Learning Task - Junior Hairdresser - Blow Drying

  1. Select interesting challenge and get appropriate support to carry it out.
  2. Understand tools and their use, process steps and the constraints involved, and make helpful notes while learning the skill.
  3. Write down process activity steps.
  4. Use process to repeat skill on my own (homework). Repeat to improve. Seek feedback on elements that I am unsure about. Improve process description.
  5. Repeat at salon. Get feedback. Use notes to improve process description.
  6. Use description of tools and process to pass on skill.

Choice of Challenge and Motivation

Choice of Challenge and Setup

I had been considering an appropriate and suitably interesting, challenging and achievable learning task... I was intrigued to see that motor skills could be considered as well as more cognitive knowledge-based tasks. So I was considering a range of things when I happened to be at the hairdresser and a new junior was being assisted by a senior colleague while she washed my hair. That got me thinking...

Speaking with the senior stylist there, a L'Oreal I.D. Expert, who I happen to know is one of the top hairdressers trainers in Scotland, and an award winner, I asked what a junior hairdresser can expect to learn in their first training periods and how long such training takes. We chatted about the initial skills: hair washing; customer interaction; blow drying; colour removal; colouring; etc.

Training typically takes place on a half day when the salon is closed, and practiced on dummies, and colleagues. And then taken into the salon gradually. We chatted more and I explained about the learning challenge. I could sense an opportunity.

Rational for Choice of Learning Challenge

I thought this might be a novel and fun challenge. Quite different to what I normally do. Involving interaction with different people. The Stylist thought it would be cute to have a skill where I could offer to professionally blow dry my wife's hair. When I mentioned this to my wife she said she would prefer me to get a motor skill like ironing, cooking or painting windows! She also said that it was a good job I had not been to the dentist and suggested that as a learning challenge!

A Plan of Action

week 1: approval for challenge from tutor. Application to hairdresser. Practicalities. Time to look at alternative if not possible.

week 2-3: contingency time in case hairdressing not possible.

weeks 4-6: two training sessions: e.g., introduction to skills, hair washing, customer social skills, blow drying techniques on various styles.

weeks 5-7: write process, how to pass on the skills, trial passing on the skills.

weeks 6-8: write up and lessons learned, web page completion, copy of report to trainer.

Point of Contact:

  • Karen Temple, L'Oreal I.D. Expert
  • Jason Hall Hairdressing, 101 Colinton Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1AL
  • Tel: 0131 444 1244
  • Training sessions: Wednesday mornings
Application as Junior Hairdresser
Junior Hairdresser Application
My application as a Junior Hairdresser made on 16-Sep-2011 to Karen Temple. Confirmation that this should be possible was given that same day. Discussions on plan of action took place in week of 18-Sep-2011.

Tools of the Trade
Teasing Brush Paddle Denman Vent Brush Large Denman Small Diameter
High Hold
Small Diameter
Metal Barrel
Large Diameter
High Hold
Large Diameter
Ceramic Barrel
Denman Brushes
Round Brushes
Use on dry hair, pre-wash to remove existing hair products. Not used for blow drying To provide large surface for blow drying long hair. Larger air cushion to be gentle on hair Vents and open shape allow for air flow for blow dryer at early stages. Or use fingers. Used to rapidly dry hair from wet and build volume More bristles give greater hold. Plastic base can build static in hair Small diameter for shorter hair. Red bobbles on end of bristles give greater hold Metal cylinder act as a drying mechanism Larger diameter for longer parts of hair Ceramic barrel smooth on hair
Use point to
section hair
Main part of Comb
Cutting and finishing part of Comb

Blow Drying Technique
  1. Initially comb through the wet hair starting towards the outer part of the hair, and then nearer the roots for later comb through.
  2. Take care that the gauze on the back of the dryer is fitted otherwise fluff and even hair can be sucked in and the dryer can overheat.
  3. Check metal jewellery is covered before starting or it can heat up and be uncomfortable.
  4. Hair dryer nozzle left off for initial drying. Use low heat setting. Loose blow dry at first, especially for long hair. Can burn scalp otherwise. Use fingers running through hair, or vent brush to build required body, volume or "oomph". Plan to get hair 70% dry at this stage.
  5. For next stage of styling, the nozzle now put on at a suitable angle depending on stylist.
  6. The hair is "sectioned", e.g. from crown to ear both sides, and crown to nape backwards, with parts being clipped up in position with hair grips. [can also use temples and occipital bone as sectioning end points
  7. Choose appropriate brush for hair length... one initially with not too much grip would be chosen.
  8. Position hair dryer over head and pointing downwards and away from head and towards yourself a little.
  9. Now use fingers to section out a half inch horizontal strip of section being worked upon. Pull that part upwards between fingers with fingers close to scalp. Put brush underneath close to root, and gently roll hair onto it (not so far that it tangles round it... hence choice of an appropriate diameter brush for length being handled). Pulling out and downwards, as heat is applied very close to the brush with dryer. Hair flow should be outwards not towards scalp. Repeat until smooth and dry.
  10. Unclip sectioned hair above the dry part, take another half inch horizontal section out, and clip rest back up. Repeat drying on the new part. Ensure feather in of the adjacent sections as you work.
  11. Work round all sections until hair is almost complete. Use larger diameter round brush on longer hair sections.
  12. Now dry fringe and style in to rest of hair. Add volume to sections near crown by brushing some sections upwards and forwards before laying them to back again and brushing in.

Blow Drying Notes
  • Never blow dry hair which is already dry. It should have a styling or finishing product on it to protect the hair from the heat.
  • "Morrocan Oil" is a conditioner and finishing product but offers no heat protection. My wife wanted to know about that. "Elixir Oil" is used in the salon as it additionally offers heat protection.
  • Heat is used to position the hair. Cold to set it. Think of candle wax as the example.
  • Roots first, not ends or blow dry will collapse.
  • Work from middle of back of hair forwards on each side for each section.
  • If hair is not brushed smooth in any area it will look dull.
  • To prevent a kink appearing in hair near to root, make sure brush is tight against scalp for each brush stroke, and pull directly outwards at first rather than downwards.
  • If using your fingers to section the hair is not so effective for yourself, you can use the tip of a sectioning hair grip to separate the hair into horizontal sections.
  • Keep sectioning hair clips close to scalp and make sure their ends are well away from part of hair you will work on.
  • Professionals typically take 15 minutes for blow drying element of a 40 minute cut and blow dry appointment.

Diary and Photo Log
Training 19-Oct-2011
Homework 20-Oct-2011
Homework 21-Oct-2011

 Follow steps on my own...
 Tangles along the way...
 Use larger diameter brush  

Homework 22-Oct-2011 - 3rd practice on my model.

Preparation 24-Oct-2011 - Preparing for passing on the skill to someone else. Printed off brush types image as a visual aid. Visited store to see range of brushes on sale. Bought professional comb, brush and sectioning clips.

Homework 25-Oct-2011 - Try on first real head. Blow dry my wife's hair and she said it looked nice.

Passing on the Skill 25-Oct-2011 - Austin and Margaret

Using visual aids to show the brush types and uses, and using the process and notes to pass on the skill. A tangle along the way. Sectioning is hard. I realise the value of getting the brush close to the scalp at the start of each stoke. Observation of another learner is useful for my own training.

Training 26-Oct-2011

Second training session with Karen Temple at the Salon.

First, a further blow dry on the doll model head to show what I had learned. I was also shown how to add volume at the crown. More discussion, show mes by Karen and attempts by me to horizontally section hair were made. I find that quite hard to do cleanly.

Live Model 26-Oct-2011

Then I was let loose on Emma to do her hair for real. A scary thought for Emma no doubt, as well as me.

Assessment, Training Manual and e-Teaching

I was given Training and Assessment Sheets for my training sessions by Karen.

I was provided with a training manual used by Hairdressing trainees - Leo Palladino & Martin Green, Hairdressing - The Foundations, The official guide to Hairdressing S/NVQ Level 2, sixth edition, 2006, Cengage Learning. http://www.cengage.co.uk.

Palladino & Green (2006) section GH10.2 covers blow drying essentials. Page 179.

An e-teaching website accompanies the book at http://eteachhairdressing.co.uk and I was provided with student access to it. Karen suggested that I should undertake a quiz on blow drying that is on that website.

Further Lessons Learned via Questions
  1. 16-Sep-2011 - I realise the value of a clear pre-course briefing. Joining instructions, what to wear, items to bring along, etc.
  2. 19-Sep-2011 - I am told about student log book which all juniors are asked to maintain, showing record of their training. Photos are often added to this, so a camera should be taken.
  3. 20-Sep-2011 - Now told hairdressing is a lot about maths!
  4. 20-Oct-1011 - Tangles - occur when the brush is over rotated and the hair catches all the way round a round barrel brush. Use a larger diameter barrel brush to help.
  5. 21-Oct-2011 - Question: I understand at the back I section top part from crown to each ear on each side to clip it up, leaving back fringe bit to do first, then the bits above in strips a bit at a time. But then I get to sides. Do I just go up bit by bit each side, or do I section again horizontally from ear to crown, pin that up and work on bit underneath, then drop top part down a bit at a time again?
  6. 22-Oct-2011 - I have already taken back some things into home blow drying. Safety by checking the hair dryer inlet gauze for obstructions, and using the dryer without the nozzle for initial drying moving from roots outwards.
  7. 26-Oct-2011 - I had worried that blow drying the hair of the model three or more times after just wetting it could damage the hair or leave it frizzy. I asked if shampooing, conditioning or adding a protective product was needed. It is the case that use of shampoo and conditioner, or fingering through a heat protective product such as "Tec Art" Iron Finish creme would be useful. This was done on the model head before a further blow dry.


I am very grateful to Karen Temple for spending the time with me on this learning challenge, and for lending me some of the tools of the trade. And thanks for taking the training seriously. As I took it seriously. It was a very interesting new skill to learn.

Very many thanks to the doll model head. I hope it was returned in not too bad a condition. Emma was my "live model" and showed great patience while I blow dried her lovely red bob. And to my wife, Margaret, for trusting me to do her own hair, and being patient while I passed on the skill.

My thanks also to Jason Hall, owner of the salon, who was supportive and facilitated my attendance at the training sessions.

ASK - Attitude, Skill, Knowledge

Austin Tate, October 2011 [Website as PDF, MS Word Version, MS Word as PDF]