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Whether you use your hair dryer every day or only pull it out for special occasions, chances are you’re using it incorrectly. By misusing your dryer, you may be missing out on its styling potential or even damaging your strands. But not to worry, with just a few quick pointers you can unlock the full potency of this styling tool. Just click the notes to find out how. –– Laura Martin

1. Cool Shot Makes Your Style Last. After you’ve finished styling, set the air pressure on your dryer to low and hold down the cool shot button; go over your entire style quickly to set, add shine, and create long lasting shape.

2. Cleaning Keeps Performance Optimal. Every dryer is a little different, but most of them have a screen which needs to be cleaned regularly to remove lint and hair. You can do this easily with an old toothbrush. A clean dryer is more powerful.

3. Concentrators Maximizes Both Volume and Smoothness. Attach the concentrator nozzle to the end of your dryer and you’ll get a stronger, more focused air flow. Use a scooping motion on the underside of roots to create maximum lift, or work from roots to ends, with air flow parallel to hair to optimize shine by smoothing cuticles as you style.

4. Diffusers Keep Your Curls Intact. Use a diffused attachment and a low pressure setting to remove moisture from curls without causing frizz. As you dry, lift hair at roots, disturbing ends as little as possible.

5. Your Hair Type Should Determine Your Settings. If you have fine hair, the high settings on your dryer will damage and over-dry. For most hair types a medium heat setting and high air flow will maximize styling potential while minimizing damage. For coarse curly hair, only high heat will give you a polished end result, and on your hair type it won’t cause damage. For all hair types, Using Protective Thickening Lotion before styling adds a layer of protection.

Special thanks to Laura Martin for this post. Laura is a professional hair stylist, former senior educator at ARROJO cosmetology school, and a creative non-fiction MFA student at Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA. Follow her inspirations on twitter @LarMarStyle

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