp. The hair will look like it is curving into the middle from both sides and be extremely resistant to moving.

Once the inverted ponytail is in place, you can add decoration in the form of hair clips, combs, and other frippery or leave it plain. I also sometimes get one of those netting things with a bow on top and bundle the loose ends into the net, which can also be a very formal look on the back of your head and quirky on the side. Since my hair is so fine, this is literally the only way I can get things to stay on my head, and I've played around with doing them in various places over my scalp (for example, an inverted ponytail on the top of my head, adding a pretty clip, curling the remaining ends can be a relatively simple, fancy look).
posted by Deoridhe at 6:16 PM on September 30, 2015

Pantene is not your friend. Find a parabin free shampoo and conditioner. The Trader Joes variety is fine.
posted by k8t at 6:51 PM on September 30, 2015

My hair is not like yours (thin/fine), but I have been gradually improving the blowout with tips from my stylist and trial and error.

1) use product to protect hair from heated tools- this also is often a shine booster/frizz minimiser

2) before styling use the dryer all over to get hair to damp-dry stage- that way the styling part is really more about styling and smoothing, and not about drying or overheating. Have a spray bottle for water if you have bangs or other bits that dry too much before you get to them.

3) clip hair in sections. This makes it easier for impatient people like me to style smaller sections of hair, and even more importantly not to reheat/restyle the same bits over and over.

4) Use an ionic brush to smooth the cuticle. I use a paddle brush, though I started with a round brush. The paddle gives me better control now.

5) Make sure your hair is completely dry and cool to avoid frizz after heat styling! This is really important for me or my hair immediately shifts from being smooth to kinky.

If I do a good blowout, I have good hair for at least three days without any other work. YMMV.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:52 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am not Asian but I do have thick, somewhat coarse hair that tends to frizz and wave in irregular ways when left to airdry on its own. If that's having good genes, I am grateful. I do feel like we have an advantage in having thicker hair - you can always cut things away... Anyway, when I was a poor student, I mostly tied it up and tried to ignore it. Now that I can actually afford haircuts every 8 weeks or so, I attend the salon religiously. Even if I don't know the appointment date, I can tell when it's about a week away because my hairstyle starts being a pain to do in the morning. I have finally settled on a haircut that works, but it did take a few tries before my stylist got all the details worked out. It looks like I have a simple bob, but I know there is layering going on to deal with bulk and she does a LOT of thinning all over. I always give feedback on previous cuts and over the 3-4 years I've seen this stylist, my hair has gotten better and better.

My daily routine is shampooing, then smoothing creme (like from Frizzease) thinned with smoothing serum, spread all over the ends. [I learned to do this from my stylist - the first few times I went to see her and liked the results, I bought the products from the salon that she recommended...kind of expensive but they did work well and then I could tell what sorts of products available cheaper at Target to look for]. Then I do a layered blowout - I use hair clips to pin up the top layers, so I can dry the lower hair. Then I unclip and do the top layers. I use a big round brush to pull the ends under - because my hair is coarse, it doesn't take a curl well from the brush and mostly ends up straight and sleekish from this treatment. After doing this for so long, the blowdrying takes 10-15 min and I'm ready for the day.

On preview, oneirodynia describes a lot of the practices I use in blowdrying. I can't agree with all these comments that say their hair 'lasts' for several days. I absolutely have to be able to wash my hair and look presentable after less than 30 min effort on any given day - otherwise I wouldn't be able to exercise when I want to. 10-15 minutes blowdrying is absolutely worth it to me. Hope you find the tricks you need!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:24 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

>when I try using a hairdryer and round brush at home I can't get enough leverage to pull it tight enough or my hair get's stuck in the brush as I'm rolling it out, making it a total frizz disaster.

I've struggled there too, my solutions have been a combination of:

Hot air spin brush/styler.
A paddle brush instead of a round brush. Look on youtube for paddle brush drying techniques.
A boar bristle round brush, used when the hair is semi-dry. This vid on how to blow dry hair straight with a round brush from Pixiwoo helped me alot.

Once I'd bought a few more types of brushes and grasped the concept of holding the dryer high and blowing downwards, everything started to look much sleeker.
posted by Ness at 2:10 AM on October 1, 2015

There things: hair cut, technique and product.
First you mention that your hair has damaged ends, cut it off. Hair looks sooo much better when it's healthy. Plus you can have it cut into a style that naturally falls the right way each day. Two technique, watch some you tube videos and learn how to do a blow out. Or you can buy a blow dryer with a brush attachment which will probably be easier for you any way. Since your hair is coarse you want to lay the cuticles down. You buy tons of products for this , smoothing shampoos and conditioners will help as well as light mouses and oil. Put mousse in before you dry and spritz the oil on after its styled.

As far as the bed head thing. Try the pineagle routine. Twist your hair on top of your head, put in a bun and wrap a scarf around the rest of hair before you go to bed. The bun will give your roots natural lift like a blow out and the scarf will keep your hair sleek.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 10:24 AM on October 1, 2015

I actually got this tip on AskMe, I can't find it back right now or I'd link to it. It's dead simple, no clipping sections, no wrangling a round brush, none of that shit. It has hugely improved how my hair looks. Like you, mine is thick and straight and prone to frizz and weird kinks/bends/creases. This doesn't give me the "straight from the salon" look, no, but it gives it way more bounce and smoothness and shine than when I don't do this.

1) Apply product to damp hair, or not.
2) Blow dry until it's 80% dry.
3) Stop and brush out with a paddle brush. This is the crucial step, stopping in the middle of blow drying to smooth it out. This is what gives it the more finished look.
4) Finish blow drying, comb or brush out again, arrange to your liking, apply more product. Or don't.

posted by anderjen at 10:22 AM on October 2, 2015

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