There are things that most people use daily that I consider seasonal products—pants not made of Lycra (I'm sorry, but skinny jeans are basically a torture device), socks most of the time (who needs them in the 10-month Texas summer?) and hair dryers.
Of these, the latter is probably the weirdest. When it's warm I like to air-dry my tresses and give my natural waves a chance to flourish instead of wilting under the canned heat. For most of my life bringing a blowdryer into the equation meant either mountains of frizz (I've been called Nala for my hair's fluffy resemblance to a lion's mane) or a ridiculous time commitment that involves not only a dryer but toiling section by section with a round brush or following with a straightener. It's a serious production. I'm too far from Dallas to make that a regular occurrence.
But much as product experimentation led me to a happy air-dry place, I've gathered the tools to make regular winter blowdrying quicker while leaving me with happy, relatively sleek tresses. Here's the tips, tricks and products that make it work.
Get Out of the Bathroom
This took me years to work out, but if you're drying your hair in a room that's still humid from your shower, not only will that humidity affect your hair, but the drying process will take longer because humid air naturally is not as effective at removing moisture. Any other spot is a better choice. (While I'm at it, the bathroom is a bad place to store your skin products for the same reason.)
Okay, now that you're moving from one room to another before drying, you need a towel for your hair—and not the same one you use on the rest of your body. The friction from cotton bath towels will add frizz—towel-dry instead with a specialized microfiber towel or turban that's designed to wick moisture away without roughing up your hair.
The Hair Dryer
If you're still using the same Conair from the '90s, you are missing out on some major technological advances. The T3 brand has been the high-end standard for years—the ionic mode is great for de-frizzing, while nonionic works for fine hair that need volume—and I recently saw a model for sale at Costco for under $100, which is less than half the standard price. However, hair pros have lately been losing it over the line of tools by Harry Josh, including his signature $250 dryer (bonus: it's an adorable mint green color) and Dyson's futuristic new dryer ($400) supposedly is a game-changer.
The Heat Protectant
Before you switch the dryer on, make sure you cover your tresses with a lightweight product that will help protect strands from the heat as well as smoothing and preventing frizz. There are many, but I swear by Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Primer, $28.
The Frizz Ease
Frizz Ease does not really have a category, because it is in a category of its own. Smooth a tiny bit of the serum through your hair before or after towel drying (I recommend before), focusing on the ends, and it tames tresses as if made of tiny hair straightening molecules, plus the silicone formula also promotes shine. I've at times tried to trade it in for more expensive versions, but this is one $10 drug store product that can't be beat.
We all know the strand-breaking damage a bad brush can do, especially on wet hair. Your best bet is a comb or your fingers until hair is at least moderately dry, but the right brush is a key styling tool, especially in keeping hair looking set. In a perfect world, we'd all have $200 Mason Pearson brushes on our vanities, but until then pick a round brush with a ceramic barrel (for volume) or a paddle brush with mixed bristles (for smooth styles) and combine with your dryer's concentrated styling attachment for your best at-home blow out.