I’ve been doing comb blow outs (or rather, hav­ing my moth­er do them on me) since I was a child — comb blow outs were the stan­dard. I nev­er imag­ined that my hair would smooth out using a ten­sion blow out. Those looked like some­thing you did when your hair was already straight. Week after week, I watched my moth­er sweep up bro­ken pieces of hair after every blow dry ses­sion.

When I first went nat­ur­al, this was one of the main things I want­ed to alle­vi­ate — that aspect of mechan­i­cal dam­age to my hair — but still, I didn’t think ten­sion blow dry­ing would work for me. I even had a Chi dry­er that had a noz­zle and the strangest comb attach­ment ever (that was also very awk­ward to use). Years lat­er, I bought a T3 dry­er that a comb attach­ment wasn’t made for. It was then that I tried ten­sion dry­ing and I haven’t looked back. Here are some pros and cons of each tech­nique.

Comb Blow Out


What It Is: Using a comb attach­ment on your blow dry­er to repeat­ed­ly comb through your hair while it’s dry­ing.

Pros: Quick­er Dry­ing Time. Stretch­es hair by default. Repeat­ed­ly detan­gles.

Cons: Lots of mechan­i­cal manip­u­la­tion, which often leads to increased shed­ding and break­age. Hair con­tin­u­ous­ly tan­gles dur­ing the dry­ing process.

Ten­sion Blow Out


What It Is: Using the con­cen­tra­tor noz­zle or head of the blow dry­er held at close prox­im­i­ty to a hair sec­tion held taut, mov­ing the dry­er up and down the length of the hair until it dries.

Pros: Min­i­mal mechan­i­cal manip­u­la­tion, which results in less break­age and hair loss. Smoothes hair bet­ter than a comb blow out.

Cons: Close prox­im­i­ty to heat. Hair may tan­gle dur­ing dry­ing process and will need to be detan­gled again in a dry state before styling. Longer dry­ing time.

Ulti­mate­ly, I def­i­nite­ly pre­fer ten­sion dry­ing, even if it does take a bit longer. The fact that it decreas­es break­age or hair loss dur­ing the dry­ing process is more impor­tant than a quick­er dry­ing time. Also, if I need to detan­gle again, all I do is add a tiny bit of mois­tur­iz­er, then comb through and put the sec­tion in a bun or twist. I cer­tain­ly don’t miss the ball of hair on the bath­room floor that I became so famil­iar with dur­ing blow dry­ing.

Which method do you pre­fer?


Elle is the edi­tor and cre­ative direc­tor of the YouTube chan­nel and blog, Quest for the Per­fect Curl at www.questfortheperfectcurl.com. Her chan­nel focus­es on nat­ur­al hair, beau­ty, and fit­ness. She loves prod­ucts that smell like dessert, yoga, and glit­ter. Fol­low her @qftpc.

Leave a Reply

5 Comments on "Tension vs. Comb Blow Outs: Which Method is Less Damaging?"

Notify of
This is exact­ly why I love roller­set­ting. Dry­ers in my coun­try do not have comb attach­ments, I have no idea they exist­ed until my stint liv­ing in Hous­ton a few years ago. I also don’t have the patience for the ten­sion method, and I feel that it doesn’t stretch my hair suf­fi­cient­ly. Once in a blue moon I would vis­it my very rep­utable and gen­tle hair dress­er and her blow outs involved round boarhair brush­es. But I can­not do that myself. So, I roller­set, have the hair air dry in the rollers and then when I remove it hair is… Read more »

Does any­one use the ten­sion method with cool air only? I think I still expe­ri­enced break­age from the ten­sion method, but that could be because the heat was too high. I’m won­der­ing if cool air works.


I have tried the ten­sion method with cool air. It was just okay for me. It took a real­ly long time and I wasn’t that hap­py with the end result, as it wasn’t as “blown out” as I would like. I much pre­fer a low to medi­um heat set­ting as it’s faster and I haven’t had any prob­lems with heat dam­age (I only do blow outs a cou­ple times a year though).


I do the comb blow dry. I have NEVER expe­ri­enced a smooth blow out with the ten­sion method.

Ugonna Wosu

I kind of do a com­bo of both meth­ods, so I can’t choose one over the over . I’ve mas­tered using the comb (with lit­tle manip­u­la­tion to my hair), and the ten­sion method works well as long as I pick out the roots of that sec­tion with my comb first.