Tip #1. Blowdry! Blowdry! Blowdry!
When we shampoo our hair, we usually massage the hair to help loosen debris. If you can imagine that the outside layer (cuticle layer) of our hair strands are like the scales of a fish microscopically, you can also imagine that this friction will cause the scales to stand up. Conditioner (which should be used daily by all hair types) is pH balanced to lay the scales back down, and a cool rinse helps seal the cuticle layer. Even though we have done all this with the proper products (I recommend Redken products) when we allow our hair to dry naturally, not only does it take an eternity in some cases, but our hair becomes subject to the atmosphere in which we live as it dries.
On the other hand, if you BLOWDRY your hair immediately out of the shower(after towel drying, but not spending long periods of time wrapped in a towel) you will find that the products, coupled with the heat of the blow-dryer, will further lay the cuticle layer down, enhancing shine, while keeping that ultra-slick, super smooth style all day. The heat also makes the hair soft and pliable; taking the bulk out of hair that is coarse or curly.
Be sure to start blow-drying with your head upside down working from the scalp at the nape to the ends. The air will bounce off the scalp and dry the ends, but it will not bounce off the ends and dry the scalp. I love to use a large square paddle brush with ball-tipped bristles vs boar's hair or other fine bristled brushes to help break up the wet hair as the air is blowing through it. When the dry hair encounters the wet hair, it will stop the brush, so lift the brush back out of the hair while continuing to blow-dry. As the hair becomes completely dry the brush will glide smoothly through. This is how you know it is completely dry. If you miss a spot or get in a hurry and choose not to completely dry the hair, the evaporating water can increase the humidity in your hair to such a level that your style may not last, so be sure to dry it completely. At this point, some of you may feel like you have a monster on your hands but trust me and keep going!
Tip #2. Don't be afraid of styling tools.
Yes, if you go over and over the same section of hair with a hot flat iron or curling iron, it can and will damage the hair. Instead, pull a section of hair out of the lowest point at the back of your head, clip the rest up and out of the way, taking smaller sections for thicker or coarser hair and larger sections for finer straighter hair, lean to one side and bring that hair around the shoulder allowing gravity to let it hang. USE A HARD RUBBER COMB instead of your hands to comb and clamp pulling the clamped flat iron through the section from the scalp to the ends. SLOWLY comb and clamp, comb and clamp, comb and clamp, about two or three times. Even if the hair has not reached the desired result, swing the hair over to the other side and repeat TWO OR THREE TIMES, SLOWLY. Honestly, if you have not reached the desired straightness after repeating the process once or twice, your iron is not set high enough. Like I said, DON'T BE AFRAID OF STYLING TOOLS. Setting the temperature low to protect the hair, but going over it many, many times defeats the purpose of the lowered heat setting. If your hair is coarse or really curly, I set mine on the highest temperature, but then move pretty fast with the comb and clamp method.
Bring down the next section once you are happy with the first section and repeat. If you don't like the flat-to-your-head look, instead of clamping and pulling down with your iron, clamp and pull up with the sections following the first. You will still get the hair straight, but it will have some lift at the scalp. If you want even more lift, flat iron the hair while upside down and hang there for a moment or two to allow it to cool before you stand up.
Tip #3. People will see you from all angles, so look at your hair from all angles.
I hope I'm not insulting anyone by going this far, but I have seen people hold the hand-held mirror behind their head while looking in the larger mirror rather than turning around and looking at the reflection in the larger mirror with the hand-held mirror. I have to say, don't do that. You can see all your angles by looking into the hand-held mirror and checking the sides, back and top for missed spots, creases caused by the flat iron, and holes or separations in the hair. No one wants a football helmet, but we do want symmetry and continuity in the finished style. Once you are happy with the finished style, use a styling finisher to get rid of the fuzzy chicks; the not-quite-finished edges of the style that need to be pulled together to give it that finished just-from-the-salon kick.
Now, once you have finished reading this, then trying this, and you get to that point where you are thinking I am crazy or it is taking way too long, which is to say longer than about 10 to 15 minutes for most people, go to my About Trish section where you will find that I do FREE STYLE LESSONS. What is a free style lesson? You will come in to the shop with clean hair and your blow-dryer, your brushes, your styling products and I will wet your hair and watch you style it. I can evaluate what you are doing, correct what needs to be corrected, and applaud what deserves praise. This is also an opportunity for me to evaluate your styling tools and products and make recommendations there.