A Drybar location recently opened near my home, and oh. my. god. has it made my life better.
Drybar, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a salon chain that just does blowouts. No cuts, no color — just styling. They also have a product line that I loved even before the salon rolled into town this winter.
My hair struggles are well-documented. I have a lot of it and it’s hard to make time to style it every day. A topknot is my best friend. In a perfect world, or at least if I could justify (and afford) it, I’d be at Drybar about every five days for a shampoo and style and never have to wash my own hair again.
Quality costs money, though, and a visit to Drybar will set you back $45 (more if you have extensions or add on something extra like an updo). I had the opportunity to do some hair modeling for Drybar Milwaukee in the run-up to their grand opening, and I knew after a couple of blowouts that I was hooked and would want to come back as often as I could, so I went for the Barfly membership to save a little bit of money. For $80 per month, I get two blowouts (a $90 value, and they roll over if I don’t use them), plus a discount on products and any additional visits.
At $40 a pop, obviously I want to get as much time as possible out of each blowout. Having thick hair helps me out here, because I’ve already spent years figuring out the best way to extend my dry style as long as I can, even if it’s just a home blowout, because washing and re-styling is so time consuming. (My top recommendation if you really want to get your money’s worth out of a blowout is to stop washing your hair so much in the first place. Here’s why and how.)
Whether you want to extend a salon blowout, preserve the styling on a new haircut, or just decrease the frequency of your own blow-dry sessions (where my moms at?), read on for my tips and recommended tools!
- Dry shampoo. You may have to experiment a bit to find the perfect dry shampoo for your hair. If your scalp gets a lot of oil, a powder might be best — try Aveda Shampure Dry Shampoo (you could also use just corn starch or tapioca starch, I suppose, since that’s what’s in Aveda’s powder). Then there are a ton of spray options on the market, and I’ve found them all to be about equally effective, so if I’m buying spray-on dry shampoo, anymore I tend to stick with something cheap. I’ve got Herbal Essences and Aussie Total Miracle in my medicine cabinet right now. And actually, I take that back — I got a can of Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk in a Fab Fit Fun box last year, and I really loved it.
My scalp gets super dry, and the best dry shampoo I’ve found for me — and the one I’ve been using pretty much exclusively lately — is Drybar Detox Whipped Dry Shampoo Foam. It dispenses and applies like a mousse and it doesn’t dry out my hair or leave deposits of powder on my scalp.
- Dry conditioner. This is a thing? you may be asking, and YES, it is and it’s magic. Check out Drybar Detox Dry Conditioner Spray (I like the Lush scent, personally). Drybar’s is the only dry conditioner I can vouch for personally, although there are apparently others out there.
A caveat: Aveda sells a dry conditioner in their Shampure line, and in my experience, it doesn’t work anything like the Drybar dry conditioner. I use it as a heat protectant after I wash my hair, and it’s perfectly fine for that, but I don’t use it to extend blowouts.
- Shine/finishing product. I’ve already declared my love for OSiS+ Magic. I also like Aveda Light Elements Smoothing Fluid and Drybar Sparkling Soda.
Julep used to make an amazing product called Top Coat For Hair that was the perfect spray-on shine product, but they’ve discontinued it, along with their five-star glycolic hand scrub. Nothing perfect can last.
- Wide-tooth comb. When I have curls or texture in my hair, I try to disturb my style as little as possible each day to try to keep the shape my stylist gave it. Used gently, a wide-tooth comb gets out any tangles without breaking up my curls. There are a million options out there, like these from Sephora, Sally Beauty, and The Body Shop.
- Non-pinching clips and hair ties. To clip my hair out of my face while I wash it or apply makeup, and to clip it up while I refresh my style, I use these curler clips from Sally Beauty. They don’t pinch or flatten my hair.
If you do need or want to pull your hair back in a ponytail, stay away from regular elastics that will leave a dent. I like the Swirlydo ties you can buy at ABC Stores in Hawaii (also good for not getting tangled in your hair at the beach). Sephora carries something similar, Invisibobble.
- Hair bonnet or satin pillowcase. This is optional, but it does help if you really want to preserve curls or other structured elements of a hairstyle. Sleep is the time that’s roughest on your hair, and your cotton or jersey pillowcase is a big part of the problem. Essence explains why (and suggests some solutions).
My daily objective when I’m trying to refresh a blowout (without wrecking the style) can be summed up in three words: Assess, Address, Finesse.
Step 1: Assess
The first thing I want to do is check out the state of my hair and decide what’s needed. On Day 2, it’s usually not much. On Day 5, it’s a different state of affairs. Remember that the goal is to disturb the hair as little as possible, so the question I ask every morning is: What’s the least amount of intervention I can get away with here?
Step 2: Address
The two critical things you want to address in your morning routine are pretty straightforward: detangling and oil control. The trick is to detangle without wrecking any curls or other texture you might have. (If your hair is simply straightened, this is a bit easier because you can just brush it and go on to the next step.) I start by clipping up the top third of my hair and giving the roots a little spray of Drybar Triple Sec to keep the volume up. (This optional step puts more product in your hair, so it can cut a little time off the life of your blowout — something to keep in mind if you do it.) Then I spray the bottom two-thirds of my hair with dry conditioner from mid-shaft to the ends and gently work out any tangles with my fingers or a wide-tooth comb. Once the bottom is detangled, I let down the top third and repeat.
Starting on Day 3 or 4, if my scalp needs it, I will also apply dry shampoo. I try to use the smallest amount possible each day and limit it to the spots on my scalp that really need it to minimize buildup (another reason the Drybar mousse is so great — it doesn’t build up like other dry shampoos I’ve used).
Step 3: Finesse
Once my hair is degreased, volumized and detangled, it’s time to put the finishing touches on my style. Some styles are easier than others to keep looking sharp. I’ve found the Cosmo, Old Fashioned and Southern Comfort sort of evolve and soften as the days go by — the curls loosen, but the style still looks polished. The style I tried most recently, the Dirty Martini, is a strong contender with Southern Comfort for my favorite style, but I did find its tousled curls a little challenging to touch up. I had to get out the hot tools to put some of the messy-cute back into my hair. When I have my hair straightened, I almost always have to fire up the flatiron to touch up the bottom layer.
I finish with a shine product — again, using as little as I can to add shine and control flyaways without gunking up my hair with too much product. Restraint is key.
When you go to the salon, before you get your hair done, talk to your stylist about what kind of upkeep you want to do at home and ask them to style accordingly. Ask them to show you how they’re curling or adding texture so you can freshen it up as necessary. They want you to have a good experience with your hair so you’ll come back again and again, so let them help you leave the salon armed with the ability to keep your hair looking great!
After my last visit to Drybar, I shared daily updates in my Instagram stories showing how I cared for my hair each day. If you missed them on IG, here’s the video version: