11 Blow-Dry Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Style

Updated: Jul. 09, 2024

Think you blow-dry like a pro? Many common mistakes you don't even realize you're making can wreak havoc on your hair health and style. Here, the pro-approved fixes for your most common strand snafus.


Mistake #1: Blow-drying hair when it’s sopping wet

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you should start drying your hair when it’s fresh out of the shower. But in reality, your hair is most prone to damage when wet. And the longer heat is applied, the more damage it causes, so your goal is to minimize the amount of heat exposure. Hair should be 50 to 60 percent dry before you start blow-drying. “Get as much moisture out as you can with a towel, and let your hair air-dry for a 10 to 15 minutes after you towel-dry,” advises Becca Sible, educator for amika. Brush up on the other common hair myths you should stop believing.


Mistake #2: Towel-drying incorrectly

A common mistake—and a major cause of frizz—is wrapping hair up in a turban or rough drying it with a towel. Aggressively rubbing the towel over your hair can also cause damage. According to Stefani Padilla, founder of La Tierra Sagrada Hair, the proper method is to gently press the towel onto the hair to soak up excess water. Did you know damage can start in the shower? These shower mistakes might be harming your hair.

via loveamika.com, shutterstock

Mistake #3: Skipping product

Prepping hair is key. Beyond just protecting strands from heat and tension damage, hair products help you achieve the desired look and enhance the performance of your dryer. Before you begin blow-drying, be sure to use a multi-benefit primer to help prep and protect your strands against damage caused by heat styling. For fine or thin tresses, look for a lightweight formula that also adds body and bounce, like amika Bombshell Blowout Spray or Keranique Lift & Repair Treatment Spray. For color-treated hair, Chi Total Protect protects against heat styling and color-fading. For thick strands that a need little help in the manageability department, Fekkai Blow Out Primer is a great option. Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Anti-Breakage and Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum is excellent for coarse, frizz-prone hair. Wondering what other products should be in your arsenal? These are the drugstore formulas stylists swear by.


Mistake #4: Using too much product

It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. “Using too much product is a big no-no,” says Jennifer Lawrence, senior stylist at Julien Farel Restore Salon. Excess product will weigh down the hair and cause it to overproduce oil. Depending on the thickness of your hair, you should use anywhere from a dime- to a quarter-size amount of product. Fine, thin strands should get a dime-size dose, and scale up from there.

Pro Beauty via Target.com, shutterstock

Mistake #5: Using the wrong hair dryer

“Many of my clients ask if it matters what kind of dryer they use. The answer is yes,” says Padilla. A good hair dryer makes all the difference when it comes to styling. Depending on the quality of your dryer, you may be causing more damage than you’re aware of. Investing in a good drying tool not only preserves the health of your hair, but also cuts down on drying time and creates a better result—and you don’t have to spend a fortune either. “Look for a dryer that offers multiple heat settings and ionic technology, like Pro Beauty Tools 1875W Ionic AC Motor Dryer,” says Johnny Lavoy, PRO Beauty Tools Celebrity Hairstylist. These are the essential tips for people who use heat on their hair every day.


Mistake #6: Not rough-drying your hair

Make sure to rough-dry your hair before you start round brushing. Rough-drying means lightly giving your hair an all-over drying with the hair dryer before you get down to heat styling it in sections. Finer strands should be rough-dried at least 80 percent, and coarse hair about 50 percent. “This will maximize your time and reduce breakage,” says Sible. Wondering how to repair damaged strands? Don’t miss these health-boosting tips and tricks.


Mistake #7: Not sectioning strands

If you’re drying your hair all at once (after your rough-dry), you’re doing it wrong. “Flipping your head over, or just aiming the blow-dryer at the top layer of your hair can lead to over-drying and even damage,” says Lavoy. “Sectioning is so important, though it’s the number one thing people tend to skip over. It seems like it’s an extra step, but in the long run, sectioning makes the whole drying process easier, it helps speed things up and gives you the professional blowout you want,” says Padilla. Divide the hair into small sections (no wider than your barrel brush). Start sectioning at the nape of your neck and move upward. “The front section will be the most visible, so spend time mastering this segment,” Sible says.


Mistake #8: Blow-drying hair in the wrong direction

The roots take longer to dry than the ends. Since you don’t want to use any more heat on the hair than is necessary, it’s important to focus on the roots before you move to the ends, so you don’t trigger overworked locks, split ends, and breakage. “Maximize volume by over-directing in the root area, and blow-dry hair against its natural fall,” says Sible. (That means raise the sections of hair and blast heat up toward the ends, so you’ll get lift and bounce.) You definitely don’t want pull the hair straight down, as this will result in limp, flat hair. Create tension with the round brush as you travel down the hair, and move to the mid shaft, always passing over the top. As you continue working downward toward the tips, keep the airflow with the direction of the hair and round the ends till you have a smooth, dry section.

Pro Beauty via Target.com, shutterstock

Mistake #9: Using the wrong brush

Brushes are an essential styling tool and are key to creating your desired look. Round, ceramic brushes use tension and control for shiny, frizz-free results. Remember, size matters! For bounce and body, use a larger barrel. For a curlier look, a smaller round brush is going to be better. “Also, throw away the metal brushes, which heat up way too much and can burn the hair,” cautions Sible. Lavoy personally recommends the PRO Beauty Tools Ionic Ceramic Thermal Brushes. “They come with an extra-long barrel, which helps dry larger sections faster,” he says. Other pro picks include: ghd Ceramic Vented Radial Brush #3 and Drybar Double Pint Large Round Ceramic Brush. These are the 16 secrets your hairbrush wishes you knew.


Mistake #10: Not using the nozzle

Blow-dryers come with attachments for a reason, though we don’t all take advantage of them. “The nozzle is what helps to create that smooth, shiny appearance we all desire in a blowout,” Padilla says. “Similarly, a diffuser is great for enhancing curls and also protects hair from heat, which is what causes frizz.” What’s more, if you’re using a blow-dryer without an attachment, it can damage the cuticle and harm the texture of your hair.


Mistake #11: Using the wrong temperature setting

Blow-dryers come with multiple settings—who knew, right? And not all work for all hair types. “Thicker hair can take a higher temperature, but anyone with fine hair should be using a lower heat setting,” says Lavoy. And don’t neglect the cool setting. “I always use the cool setting to finish the blow dry. This closes the cuticle, enhances shine, and helps set the hair for a longer-lasting style,” Padilla says. Try these tricks to make your blowout last for days.