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6 Weeks of Self-Care — Week 2: BLOWOUT

This is the second post in our “6 Weeks of Self-Care” series — written by guest author Amber Daley, who is blogging about her experiences at Amethyst Salon and Opal Blow Dry Bar in the weeks ahead. Enjoy!

The second week of my six-week self-care challenge had me anxious to get back to the salon. After the previous week’s trim and balayage at Amethyst, my hair looked prettier and felt healthier than it had in years. 

The change was subtle, as Kristin intended, but friends had still noticed. (WIN!) And my new rule when it comes to anything self-care related: When people notice that thing you’re doing, keep doing that thing.

But, as is often the case after a salon visit, that first shampoo washed away the style and bounce my hair initially had post-trim. So I was eager to return to Kristin’s chair.

What is a Blowout?

For my second week of self-care, I was scheduled at Opal Blow Dry Bar for a “blowout” — which is a service that helps to maintain healthy hair between haircuts and colors. (Not to be confused with a Brazilian Blowout, which is a straightening process that coats the hair cuticle with a protective layer that smooths out frizz.) 

A blowout involves a hair wash, a scalp massage, and an expert blow-dry. The price varies among salons, but at Amethyst (the first salon in Boise to offer the treatment), a blowout costs $35. And even at such a reasonable price point, I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I had shampoo and a blow dryer at home; what could be so different about this, other than the time it took to drive to and from the salon? As it turns out, quite a lot. 

Products and Tools: Protect Your Hair Follicles

For starters, the tools and products at a stylist’s disposal are far superior than your everyday drugstore finds. A professional blow dryer (which isn’t cheap) is much gentler on hair than the standard model (especially my $14.99 Conair model, which was purchased in a frenzy after my last one started smoking and throwing sparks). Most cheap hair dryers have a simple heater that blasts the cuticle with high velocity hot air, while the professional blow dryers that stylists use generate gentle heat that is far less damaging. 

During a blowout, the stylist also uses a round brush, which increases air flow — and results in less exposure to heat and faster drying time. This particular type of brush also helps to tame frizz and adds bounce and shine.

The styling products used during a blowout are also usually superior to what most of us stock in our bathroom vanities. During my visit to Opal Blow Dry Bar, Kristin used humidity-proofing products from the Color Wow line, which are specifically intended to prevent frizz and keep color from fading. (Color Wow products were created by a celebrity stylist and have been featured on the TODAY Show.) I’m now a believer. Post-blowout, my hair was softer than it’s ever been.

Technique: Getting the Style (and Making it Last)

Since I have naturally wavy hair, fighting frizz has been a lifelong struggle. Little did I know, blow drying my hair (inevitably a wild, high-heat process that blows strands in all different directions) was only making the situation worse. As I learned from Kristin, when hair is wet, cuticles are open — and a quick, high-heat blow dry you do at home usually doesn’t fully dry the inner layers of the hair. The hottest and strongest air flow setting might seem like it’s drying hair faster, but it causes cuticles to close in different directions, which makes hair look and feel more coarse and less shiny.

On the flip side, the blowout gives a stylist more control over the entire process, and the tension of the round brush helps guide the hair into its final position. An additional advantage of a professional blow dry is that it eliminates the need for straightening — one less step and less unnecessary heat.

Contrary to what I previously believed, a professional blowout is worth every penny. Not only does it feel good to be pampered (who doesn’t need more pampering?!), I felt good afterward, too — more confident and, somehow, lighter. The day after my professional blow dry and style, Kristin’s team at Amethyst partnered with Marla June’s in Downtown Boise for a fashion show at Opal (see the looks here). And even though I was an audience member and not a model, I still felt HAWWWT.

For a treatment that seemed like a frivolous use of time, the process actually saved me precious hours during a busy week. I have long hair, and my blowout only took about 45 minutes. (This could take longer is someone has super thick or curly hair, or extensions.) And I was able to go nearly four days without washing, drying, and restyling my hair. Some are able to go five to seven days — until their next blowout, which Kristin recommends doing once a week.

(To help a blowout last, Kristin recommends applying dry shampoo before hair starts to get oily. A good time to use it is right before bedtime the day of your blowout).

The Final Word

I’m probably not a candidate for weekly blowouts, because I spend so much time mountain biking (a helmet may protect the cranium but not necessarily your hairstyle). However, it’s definitely something I’ll do again, especially in advance of an important meeting or special event. In fact, for busy months when I have frequent client meetings but little time to wash and style my hair every other day, I’m contemplating signing up for Opal’s membership program. (A membership costs $65 a month and includes two blowouts, and every one after that is $30. It also gets you 10 percent off retail products, free admission to how-to classes, and a free birthday blowout. Unused blowouts roll over to the next month.)

At the very least, I’m realizing that this is a service that is incredibly underrated and will actually extend the life of my hair after a cut, color, and style. 

Cost: $35 for all lengths (wash is included).

My review: highly recommended!

Kristin’s Tip: Turn Down the Heat

High heat from styling products can do a number on healthy hair — especially when applying multiple processes at a time (such as blow drying, straightening, then curling). Subjecting hair to excessive heat causes breakage — it’s unavoidable. But there are ways to mitigate the damage. If you can’t afford regular blowouts, try letting your hair air dry whenever possible. And, if you use a straightener or curling iron, turn down the heat and see how your hair responds to a lower temperature. People with hair that isn’t particularly coarse don’t typically need the highest setting.