The blow-out blew up this season, but is it worth the effort?
Every trend has a saturation point. In the hair world, there are few trends that have run the gamut from runway to reality more comprehensively than the insouciant cascade of zero-effort hair. Season after season, show after show, we were served up effortless strands that hero-ed natural texture – the appearance of having done little at all (even if that wasn’t always the case) was modern and cool. It was, however, only a matter of time before the pendulum swung and turned the trend on its head. This season it came in a big way. Across all major cities the definitive mood seemed to say: it’s high time for the blow-dry.
“The blow-dry is back,” said hairstylist Anthony Turner to reporters backstage at the autumn/winter collections in New York. Hairstylists who previously subscribed to the tousled, just-skipped-out-of-bed movement seemed to be changing course. Hot air was blowing backstage at Moschino too, where models sported Stepford-wife ’dos with doses of volume at the roots and a 60s flick at the ends. Even at shows such as Stella McCartney and Lanvin, where lived-in #wokeuplikethis texture has reigned supreme for countless seasons, there was a glossy, bordering on blown-out, finish to the models’ locks. And at Alberta Ferretti and Ralph Lauren, the blow-dry wasn’t towering high and sprayed stiff, but had the natural movement and sheen of hair that’s looked after.
And that’s the thing about the humble blow-dry this season: it shouldn’t signal you’ve have spent hours preening and primping, precisely because you haven’t. Sydney-based stylist and Dyson Supersonic ambassador Renya Xydis says the best blow-out – one that’s ultra-bouncy – requires a specific yet easy-to-master technique. “Instead of just going one way, you have to direct your hair. You’ve got to pull your roots out, and that’s what a lot of people aren’t doing: they’re
pulling the ends and it’s damaging it. They don’t realise that you have to really stretch your roots, and doing that is key,” she says. “I start at the front, because the minute you know that your front looks good, you feel good, right?”
It’s the nuances of this new interpretation of the blow-dry that make it utterly modern, and it starts with how you pair it. “It’s about bringing back the blow-dries, and about fashion as well,” says Xydis, who tends to the perennially impeccable manes of Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman. “Everyone is really into these amazing jackets now and these big, quite powerful suits, so women are really going for that big glam blow-dry.” Partial to sneakers? The blow-dry is your newest accessory, elevating an otherwise casual outfit to stylish proportions by delivering the right amount of polish to tip the scale from pared back to put-together.
Equally, how you finish off a blow-dry is paramount. On a scale of Texan beauty pageant ’do to French-girl strands, a blow-dry in 2018 is styled with an element of abandonment. Spritz a fresh blow-out with dry shampoo to infuse a dose of grit and counteract the squeaky clean finish. “The minute you blow-dry your hair, you press the button to go cold and straight away it cools it down and holds better,” says Xydis, who swears by the nifty cool-shot button on the Dyson Supersonic.
While heat-styling devices have historically been blasted for frying ends to the point of breakage, the latest additions to the arsenal of dryers and tongs have hair health at the forefront. The launch of the Dyson’s first hairdryer a few years ago, the Supersonic, changed the heat-styling landscape precisely because it was designed with one thing in mind: hair health. Living up to its name as the gold standard in hair dryers, the brand’s latest limited-edition styler is gilded in 23-karat gold leaf while still delivering impeccable substance: clever heat control, powerful airflow and ergonomic design.
Ghd chief technology officer Dr Tim Moore attests that heat styling may even be better for your hair than simply air-drying. When hair is wet, he says, it becomes weak (around half the strength of dry hair) and porous, putting undue pressure on the core of each strand, which can lead to breakage. “When you brush your wet hair to style it before you leave your house, you then cause more breakage than you would do otherwise,” he says. “If you use a hair-dryer in the proper way – by starting with a low setting – the water on the surface acts a bit like sweat, in that it then cools the actual fibres of the hair. The temperature of wet hair with a hair-dryer pointing at it is a slight increase to the initial temperature and it stays there for two minutes … so as long as you don’t move on to another section of hair the moment you start to feel your hair increasing in temperature, then you just won’t damage the hair at all.”
With heat damage front of mind, Moore’s team have been working on a ‘smart’ straightener, the Ghd Platinum+, which uniquely recognises the thickness and section size of the hair being put through the device and dials the heat up or down accordingly. Efficient.
In-salon too, blow-outs have ballooned. The newly opened salon Paloma, in Sydney’s Paddington, offers a dedicated dry bar. Catering to the girl-on-the-go, there’s a quick-pick menu of blow-outs from Smooth & Straight to Perfectly Imperfect styles that take just 20 minutes from wet to dry, dispelling the notion that a blow-dry is a time-consuming endeavour. “Women who wouldn’t usually come in for a blowdry between a cut or colour appointment are now coming in for a dry bar service every week, because it’s quick, accessible and affordable,” says the salon’s owner, Paloma Rose Garcia, who, despite heralding a wash-and-wear movement among the fashion set, admits there is room for a more sophisticated finish.
Clean, polished hair will “never go out of fashion”, she says. “The same goes for a messy, tousled style. There is a time and a place for both.” And that’s the real beauty of today’s easy-breezy blow-dry: you can take it or leave it.
“EVERYONE IS REALLY INTO THESE BIG, QUITE POWERFUL SUITS … AND THAT REALLY BIG GLAM BLOW-DRY”