As humans, we tend to err on the side of wanting what we don’t have...those with thick hair sometimes find it cumbersome, heavy and hot, leading them to dream of a thinner, more manageable mane - while those of us with fine or fewer strands think those people are straight-up crazy. But fine or thin hair doesn’t have to be a bad thing...it’s nice and light, cooler in the summer, and can be styled in a variety of ways!
The key to styling any hair type? Good products. Oh, and choosing the right tools...that’s equally important! Which is why we’ve put together a guide to common styling tools for you, laying out which methods, features and functions are your must-haves - and which options to skip.
ALL BLOW DRYERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
For many of us, the blowdryer is the base of our styling routine. It does so much all at once...takes hair from wet to dry, smooths, shapes, styles, and sets. For some, a hairdryer is a hairdryer...pick a color, and that’s that. BUT, in reality, selecting the right dryer for you is a much more specific process!
The feature we most highly recommend - our absolute must-have functionality - is independent heat and airflow settings.
The average dryer offers only 1 selector: Low heat/airflow, Medium heat/airflow, or High heat/airflow. As fine or thin locks are more susceptible to heat damage, high heat is never recommended; however, when the heat and airflow settings are intertwined, committing to the “Low” or “Medium” settings will likely significantly increase your drying time - and let’s face it, nobody’s got time for that!
Investing in a dryer that offers the option to set a higher airflow at a lower temperature will help you make the most of your styling time, and ensure that your locks stay healthy and intact. And ALWAYS make sure you’re buying a dryer that has a “Cool” button, as a shot of cool air at the end of a styling sesh is an easy way to help lock in volume and shine.
Another helpful hint? Choosing a unit with a powerful motor will ensure that the air output exceeds the heat output - which means less direct heat and a longer dryer life. (After all, quality tools don’t tend to come cheap - so the longer they last, the better!) Aim for a dryer with a wattage of 1800-2000 for best results.
The other crucial factor when selecting the dryer of your dreams is the TYPE of dryer you buy.
Ceramic, titanium, tourmaline, ionic...what does any of that even mean?! Having a good understanding of how each type works and what that functionality means for your style’s bottom line is the best way to know which tool is ideal for you!
Here’s a quick run-down of the common options:
Ceramic: Ceramic tools distribute heat as evenly as possible, and more gently than other types; gentle, even heating means less direct, unregulated heat on strands - which in turn reduces damage. Ceramic tools aim to provide a shiny, smooth finish and reduce frizz, all in all making it a satisfactory tool type for those with fine/thin/thinning/fragile/damaged locks.
Titanium: About 40% lighter than ceramic, Titanium has hit the market as a time-friendly technology that dries hair more quickly than other methods. While providing a steady temperature, Titanium heats the hair faster; while this is a time-saver, it can also cause more damage. We recommend Titanium for hair that is thicker/coarser - as it provides a silky-smooth finish and phenomenal frizz control - however do not recommend for fine, thin, thinning, or fragile locks.
Tourmaline: These dryers emit infrared (think: even like ceramic without the weight) heat and negative ions for a shinier style with less frizz, a combination that allows the hair to endure higher temperatures without the damage other types of high heat may cause. Overall, Tourmaline is a fantastic option for those with fragile strands.
Ionic: Ionic dryers work by transferring negative ions to the hair - which attracts the positive ions in water, ultimately allowing hair to dry more quickly and helping to seal the cuticle to retain more moisture within each strand. This type of tool is generally best for those with fine/thinning locks that tend to be on the dry side; just be cautious with temperature, as heat from this type of dryer can be more damaging at high settings.
No matter WHAT dryer you leave the store with, NEVER heat style your hair without first applying a thermal protectant! These wonders of modern hair artistry not only make the volume and finish you desire easier to achieve, they provide vital protection for strands from the damage intense heat exposure can cause.
ENDLESS OPTIONS: STRAIGHTENERS, WAVERS, & CURLERS GALORE
So, your hair is dry...and yet, still somehow very much in need of styling. Maybe you want to eliminate the waves that make your hair look unpolished, turn the ends “under” instead of “over”, or create a romantically voluminous curl for date night.
Well, there’s a tool for all of that! But, just like selecting a dryer, there are many different options - and choosing wisely is the best way to make the style in your head a reality while protecting the health and integrity of your hair.
It goes without saying that knowing what you’re looking to create will ultimately guide your tool selection. A bigger curling iron for a beachy wave, vs. a smaller wand for curls reminiscent of Shirley Temple’s...a waving iron with bigger barrels or deeper valleys for a more relaxed finish, vs. smaller alternations for a more funky, crimped feel. Once you’ve narrowed down the type of tool that you’re looking for, it’s time to turn your attention to the details in selecting the one that’s truly right for you.
First and foremost: temperature settings! Gone are the days of hot tools having only an “ON/OFF” button; heck, even “Low, Medium, High” switches are rapidly becoming a thing of the past thanks to newer digital and dial-based technologies that allow for a wider range of options and incomparable customization possibilities.
If you’re a novice with hot styling tools, a 3-setting option may be best for you -- just keep in mind that “Low” is for fragile/damaged hair, “Medium” is for fine/thin hair, and “High” should only be used on thick/coarse locks. However, if you’re more experienced, a digital model or one with a temperature dial may be the better option, as they’re more customizable and allow for smaller temperature adjustments. Not getting a good, solid curl? Turn it up a few degrees. Hair getting too hot, too fast? Turn it down a notch or two!
An easy way to know where to start with fully adjustable temps? Simply look at the range the tool provides, and stay within the Low, Mid, or High range according to your hair type. For instance, say a curling iron goes from 250 to 400 degrees...250-300 would be the ideal temp for fragile or damaged strands, 300-350 would be ideal for fine locks, and 350-400 would be reserved for thick/coarse hair. It’s that simple!
As with dryers, there are different tool finishes (IE: ceramic, tourmaline, etc.) that lend different benefits (faster heating, better moisture retention, shinier finish), so it’s important to know what you’re looking to achieve before you hit the store. And - not to sound like a broken record - but don’t skip the heat protectant!
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