Low humidity, indoor activities, a general air of festive prettiness: the holidays are the perfect time to invest a little extra energy in a sleek blowout. It may seem impossible to replicate a shiny, bouncy, long-lasting salon blowout, but according to professional stylist Mitch DeRosa, it’s all about “Working section by section, tension, and drying each section completely.” Here’s how to get a salon-perfect blowout at home—each and every time.
Prep the Right Way
Although many brands now make special straightening shampoos and conditioner, use whatever shampoo or product is most appropriate for your hair type, whether it’s color-protecting, moisturizing, or volumizing. “For dry hair, I especially love the new Restore line by Living Proof,” says DeRosa.
“It’s always best to begin by applying the styling products onto very damp or wet hair,” says DeRosa. “The water acts as a vehicle so the products can be distributed evenly.” DeRosa often starts his blowouts with a dollop of Living Proof No Frizz Straight Styling Cream  for medium to thick hair, or Straight Spray  for fine hair. “It provides just the right amount of slip for blow-drying without the heavy greasiness of silicones and oils,” he says.
Use the Right Tools
“It’s difficult to dry hair properly without the proper tools,” DeRosa says. “One of the biggest mistakes women make when blow-drying their own hair is not using the proper size brush.” In general, the longer and thicker your hair, the bigger the brush should be. To dry hair without adding volume, a large paddle brush is ideal, while round brushes will help give lift and texture. He recommends using a natural bristle brush, which is less likely to snag hair than a plastic one, and plenty of salon-style clips to keep the wet hair away from the sections you’re drying.
DeRosa suggests the “Blowout in a Box” set, which contains a T3 Featherweight Hair Dryer, Living Proof Straight Styling Spray, a tortoiseshell comb for detangling, a ceramic barrel brush for styling, and more great tips. (available at Sephora  for $200)
Start With Bangs, Then Work from the Back
If you have bangs, start there, DeRosa says. “I like to begin there because [bangs are] much more difficult to style once they’ve dried on their own.”
Separate the hair into front and back sections by parting hair across the top of the head. Next take three to four horizontal sections, starting at the nape, and work your way up to the crown. “The key is to dry it in sections, dry each section completely, and use some tension,” DeRosa says. “Hair has a lot of elasticity, and if it’s stretched around the round brush and dried completely, it will hold the shape.” Next, move on to the sides, beginning at the bottom and working your way up to the crown again until all hair is dry.
Consider your particular hair type, and adjust your technique accordingly. “For excessively curly hair,” DeRosa says, “take smaller sections while drying and overlay a blast of Straight spray on top of each section.” The spray will give hair plenty of control without weighing it down. If your hair is very fine, use a brush with softer bristles. “For hair that’s prone to breakage,” DeRosa says, “Use almost no tension when drying, low heat, and lots of finesse with a soft natural bristle brush .”
If you did a thorough job with the dryer, it won’t be necessary to go over your hair again with a flat iron. However, DeRosa says, “If you like a straighter or more polished look, a flat iron could be beneficial.”
Leave It Alone
Finishing products like glossing creams or shine serums can sometimes leave blow-dried hair dull, weighed-down, and greasy. To maintain your look for a few days, avoid humidity, avoid touching it too much (which can cause frizziness and transfer oils from your fingers), and don’t add too much new product. “Stay away from heavy silicones and oily products,” DeRosa says. “They’re style killers.” He recommends using a spritz of Straight Spray , a lightweight aerosol that’s almost impossible to overuse.
Practice, Practice, Practice
By doing regular blowouts, you’ll naturally become more adept at the technique and find out what works best for your hair, making the process go by more quickly. “The best tip I give my clients is to do their hair at night,” DeRosa says. “Do half the head, take a break, and then do the other half. Get an egg timer and spend no more than ten to fifteen minutes on the front, and the same on the back. You’ll find that after a month, you’ll build arm strength and be more proficient with the brush and dryer.”