long red hair

Holiday Hair and the Nicky Clarke Smooth and Shine Frizz Control Hot Air Styler

Holiday hair: it’s when bad hair happens to good holidays. And in my case, it’s what happens on EVERY holiday, when the change in water/atmosphere combines with the heat and humidity (not to mention regular dousings in chlorine and salt water) to create the mother of all bad hair days. Holiday Hair is the reason I came up with my Messy Bunhead look. It’s also why I’m wearing a hat in so many of my recent vacation posts. It happens to me regardless of where I’m travelling to, or how long I’m staying, and I’ve been forced to come to the conclusion that my hair just doesn’t like change. I’m kinda nervous about how it’ll cope with the upcoming house move, actually (Oh, hey, did I mention I was moving house? Did I?). Maybe I should start looking for a hair therapist? Is that a thing? Because it should be.

This year, my Holiday Hair was even more out of control than it usually is, the reason being the layers I had cut into it last year. And also the growing-out fringe, which is at one of those AWKWARD stages. (Oh, who am I kidding? They’re ALL awkward stages when it comes to growing-out fringes, aren’t they?) Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the layers. But there’s no denying that they require a little more styling than my old, one-length style did. If I just tip my head upside down and rough-dry it, for instance, I end up with a choppy, raggedy mess, which I’ll normally just throw up in a (messy)bun(head) rather than trying to deal with it.

At home, this isn’t much of an issue, thanks to the love of my life, the Babyliss Big Hair Rotating Styler. Despite the name, this doesn’t give me “big hair” at all, but it does, thankfully, give me what passes for HUMAN hair, smoothing out the layers and generally creating the same kind of effect hair stylists get using a blow dryer and one of those giant bristle brushes. You know that technique they make look SO effortless, but which is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to recreate at home? The Big Hair does that.

I don’t take it with me on vacation, though, obviously. I mean, OF COURSE not: that would totally spoil all the fun I have wrestling my hair into a giant bunhead every day and whining endlessly about how I just. can’t. control. it. I did CONSIDER taking the Big Hair with me this year, but the thing is, it may be a miracle on a stick, but it’s kinda bulky and a bit too heavy for me to easily cram it into my suitcase with the 34,763 dresses I always pack. Why take it with me, after all, when I can spend every day of my trip wrestling with these guys instead:

stupid is as stupid does

Yeah, it’s a blow dryer and one of those giant bristle brushes. Because I NEVER LEARN. The blowdryer is generally provided by the hotel/rental home. The bristle brush I bought myself, in a fit of optimism, and after about a week of wrestling with the Bunhead and bemoaning the Holiday Hair situation. “It’ll be fine,” I told myself. “I mean, other people can do it: there’s no reason I can’t learn to do it, too!”

Yeah, not so much. Suffice to say that brush + blowdryer were not a success. I just can’t do it. Not for more than a couple of minutes, anyway, after which my arms get tired and my hair doesn’t look much better than when it started. Enter this guy, who is the actual point of this post. You knew I’d get there eventually, didn’t you?

Nicky Clarke Smooth and Shine Frizz Control Hot Air Styler

Nicky Clarke Smooth and Shine Frizz Control Hot Air Styler

Nicky Clarke Smooth and Shine Frizz Control Hot Air Styler

This is the Nicky Clarke Smooth and Shine Frizz Control Hot Air Styler, and it’s what I SHOULD have packed for my vacation, because it’s basically a blow dryer AND a giant bristle brush in one. It comes with two sizes of brush, and it means that rather than trying to juggle the brush in one hand and the blow-dryer in the other, you can dry your hair AND style it with this single tool. Awesome.

Like the Babyliss Big Hair, this basically allows you to get the same kind of effect as a salon blow-out at home, smoothing and de-frizzing the hair, and generally making it look that little bit more polished. Unlike the Babyliss product, however, the brush head doesn’t rotate, and that’s my only criticism of it, because it makes it that little bit harder to get the hang of. Once you do, though (and honestly, if I can do it, anyone can), it’s well worth the effort, and the technique becomes second nature, in a way that the ol’ brush n’ blower never has for me.

I don’t use this to totally dry my hair from scratch. You CAN do that, and if you have short, or medium-length hair, I’m sure that would be totally do-able. Because of the length of my hair, though, it would take me WAY more time than I’m ever willing to spend on my hair (I’ve tried drying my hair from wet with my Babyliss Big Hair, and it takes at least an hour), so instead I use my regular blow-dryer to quickly blast my hair until it’s just a little bit damp, then all I need to do is run this through the layers to smooth them out a little. Yes, that means I’m still using two different styling tools, but as I said, in my case that’s down to sheer impatience, plus the amount of hair I have: less hair, or more time, would allow me to use this on its own, and I’m sure I’d probably get better results from it that way, too.

Overall, I really like this, and I particularly like the fact that it comes with two sizes of brushes: I use the smaller one on my growing-out fringe and the larger one on the rest of my head. Because it’s pretty lightweight, it would be easy enough to take on vacation, too, so, you know, someone please remind me I said that, because I REALLY don’t want to have to deal with the Holiday Hair ever, ever again.

Want to try it? You can buy it here – don’t forget to come back and tell me what you thought!

hair styling brushes

[Disclosure: my styler was sent to me free of charge to review. All opinions are my own.]

Liked this post?? Take a second to support Amber on Patreon!
  • Today on the blog I’m reviewing the Nicky Clarke Frizz Control Hot Air Styler: http://t.co/sbkzDvjPJ6

    July 31, 2013
  • I can’t ever get my hair to look the way the stylist at the salon does it, and it is only being blow dried. I thought surely I was the only one who didn’t know how to use a blow dryer, happy I am not alone. This thing looks easy enough. 🙂

    July 31, 2013
  • Lindsay


    The styler is now on my shopping list. Always feel like shaving my head when I go on holiday, this looks like a better option.

    July 31, 2013
  • I might have to get one of these! I am currently trying to work with the worst haircut in history – the most delightful element is lots of very short, random layers on just one side of my head. Sigh. Anything that makes life more bearable while I a: grow it out and b: find a new hairdresser is welcome!
    Also, Amber your hair looks stunning in these pictures (not that I am at all jealous) 😀

    July 31, 2013
  • Ooh, I’m jealous. I use something like this but I haven’t been able to find one in the US that has a big barrel they’re all 1.5 inches (38mm) or smaller.

    Do you find that it blows less or doesn’t get as hot because of the barrel switching feature? Or is it about the same as the other one you’ve tried?

    July 31, 2013
  • Hi amber – quick question I have a short pixie cut and wonder would the babyliss or the Nicky Clarke be better for short hair? I want to create some volume on the top of my crown but do think the babyliss might be too big! Any advice? Ta x

    July 31, 2013
  • Thanks Amber – I’ll give it a go anything to get some volume! Cheers.

    July 31, 2013
  • Parlux blow dryer. Has transformed my mane. Totally recommend.

    July 31, 2013
  • I can NOT do the brush & blow dryer method. I am simply not talented enough to do it. The last time I tried, I somehow managed to get the brush knotted up halfway up my hair, to where it was sticking out SIDEWAYS from my head. I honestly thought it was going to have to be cut out, but with a lot of tears and my mom’s patience we got it out with minimal hair loss.

    I have been fascinated by the different “As Seen on TV” hair products that claim to be a blow dryer and round brush in one. I would love to try one, but having been scarred from my own experience am leery. So thanks for the review!

    August 1, 2013
  • Ooh I used to have one of these, I could never get the hang of brush plus blowdryer either! I was super handy for when I had my Rachel style layered look in high school 😉

    August 1, 2013
  • I used to use a hot brush back in my teens. I’m not sure why I stopped really because it was incredibly useful. Thanks for the review, Amber!

    August 1, 2013
  • hey amber…u r beautiful. i read ur post of tanning and in my country, the problem is reverse. I guess that they never leave women alone!!! no matter what u hv, u always have to be something else 🙁 ur blog is amazing. keep blogging!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    August 3, 2013
  • Jo W


    Hey Amber,
    I’m new to your blog (via a fellow redhead who follows you and happened to share your Trixie post) and I’ve just been scooting around checking out a few of your reviews and what-not (loving your style of writing, as well as your clothes, SHOES, makeup and hair!) and I came across this one and the one of the BABYLISS BIG HAIR ROTATING STYLER.
    My hair’s a bit shorter than yours, but still well below my shoulders. It has a curly/straight/frizzy/fluffy mind of its own and cannot, I repeat CANNOT be left to its own devices!
    I usually straighten it to make it look glossy, but I love the way it looks after my hairdresser has styled it with her big ol’ brush and hairdryer. Like you, though, I find it impossible to achieve myself – oh my aching arms!
    Anyhoooo, to get to the point… if you had to choose between these two stylers, which would you pick and why?
    Cheers muchly,

    May 4, 2014
      • Jo W


        Hi Amber, thanks very much for such a swift response. Great timing – I was literally just browsing Boots and reading all the reviews! In that case, I’ll give it a whirl (pardon the pun!). Thanks again 😀 x

        May 5, 2014