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Hairstyling Tools: Tips and Tricks

       When you look today at the sheer number of tools and appliances available to assist you in styling your hair, it's easy to get confused. What do I need? Will that work on my hair? What does THIS thing do? There are dozens of tools designed to help you curl, crimp, smooth and straighten your hair. Here are some basics on the tools available, what they're best used for and some tips on how to use them:
 
woman, blowdrying her long blonde hair        Combs and Brushes: Many people still don't understand the basic principles behind the different comb and brush types available. Here's a quick primer:
 
Wide-toothed Combs are designed to detangle and smooth out towel-dried hair. For best results, use a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner before combing out towel-dried hair.
 
Smaller-toothed Combs are used for smoothing and finishing short or straight hairstyles. For brushes, the idea is similar but there are more varieties:
 
A Vented Brush has multiple rows of tines (widely-set) along a base with air holes or openings to allow air to circulate easily. Vented brushes are designed for use with blow-dryers to control the hair during the drying process.
 
Round or Curved Brushes have rows of tines on a round or curved base and are designed for use in blow-dry styling to add soft curves to the styles.
 
Paddle Brushes have rows of tines on a flat base and are used in blow-dry straightened styles to keep the hair smooth and flat.
 
Bristled Brushes can have natural or synthetic bristles and are used for finishing and smoothing a style, or for distributing natural hair oils and massaging the scalp to maintain hair and scalp health.
 
       And now, on the other standard tools in the hair styling arsenal:
 
       Blow Dryer: Hand-held hair dryers have become a staple in hair care. These tools are designed to use directed streams of heated air to dry the hair quickly. A good blow-dryer will come with both a concentrator and a diffuser attachment. The concentrator attachment is designed to further narrow the stream of air, and direct it better. It is used most often to bow-dry hair into straighter/smoother styles. The diffuser attachment is designed to soften the air stream and distribute the heated air for a gentler flow. The diffuser is used most often to dry curly hair without straightening the curl.
 
       Tips:
 
       Number 1: When blow-drying the hair, ALWAYS use a good protective conditioner beforehand.
 
       Number 2: Direct the air stream along the hair shaft at an angle toward the ends of the hair. This minimizes the risk of the hot air roughing up the cuticle of the hair and leaves the finished style looking smoother.
 
       Number 3: Keep the air stream moving and always hold the dryer at least 6-8 inches away from the hair. Most incidents of damaged hair from blow-dry styling come as a result of holding the hair in the heated air stream too long.
 
       Hot Rollers: These tools use a combination of heat and/or moisture to change the curl pattern of the hair. Designed to be used on dry hair, hot rollers work by wrapping segments of hair around the heated tools, and leaving the tools in place until they cool. One factor that works as a plus for hot rollers is convenience. You can wrap your hair in hot rollers and then continue to get ready while they cool and "set". Finish dressing, apply your make-up, have breakfast, or do anything you need to while you let the rollers cool. Once cooled, remove the rollers and style your hair as desired.
 
       Tips:
 
       Number 1: Always make sure the hair is wrapped smoothly and held securely in the rollers. Good tension in the roller ensures that you get the best curl result.
 
       Number 2: A light misting of hairspray on the wrapped rollers will give a little extra hold and "lift" to the curled hairstyle.
 
       Number 3: Make certain that your hair is completely dry before using the hot rollers and ALWAYS let the rollers cool COMPLETELY before removing them. Most of the incidents of poor results from using hot rollers come as a result of having still-damp hair before using the rollers, or from taking down the rollers before they have completely cooled. Remember heat and moisture will break the side bonds needed to change the curl pattern of the hair, but they don't get reset into the new curl pattern until the hair is again cooled and dry.
 
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