Hairstyling Tools: Tips and Tricks

Stylist who is blow drying long hair
Photo: ESB Professional/Shutterstock
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:
Combs and Brushes: Many people still don't understand the basic principles behind the different types of combs and brushes 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.
Wide-toothed comb and small-toothed comb
For brushes, the idea is similar but there are more varieties:
A Vented Brush has multiple rows of widely-spaced tines 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.
Vented brush and round brush
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 styles, or for distributing natural hair oils and massaging the scalp to maintain hair and scalp health.
Paddle brush and bristled brush
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 more effectively.
It is most often used to blow-dry hair into straighter/smoother styles. The diffuser attachment is designed to soften the air stream and disperse the heated air for a gentler flow. The diffuser is most often used to dry curly hair without straightening the curl.
Blow-dryer with diffuser and concentrator
Number 1: When blow-drying the hair, ALWAYS use a good protective conditioner beforehand.
Number 2: Direct the airflow along the hair shaft at an angle towards the ends of the hair. This minimizes the risk of the hot air roughening up the cuticle of the hair and leaves the finished style looking smoother.
Number 3: Keep the airflow 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
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 in favor of hot rollers is convenience.
You can wrap your hair in hot rollers and then continue to get ready while they cool and "set". Finish getting dressed, put on your makeup, have breakfast, or do anything you need to while you let the rollers cool. Once cooled, take out the rollers and style your hair as desired.
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By Stacy | Updated | ©