While there are a thousand articles out there on how to get the perfect at-home blowout (I'm a firm believer it's an urban myth), there's something about the smooth finish and bouncy style you get at the salon that makes us want to spend $40 on a simple blow-dry. That being said, we like to get our money's worth by making our blowouts last as long as humanly possible -- without looking like a grease bucket, of course. After debating just how many days we could make a blowout last, we tasked one staffer with the ultimate blowout challenge. Our photo editor, Paulina, agreed to forgo washing her hair for as many days as she could stand to find out exactly how to get the most mileage out of a salon blowout. The results: coveted wisdom we're sharing with (lucky) you. The first stop on Paulina's hair journey: celebrity stylist, Mika Fowler, at Kim Vo Salon in Beverly Hills.
Mika knew our challenge was to see how long Paulina's blowout could last. What she didn't know was that Paulina leads a very active lifestyle. "I ride my bike to and from work in [foggy] Santa Monica, I work out regularly and I have a volleyball game tonight," she told her stylist. In addition to her active lifestyle, Paulina -- as you can see from the photo -- has bangs. If you've ever had fringe, you know that this would be no cakewalk for Mika -- or Paulina.
In order to make the style last as long as possible, Mika decided to give Paulina a sleeker blowout, using a flat iron to smooth the roots, bringing the flat iron as close to the scalp as possible. The sleeker style would help keep Paulina's fine hair from getting too frizzy from the moisture in the air and while she rode her bike. "Your blowout should really last quite a while," Mika says. "You don't need to wash your hair that often. It's really just your mentality that says you need to wash your hair. You have to change that mentality and your hair will adjust." Judging by the sudden popularity of the "No Poo" challenge bloggers have been taking on, we know this to be true -- but that doesn't mean Paulina liked the idea of going sans-shampoo anymore than when she walked into the salon.
Bump, Set, Braid
Keeping your blowout fresh doesn't mean you have to cease all physical activity -- this isn't the Victorian era, after all. Even after Paulina's volleyball game that very first night (which she won, in case you were wondering) , she still came to work the next day looking like she had come straight from the salon. The trick: Replace your go-to gym ponytail with a loose, wavy braid, and your elastic hair ties with cloth ones. "The braid will help hair keep its shape, but there's not as much tension so it won't leave a crease like your ponytail will," Mika says. After your sweat session, simply swipe a comb or boar bristle brush through your hair.
Know Your Limits
If your medicine cabinet is full of hair serums, sprays and masques (guilty), you'll have to go on a product fast. "People always think you need dry shampoo, but really the more product you use, the dirtier your hair gets," Mika says. Instead, arm yourself with just two beauty tools: a boar bristle brush and shower caps. The boar bristle brush will give more than one with synthetic fibers to smooth the hair. And when you're in the shower, double up on shower caps to keep hair from getting frizzy in the humidity. (Since Paulina had no shower caps on hand, she skipped the showers and took baths instead.)
However, just like diets, you get cheat days. If you have extra dry hair, you can use a serum or light shine spray, but overall it's better to skip product. You can also apply a little leave-in conditioner just on the ends of hair to touch up a "stale" blowout and add polish. To keep bangs from lying flat against your forehead, Mika recommends using a light finishing spray like Schwarzkopf Professional Osis Plus Elastic Finish, $18, sprayed on a finishing brush or paddle brush to comb through your bangs and add volume.
Boost Your Color
By day three with no washes (and six bike rides wearing her helmet to and from work, a volleyball game, Nike training club, and oh -- a couple of barre classes as well) Paulina employed every woman's two-second beauty trick to feel better: red lipstick. A bright lipstick draws focus to the mouth and distracts from a lackluster hair day. "My hair is pretty low-maintenance, so the ends were still shiny and soft but my roots and bangs were starting to get greasy," Paulina says.