The biggest mistakes you make when drying your hair

Sometimes it feels like it takes forever to painstakingly blow dry your hair. If you're getting lackluster, lifeless results after all that work, you might be wondering what you did wrong. There are a number of techniques that will help you get the luscious locks you desire. Read on for tips that will help you fix your mistakes.

Your hair is too wet

While not every expert agrees on how dry your hair should be, they do agree that you shouldn't go into the process with a sopping wet mop. As Drybar founder Alli Webb told InStyle, if your hair is too wet, it will take much too long to dry. If your blow out takes too long, all the extra heat will damage your hair. Try to get your hair mostly dry with your towel before using a blow dryer, but do so gently. If your tousling is too tough, it can create a slew of split ends. If your hair is still getting damaged, beauty guru Michelle Phan suggests using one of your T-shirts to dry your hair. For damaged or fine hair, the fibers in towels may simply be too rough. A nice cotton T-shirt will have a much gentler effect.

Your sections are too large

A great way to make sure that your blowout is speedy is to section out your hair. Sectioning your hair is good for two things: drying and styling. If your sections are too big and your dryer isn't reaching all the hair, you'll just be creating frizz due to the hair that is still wet. Bottom line: damage. Make sure that your sections are thin enough that you can quickly dry them and get on with your day.

Another helpful tip when sectioning out your hair: start from the bottom up. Clipping your hair up is easy and makes it clear which sections are dry and which are wet. If you start from the top down, the dry part of your hair may be more prone to mix in with the wet. Plus, clipping it back right after blowdrying before it's completely cooled off will leave kinks in the sections you already dried.

You're not using heat protectant

Even though you might not think of your hair dryer as a hot tool, it can get fiery pretty quick. Schwarzkopf Professional suggests that you never brandish a hot tool without first applying a protective product to your. This will not only prevent the hair from getting those nasty split ends we work so hard to cut off, but it will also help the hot tool perform to its fullest potential. Styling can be rough, but certain gels that double as protectant can actually help hold your perfectly placed flips and curls. Even better, a lot of heat protectants are in a spray form. This makes it easy to evenly distribute the product. No more greasy hair days because you were a little too heavy-handed.

You're using the wrong heat setting

Another great way to prevent frying your hair is simply by… not frying your hair. Your hair dryer has different heat settings for a reason — not all hair is created equal. Josue Perez, a professional hairstylist, told Huffington Post, "The high heat is available for really thick or coarse hair [...]. The low setting is perfect for thin or fragile hair." If you're still not convinced that too much heat is a problem, you may be on your way to dull hair, or worse. Dr. Jeff Donovan, a Canadian dermatologist, explains, "Individuals with hair damage note that hair is easily broken. The hair loses its shine. The hair becomes less manageable. In some cases, hair shaft damage may even lead to hair loss." All of these catastrophes happen when you use too much heat on your hair. When detecting hair damage, one of Dr. Donovan's first tips to clients is to use their dryer on a lower heat setting.

Wondering what the heck the cool setting is for? It's actually to make sure that your luscious locks come away shiny, sleek, and styled. After your hair is completely dry, you can blast it with cool air to keep the style stuck in place.

You're holding the dryer too close

Back up that hair dryer. Sam Villa, hair extraordinaire, suggests: "Point the nozzle diagonally down the hair strand to concentrate airflow on the head to reduce drying time." But if you get those heat-filled fumes too close to your hair, it will create some severe damage. Schwarzkopf Professional elaborates: "Holding the dryer too close for too long can literally fry the hair and burn the scalp, potentially causing permanent damage to the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss and bald patches." Clearly, it's better for your hair health (and your overall temperature) to avoid pointing the stream of air directly at the hair you're drying. If you're not sure how close to hold it, Webb suggests that, "You want the dryer pretty darn close to the hair, but not actually touching it."

You're using the wrong brush

In case I haven't said it enough already, too much heat is a huge problem when drying your hair. This makes using a metal brush that heats up rapidly a big no-no. If you've ever forgotten to take off a metal necklace before turning the air on, you know it can quickly go from cute to painfully hot. Try a boar bristle brush instead. Boar bristles give you the shine you've been searching for, and, if it's a round brush, it can also vamp up your volume. If you're having a hard time finding one, you can always opt for a brush with a combination of boar and nylon bristles.

You're not cleaning your blow dryer

Just like you need to wash your hair, you need to clean out your blow dryer. All those icky particles of dust that are collecting in your dryer's filter are doing nothing but giving you frizzies. If your dryer is all gunked up, it can't produce the amount of power that it needs to provide perfect tresses. Instead, it will make your drying process longer, and nobody has time for that. Make sure that you're not keeping your dryer around longer than its life expectancy (600-800 hours, according to Webb) and that you're maintaining its filter.

You're throwing away your attachments

Those dang attachments that come with your dryer take up a lot of space, but they're super important! Next time you're about to throw out your diffuser or your concentrator, think twice. The concentrator makes sure that your mane stays nice and sleek, while the diffuser makes sure that your curls stay airy, not crispy. Both tools can also be used on different hair types — your hair doesn't have to be chock full of curls to use the diffuser, and it doesn't have to be stick straight to use the concentrator. The attachment you reach for will depend on the look you're going for that day. Professional stylists swear by both tools, so you'd be doing your hair no favors by throwing them out.

You're using the wrong hair dryer

With fancy words like ionic, tourmaline, and ceramic thrown around on the hair drying market, which is the best for your hair? Almost all the dryers on the market claim to be ionic. Ionic dryers help your hair get dryer faster without having an increase in damage. According to ScienceLine, ions essentially eliminate static electricity, which causes frizz. The site also mentions that it doesn't have too much of an effect because the static electricity doesn't cause frizz long-term, and by the end of your blow out it would have disappeared anyway.

Ionic dryers are good for almost everyone since they have adjustable heat settings and evade the damage (plus, the market is saturated with them). Looking for an even more gentle approach? Try a ceramic dryer that relies on infrared heat. If your hair is already a little damaged and you're starting to feel as though it resembles straw more than hair, this may be a good choice for you. Finally, if you're still not satisfied, the tourmaline dryers will help give your hair enviable shine.

Be smart about your hair health

Remember that a hotter setting does not guarantee your hair will dry faster. Instead, reach for a specific type of dryer that will help wipe out all that water from your tresses. Have some extra time? Make sure to let your hair partially air dry before going all out with the heat. If you're always making sure to use protectant and you're cleaning out your dryer regularly, you're well on your way to a fabulous mane.