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The term “blowout” can actually refer to either a method of styling hair or the haircut itself. The blowout styling method is done by blow-drying the hair section by section, arranging it to fall in the right direction for the finished style. The haircut is done by cutting the hair on top of the head rather short, and shaving or close-cutting the sides and back. The blow-out haircut is primarily worn by men, while the styling method generally refers to women's hair.
The blowout haircut is similar to a “fade,” except the sides may be shaved in a blunt line rather than tapered toward the crown. The look was popularized in the early 21st century by young men returning from the Iraq war with their military haircuts beginning to grow in. Friends and siblings began to imitate the look, associating it with the reputation of bravery and machismo of the returned soldier, and the look caught on. Suddenly, celebrities were turning up with blow-out haircuts, and people took style cues from them as well.
The cut is usually styled with a gel or molding paste rubbed through the hair when damp. The hair on the crown of the head is finger-styled to stand up, and occasionally spiked or twisted into points. As the haircut begins to grow out, some people spike the sides and back as a way to incorporate the new growth into the style until it is time for the next trim.
The blowout styling method is completely different, and is generally done on women. It begins by blow-drying combed wet hair on high heat, aiming the air stream randomly around the head until the hair is about 70% dry. Then the heat is brought down to medium and the hair is carefully smoothed and styled with a round or vented brush into a shape compatible with the finished style. A round brush is used to straighten curly hair or add body to limp hair, and a vented paddle brush is used to smooth frizzy or coarse hair.
The proper blowout can make or break a style. For instance, a style that involves the hair being parted on the left and swept back into a sleek bun is more easily achieved if the hair is brushed back and to the right as it dries. Heat opens the cuticle of the hair, making it more flexible and more likely to take a shape, making the finished style neater and longer-lasting. A good blowout can prevent fly-aways, falling tendrils, and a myriad of other hairstyle issues that occur as a result of wind, humidity, and movement.
I'd have to slightly question the idea that the men's haircut came from the military. Where I live in Northern California, that haircut started becoming popular among stylish teen boys in the mid-late 90s along with attire I can only describe as an early precursor to steampunk (really old vintage clothing, pocket watches, boots, etc.).
The non-chemical women's version (blow drying a part at a time while using specific brushes) has me a bit baffled, because it just sounds like the same techniques my Boomer mother's generation did at home normally.
Maybe most of my generation didn't learn from their mothers because (unlike me) almost all of the girls used hairspray so heavily all through adolescence? (Mine taught me because I have super-fine hair that I always wear loose/natural?)
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