How to do a salon-worthy blow-dry

How to do a salon-worthy blow-dry

Getting a glamorous, professional-looking blow-dry takes practice. But Australian Hairdresser of the Year Caterina DiBiase is willing to share the tricks of her trade to help hone your skills…  

Tools of the trade

About brushes

Reigning Australian Hairdresser of the Year Caterina DiBiase suggests you start by assembling a line of all the brushes you’ll need. “To get a sleek look with body, you’ll need a large round brush. Ceramic ones [which better distribute heat] are great for thick and curly hair – they make the job a lot easier and don’t stretch the hair while it’s wet, which protects against breakage,” she directs.

“A paddle brush is best for giving long hair a smooth and straight result. Shorter hair should go for a round brush with a smaller diameter. These smaller brushes are also handy for giving curly or layered hair precise definition and should also be used on fringes.”


Mason Pearson natural-bristle brushes, from $109 for a pocket version
Hairdressers’ choice
David Jones Ceramic Round Brush with Boar Bristles, $29.95
Lady Jayne Paddle Brush, $19.95  

On dryers

“A good quality hairdryer is a great investment,” emphasises DiBiase. “Go for a powerful model with adjustable settings that let you control temperature. Also look for one with a detachable nozzle, which focuses the air to give you control. A diffuser, which gently dries without creating frizz, is a must for curly hair.”


Parlux 3000 Ionic Dryer, $159.95
Hairdressers’ choice
Sunbeam Headlines 1800W Dryer with Diffuser, $39.95

VS Sassoon Ultimate High Torque 2000, $69.95 
Read reviews

Product prep

Fine & flat hair

“Fine hair usually wants body, so a volumiser is a must,” says DiBiase. “If the hair is very flat on top, I use a mousse to give roots a little lift – it stops the hairstyle collapsing so soon.

“But fine hair can benefit from not being fiddled with too much in the preparation stage,” she warns.


L’Oreal Professionnel Volume Architect, $21.95
Tresemme Volume & Lift Mousse, $7.95

Short styles

“Light nourishing creams give you a sleek result, or you can use edgy waxes and fibre-based creams for texture and movement,” explains DiBiase. “Short hair lends itself to a less ‘neat’ finish, which spray waxes are great for – spray them into your hands and then apply every which way for a punk, boho or foho look.”


Redken Satinwear 02 – Ultimate Blow-Dry Lotion, $26
RPR Hair Care My Max Wax, $17.95
L’Oreal Professionnel A.Head Sprax, $24.45

Curly locks

“Curls look best when they are shiny, springy and in good condition,” highlights DiBiase. “Fine curls need a weightless cream to protect and enhance their shape; coarse, thick curls need taming and will drink in all the moisture you can deliver. I add nourishing lotions and creams by the handful to a head of thick curls.”


PPS Hairwear D Fine Blow it Out Lotion, 19.95

Goldwell Care Curl Definition Revive Cream Intense, $18.50


Where to begin

“It’s best to start with towel-dried hair,” instructs DiBiase. “Absorb the extra moisture from your hair by patting and squeezing gently – agitation will cause frizzing and matting. If you have a lot of hair, a gentle ‘blast’ with your dryer can help, but don’t ever do this with curly hair!

“Apply pre-blow-dry products gently and work them right throughout your hair.” However, if you’re prone to an oily scalp, apply smoothers to only the mid-lengths and ends.

Starting to style

“The important thing when blow-drying is to work in a system,” DiBiase explains. “Section your hair into small, even pieces and work from the bottom layers [near the nape of your neck], up to the top, doing your fringe area last.”


Dateline Nylon Sectioning Clips, 95c each

Temperature & control

The hotter the temperature of your hairdryer, the more intense the effect will be. “However, to minimise heat-styling damage, if you have fine or weak hair, a medium temperature setting will work just as well,” says DiBiase.

When working the dryer, the style you’re shooting for should direct your aim. “If you want a sleek finish, point your dryer down the shaft of your hair. This will close and smooth the cuticle, giving you a flatter result,” she explains.

“If you’re after a fuller, bouncier effect, dry  each section of hair from beneath, brushing upward and following the brush with your dryer. Toss your head forward and dry from all directions for a less structured finish.”

Finishing touches

“Ask your hairdresser which would be the perfect finishing product for your hair type and the style you want. This recommendation is the difference between an okay result and a stunning one that lasts,” says DiBiase. Once you’ve got your ideal styler, the secret is applying it slowly. DiBiase warns: “Don’t over-apply your product! In the salon we use ‘peas’ or ten cent coin-sized dollops. Start with one ‘pea’ of product and warm lotions or serums in your hands as they are designed to
work at body temperature.”

“Also, apply product from the back to the front of your hair so there is less on your hands by the time you reach the upper, front layers where there is less hair,” she says.

Related articles:

Hairbrushes 101: Different types of brushes and how to use them like an expert

– Tracey Withers

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