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You'd never toss a delicate lacey bra in a hot washer and dryer like you would with sturdy boyfriend jeans. Same thing goes for hair that's fine or thin (and most likely fragile, damaged or on its way to being) at age 50-plus. You simply can't fry-dry or heat-style the heck out of it like a Victoria's Secret supermodel. First, be reasonable: A big luscious, bouncy mane is unattainable. If you're starting out with skinny hair now, what you can get is fuller, plumper, healthier looking locks. The secret is a DIY blowout that's smarter, safer and most of all — faster. Here's the seven-step secret to hefty hair.
1. Start with a no-sulfate shampoo and conditioner.
Sulfates provide a rich lather, but they strip fine hair of natural oils, protein and essential moisture — which often leads to breakage and frizz. Never skip conditioner (thin hair myth)! Fine, skinny hair needs it most because that heated blow-dryer, even when used correctly and quickly, does build in body but also dries things out.
2. Find a cool spot in front of a mirror to work.
Blow-drying hair in a muggy and steamy bathroom slows you down and makes your scalp and hair sweaty, counteracting the whole point.
3. Wrap sopping wet hair in a microfiber towel and gently blot.
If you don't have one of these lightweight fast-drying towels that absorb water like a sponge, get one! Unlike ordinary bath towels that fray the cuticle (the outer coat of your hair), microfiber ones smooth it down. Just pat — no rub-a-dub-dub.
4. Apply a multitasking heat-protectant spray.
Use on blotted hair and then gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb. A hero product — such as SheaMoisture Community Commerce Argan Oil & Almond Milk Smooth & Tame Thermo-Protect, Living Proof Restore Instant Protection or John Frieda Frizz Ease Heat Defeat Protecting Spray — also works as a nourishing leave-in, but won't add weight or grease.
5. Rough-dry hair.
A rough blow-dry doesn't mean to be rough, just fast ... and not precise. Bend at the waist and dry from beneath, gently tousling (using hands not a brush to move and lift hair) as you follow with the dryer. Keep hands, hair and dryer constantly moving, nozzle pointed down about eight inches from the hair and on a medium setting. Blow-dry hair 60 to 70 percent dry. This prevents overstressing hair with extreme concentrated heat. Blast roots with the cold shot button before continuing.
6. Know the exceptions.
If you have bangs (especially ones that tend to frizz or curl), dry these smooth and straight first, then rough-dry the rest. If you have curly or African American hair and want to keep the texture, rough-dry all with a diffuser and keep your heat protectant nearby to re-mist sections that have gone too dry too fast.
7. Flip hair back and stand up.
Use a round natural bristle brush for a smooth finish and extra volume. Wrap large sections around the brush and briefly blast with the dryer for two seconds each. Avoid overstretching the hair. Too much tension on the hair causes breakage.
For more beauty and style tips, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love After 50 by Lois Joy Johnson and AARP's Beauty & Style app for tablets.