In lockdown with salons shut this is a godsend of a tool to have at the ready, plus for people who are shielding and can’t make it to salons, this is by far the most helpful tool for achieving a professional DIY finish.
The only downside (and I’m really scrabbling here) is that it’s loud – like vacuum cleaner levels of loud. Frankly, who cares. It’s brilliant. It has significantly improved my hair life way beyond WFH. And it is absolutely not going into the dusty corner of shame.
“Your screen time was up 41% last week.” YES, THANK YOU, iPhone and your judgey alerts that no one actually needs. Of course my life is on screen: have you even met 2020?
Along with a gazillion people working from home and presenting themselves in virtual meetings, I am seriously loving sitting at my desk in, what I like to call, Mullet Mode: business up top, party down below. To give you an example, during a formal Zoom this week, I was in Christmas pyjama bottoms and a pair of chunky bed socks, with a Zara blouse, chandelier earrings and a face full of makeup. Standard. There is one area of my WFH vibe that hasn’t been playing ball, however: my hair.
The Beauty Bio
My hair’s either in a topknot, which looks lazy and highlights my double chin so I look like a giant baby on screen. Or it’s down and scruffy, because I am crap at styling my own hair (despite watching this brilliant at-home blow-dry tutorial by my editor, my arms and coordination fail midway).
I use a Dyson Hair Dryer, which I adore for its superfast and quiet drying, and occasionally a pair of straightening irons if I need to de-frizz. The problem is that this knock all the life out of my hair and flattens it like a greasy teenager; plus it’s fiddly and time-consuming.
I just want done-ish hair that looks fresh and bouncy, but not so bouncy I look like I’ve tried too hard. And – crucially – I really don’t want to try too hard.
Then one day, in early October, a brush came into my life, did marvellous things and answered my hair prayers.
The Hot Tools Volumizer 2-in-1 Brush Dryer is one of those big plug-in barrel brushes that blasts hot air. When my trial sample arrived, I was like ‘yeah yeah seen this before #eyeroll’, because the ones I’ve tried in the past have been heavy, the device’s base catches on fine hairs (especially the rotating ones) and usually the bristles create tangles and painful knots. For the money they cost, you want to look forward to using them, not dread the hard work and detangling palaver. They’re the sort of tools you use twice and leave in a dusty corner-of-shame.
Within seconds of turning this one on it felt different. It was lighter for a start, and as I prepared to tug through a section of semi-dry hair with a pre-emptive wince, it quite literally glided through like silk. The oval-shaped barrel created a very slight curve. Err hang on chaps. This is exactly how I want my hair to look. Not poker straight, not twirly-whirly, but somewhere in between. And it was so damn easy.
I carried on over my whole head, without any kind of strategy, simply lifting random bits. No tangles. No pulling. Soft bounce. This is witchcraft.
Why is it so different? I spoke to Robert Eaton, Hot Tools European Brand Ambassador and 2019 British Hairdresser of the Year who explained that the dual bristles (short and soft, plus long and sturdy) control the hair and prevent knots. The barrel is coated with a unique ‘Black Gold Titanium Micro-Shine Coating’ that stops friction, gives each strand of hair a shiny finish and distributes heat evenly, which all contribute to that glide.
It comes with two interchangeable barrels: the larger one is great for a quick once-over if you want a smooth-out, gentle-volume look. The smaller one is better for short hair, or if you want to create more pronounced curves – and even if you wind it all the way to your roots it doesn’t burn your scalp, so you can get a good amount of height in there.
One thing I found super helpful was the tip of the barrel doesn’t get hot, so you can hold a segment in place with your other hand for support. The barrels themselves are oval shaped – not quite sure why, but at this point I am loving it so much I am not going to question this game-changing hair sorcery.
And I do not use ‘game-changing’ lightly: after 20 years of doing this job I can smell a gimmick a mile away, but this really has become such a hair hero for me it is truly worthy of that word and this column.
To give it a full, proper test, over the past few weeks I’ve been trying it in a few ways and here’s my learns.
On clean wet hair (that’s been brushed through with a Wet Brush): it’s quite time-consuming, much better to start on dry-ish hair.
With some texturing spray on semi-dry, detangled hair: this is the nirvana combo. I am evangelical about L’Oreal Tecni.Art Pli Styling Spray for soft, flexible volume. And I’m super impressed with the new The Hair Lab By Mark Hill Working Styling Spray for a little more oompf.
On day two, after a night in a topknot: phenomenal. I didn’t expect to see all the kinks from the tight elastic band disappear so easily.
After a walk outside in the drizzle: in a mere 30 seconds you can do a very brief once-over that will dry as well as de-frizz.
For afro curls and chemically relaxed hair, I sought some advice from Robert – who is an expert in textured hair and also won Afro Hairdresser of the Year 2019.
“To curve chemically relaxed hair, the Volumiser will definitely help give some shape,” says Robert, “but we have additional Hot Tools such as the Evolve or Curl Bar that will achieve more definition.”
“Many clients find it difficult to tame and smooth curls and texture while coordinating a brush and drier; here’s where the Volumiser makes things a lot easier and adds volume too.”