by Shelli of Hairscapades
I was a busy little bee this weekend, hitting three different stores (one twice), in order to get the items I needed for my impending blow-out. I made the appointment for my Afro puffy twists for this week and I was finally faced with the fact that I needed to make some decisions about my hair prep. I read CurlyNikki’s post on Flat Ironing Tips and recognized the importance of the right products, good techniques and the proper tools. I’d been ruminating over what heat protectant to use and whether I would use a blow dryer, use a comb attachment, try the tension method, braid, twist or attempt a roller set to stretch … decisions, decisions! The initial plan was to use the ElastaQP Silk Design Silk Thermal Styling Spray I already have under the sink and the Ion blow dryer and a comb attachment that I haven’t used since President Obama was inaugurated three years ago! However, as I thought about it and how I’m so much more aware of the potential for heat damage and have so many resources at my fingertips, I realized that I could do better.
So, I proceeded to do some research while standing in Harmon in front of 4 shelves full of hair dryers (I know you shouldn’t love an inanimate object. I know this. But, I love my iPhone). I googled my Ion blow dryer because I had no memory of whether it was tourmaline or ceramic or ionic (Ion … yeah, probably that last one) or some combination thereof. Well, in my search, I came across this very informative (though somewhat discouraging) article on the “benefits” of “hi-tech” hair dryers:
via Consumer Search:
via Consumer Search:
Today’s blowers offer a bounty of options, all promising softer, shiner, healthier hair. It’s hard to find a hair dryer without the words “ceramic,” “ionic” or “tourmaline” in the name, but critics are unsure whether these features actually make for a better dryer or not.
Ionic hair dryers emit molecules with a positive or negative charge to dry hair. Instead of taking the air from a room and heating it like old-school hair dryers, ionic products use negative ions to shrink water droplets in the hair. Manufacturers say this helps wet hair dry faster with less heat damage — making for a smoother and shinier mane. Unfortunately, the science behind the claims is sketchy. There’s “little science to either prove or disprove this claim,” says Bill Nazaroff, professor of environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, in a Wall Street Journal article.
The article goes on to say that though manufacturers tout that dryers using ceramic, ionic or tourmaline technologies result in speedier drying times, shinier hair and less heat damage, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support these claims. Regardless, and helpfully, the article didn’t discount these features entirely. Rather, additional research was conducted based upon professional and consumer reviews found via various sources. This information was used to compile a list of the Best Hair Dryers with these “high tech features” and ranked them from the most economical choices to the more expensive:
- Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Ionic hair dryer (Approx. $20)
- Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X (Approx. $35)
- Conair Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 213X (Approx. $35)
- T3 Tourmaline Professional Featherweight(Approx. $175)
- Featherweight Luxe (Approx. $250)
- CHI Rocket Professional (Approx. $135)
- CHI Nano Dual Air Flow Ceramic (Approx. $140)
- Elchim 2001 Professional(Approx. $120)
- Sedu Ultrapower Professional (Approx. $150)
The awesome, but horrible thing? Almost every single one of these dryers was on the shelves at Harmon!! LOL! Ultimately, I decided on #2 as it was very reasonably priced, apparently effective and I liked the style. Consumer Search had this to say about it:
The … Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X has been named an InStyle Magazine Best Beauty Buy three years in a row (though we aren’t sure what criteria are used in awarding that status). It offers some of the same features found in many higher-priced blow dryers. It includes three heat settings and two speed settings as well as a cool-shot button; a soft finger diffuser, which allows you to get closer to the scalp for better hair-sculpting control; and a concentrator attachment, which is designed to direct airflow for styling purposes. The Conair 223X also has a removable filter to prevent lint build-up and comes with a three-year limited warranty.
The reason that I was at one store twice? I ran home to get about four 20% off coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond (you can use these at Harmon!!) and one $5 coupon for Harmon as I was having a PJ moment and picked up several hair and make-up items too (you can thank ShamIAmGlam for fanning the make-up PJ flames;).
Ultimately, I only paid $28 (plus tax) for the dryer. Score!! I also picked up the “ionic” comb as I needed a medium-tooth comb for detangling. So, what was next? Research on a good heat protectant. Again, I was initially planning on using the ElastaQP Thermal Design Spray that I already owned and some grapeseed oil, which some tout as a natural heat protectant because it can sustain heat up to 420°. Then, I thought about someone who regularly rocked gorgeous straight hair during the winter. MopTopMaven!! I remember reading several posts from her last year and commenced to searching. I came across four really good articles that she did on straightening hair and one that was specific to blow drying natural hair.
- Going Straight for Winter
- 6 Techniques for Easy Breezy Blow Drying
- How to Prevent/Recover from Heat Damage
- Help My Pressed Hair Never Stays Straight
Back to the product search. Also in MopTopMaven’s straight hair product line-up were Fermodyl 619 (leave-in) and Sebastian Potion #9 (leave-in/styler). I decided to hit Sally’s as I knew that they had a GVP version of Potion #9 and thought that I’d seen the Fermodyl there before as well. Sure enough, I hit the mother-load here too and picked up both items.
So now, I feel that I am thoroughly prepared with both products, techniques and tools. My blow-out regimen will be as follows:
- Cleanse thoroughly with a diluted sulfate shampoo (clarify).
- Apply ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor (strengthen).
- Deep condition with cool & seal technique (moisture).
- Thoroughly rinse with cool/cold water.
- Section hair into 6 sections (2 in back and 1 in front on each side).
- Apply Roux Fermodyl 619 to each section using spray bottle (porosity corrector/detangler/leave-in).
- Apply small amount of GVP Potion #9 to each section (moisture and wearable treatment/styler).
- Apply Aveda Brilliant Damage Control to each section (heat protection).
- For each of prior 3 steps, comb hair with fingers, then wide tooth comb, then medium tooth comb (detangling).
- Comb through each section with fine-tooth comb and set hair in 6 twists total.
- Secure roots with large doobie pins and roll ends on medium/large purple flexi-rods.
- Use tension method to blow dry hair to stretched state.
And that’s that. It was a lot of research and store hopping, but I feel a lot more confident that I can do this without causing appreciable heat or manipulation damage. I’ll keep you all apprised of the final results and will have those product reviews for you too! Go team natural!
Check out my results, HERE.
How do you protect your hair during heat styling? What products, techniques and tools do you use?
I too enjoy the luxuriousness of the occasional blow-out. I own an Andi's comb-shaped dryer which claims to be ionic, ceramic and things of that nature. It only set me back 20 bucks, like 3 years ago. I love the fact that it's easy to handle and that you don't need to be coordinated enough to hold a brush in one hand and juggle a dryer in the other. Plus it's a more natural, fluid movement since it's shaped like a big 'ole comb. I also appreciate that it comes with different size comb attachments, some with closer teeth, and as long as I detangle my hair prior, I don't feel like it's violating my fine strands. It dries my hair fast, even on medium speed & heat which is great 'cause that allows for less heat exposure which of course means less potential for damage. BUT it leaves me crispity-crackily... like 'fire hazard haystack' dry, no matter the prep products I use. My hair only begins to feel supple again after I use a moisturizing setting conditioner for the ensuing dry twist-out. Sometimes, I'd remove the comb attachment and tension dry for less manipulation, but the heat still left my hair super frizzy and dry, cuticle all roughed up... like, my ends felt nasty even when they weren't.
I also own a fancy-ass HanaAir. Gifted 2 years ago, but I took it out of the box this spring. It's a great dryer, but here's the thing-- that joint will set you back one hundred and ninety got damn dollars. And like the price, the results are starkly different as well. Even when tension drying, I get silky smooth... like 'tell me my hair ain't luxurious when you know it is b*tch' soft. I like how quickly it dries my hair (although no faster than the Andi's) and how smooth it leaves my strands no matter the products (or just serum) I use prior. I remember when Tracee Ellis Ross told me that she was surprised that some of her ceramic and ionic tools actually left her with healthier hair... the HanaAir makes that claim as well. *raises eyebrow* I can't take it there, but I can tell you that it definitely feels as if it's doing less harm than my cheaper one... it leaves my cuticle smooth. Much appreciated. One time, over the summer, I blew out one side with the Andi's and the other with the Hana... same products, same comb attachment (I rigged the Hana!), just to see if I noticed a difference on the spot and it was NUTS. This may be a case of, 'you get what you pay for', but I doubt you need to spend 200 bucks. Maybe the 40-60 dollar ionic/ceramic dryer would yield similar results? Anyway, peep the Hana results, HERE. Note in that article, I wasn't even prepared to discuss the super expensive dryer yet, lol!
So yeah, not condoning the purchase of a $200 dryer, but like Shelli said, do your own research. 'Cause despite the inconclusive nature of the 'ceramic/ionic/fancy technology dryer' studies, I can tell you that I can see and feel a significant difference in my hair and that it also may be worth going up a tier in quality.