The Top Ways To Dry Your Hair To Prevent Damage

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Drying your hair is not only part of your daily routine but knowing the top way to dry your hair after a shower is key to having a good hair day. 

The top way to dry long hair or coarse hair may not be similar or as easy as drying thin or short hair. 

Since not all hair is created equal, knowing your hair type, and drying it the right way ultimately makes it more manageable and healthy.

A woman in a towel is touching her long wet hair in front of a mirror.

How do you dry your hair? Are there ways to minimize hair damage and breakage?

First things first, how can washing hair impact its quality or make it more prone to damage?

We are so excited to discuss with you the top ways to dry hair, especially the top way to dry hair after a shower, and some of the most important rules of hair care when it comes to hair drying.

How Does Water Impact Your Hair?

You know water is good for cleaning your hair, right? 

But did you know that water can be absorbed into your hair and cause damage, the longer it lingers?

Water can damage the hair’s cortex, resulting in brittle hair strands and flyaways. 

Here’s an important thing you need to remember: wet hair is not as strong as dry hair.

But why is wet hair weaker?

Hair is weak when it is wet because water causes keratin (the building blocks of your hair) to form weaker hydrogen bonds.

Keratin plays an important role in keeping hair strong, flexible, and healthy, overall. It is safely secured within cuticles, which serve as their outer core and the protective wall of the hair shaft. 

The cuticle is typically resistant because it protects the hair cortex. But when hair gets wet, some of the water goes into the cortex, bypassing the cuticle.

Compared to dry hair which has stronger protein-protein bonds, wet hair is more prone to damage due to the weaker bonds of proteins. It is more susceptible to breakage when stretched, bent, pulled, or mishandled. 

You need to be very gentle when handling wet hair to prevent damaging it.

Different Ways To Dry Your Hair

An infographic featuring the best ways to dry your hair such as air drying, blow-drying, hair flopping with a shirt or towel, and drying your hair with a diffuser and their descriptions

The top ways to dry hair include: air-drying, blow-drying, towel-drying, plopping your hair with the use of a T-shirt or microfiber towel, and using a diffuser. 

Drying your hair naturally or using a towel seems instinctive. These are popular ways to dry hair. 

But using a hair dryer can speed up the process of removing water from your hair, making it perfect for people in a hurry. On the downside, heat has a significant impact on your hair and can damage it long-term.

So how should you dry your hair properly? Let’s take a closer look at all the top ways to dry hair.

Method No. 1: Air-Drying

What Is Air-Drying?

To air-dry means to dry hair naturally (using air) and without the use of a hair dryer. When air-drying, you don’t use any heating tools such as a hair dryer to dry your hair.

How Long Does It Take to Air Dry Hair?

This will depend on the type of hair you have. How to dry long hair, coarse hair, or thick hair often varies compared to drying short or thin hair.

Drying long hair could easily take 2 to 3 hours, whereas it could only take up to 30 minutes to 1 hour to air-dry short hair. 

Generally, in thin or short hair, there’s little moisture that needs to evaporate, so the hair will dry up faster.

Who Can Benefit From Air Drying?

If you have wavy, curly, straight, thin, fine, or dyed hair, you will benefit from air-drying your hair. 

Not subjecting your hair to heat when it is wet is healthier for your hair because it causes hair to return to its original texture as soon as it’s dry.

Can Air-Drying Be Bad For Your Hair?

Air-drying means your hair gets to hold moisture/water for a longer time. The longer your hair retains water, the more harmful it is for your hair over time.  

Drying your hair naturally is not necessarily bad for your hair, but there are pros and cons. One benefit is that you will prevent hair damage from heat.

On the flip side, you can still damage your hair the longer it stays wet as moisture can make your hair’s cortex swell and cause hair to break easily

Tip: How to Prevent Frizz When You Air-Dry Hair

Frizzy hair is fairly common, but it is one of the things we wish to avoid at all costs. Frizzy hair can sometimes be a sign that you are shampooing your hair excessively.

If it happens to you, it may be a good thing to just shampoo your hair every other day or lessen the frequency of using shampoo.

Using a thin-tooth comb or brush is also not very helpful for frizzy hair. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to untangle those knots on your hair.

Finally, lessen drying your hair with a regular bath towel as this can be harsh on wet hair. Use a microfiber towel instead to get rid of excess water, and dab it gently instead of twisting it on your hair.

Method No. 2: Towel-Drying

What Is Towel Drying?

Towel-drying can be one of the top ways to dry hair. It is using a towel to dry your wet hair, which seems instinctive to most.

But using the right kind of towel or material can make towel-drying either bad for your hair or good for keeping your hair strong and healthy.

You learned how wet hair is more prone to breakage and damage. So when towel-drying your hair with a regular bath towel, avoid putting more friction or rubbing the towel on your wet hair.

How Using a Regular Towel Can Damage Wet Hair

A regular towel is typically made of terry cloth. This material can be very abrasive when used on wet hair, especially when friction is applied through rubbing.

This abrasive material can raise the cuticle on your hair and further cause friction, making hair more prone to breakage. 

When the cuticle is raised, this will also make your hair look more frizzy, especially when you do not apply additional hair products such as hair cream or moisturizer.

How To Towel-Dry Your Hair Without Damaging It

Use a soft microfiber towel instead of the regular bath towel to dry your hair properly and healthily.

Follow these tips:

  1. When you’re done washing your hair, squeeze out excess water from your hair, beginning from your scalp and moving down to the tips.

    Although your hair will still be slightly wet or damp, this stops water from dripping. 
  1. Next, gather sections of your hair and gently use a soft microfiber towel to blot them. Avoid rubbing your hair with the towel. Gently squeeze it instead. 
  1. If you have long hair, it’s best to wrap your hair with a soft microfiber towel to dry your damp hair. 

    You may leave your hair wrapped in the towel for 20 minutes or until it dries up.

Benefits of Towel-Drying

When you dry your hair the right way using the right kind of towel, this can significantly impact your hair’s health in the following ways:

  • It saves your hair from heat damage. Towel-drying your hair means making use of natural air to dry your hair without exposing your hair to heat, which can cause long-term hair damage.
  • It lessens the use of hairstyling products. Your hair can benefit from minimal use of hairstyling products as these can accumulate and unnecessarily build up on your scalp, leading to scalp issues.
  • It puts less friction on your hair. When you use a soft microfiber towel and avoid rubbing it on your hair, it creates less friction. This is very healthy for your hair in the long run.

Method No. 3: Blow-Drying

The back of a young woman blow drying hair in bathroom

What Is Blow-Drying?

Blow-drying involves the use of a blow dryer and heating tools on your hair to dry and style it. This hair-drying technique also comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Benefits of Blow-Drying

  • It makes your hair easier to style. Heat styling or using a blow dryer is known to cause damage to the hair, but the reason it is so popular and still widely practiced is it makes your hair a lot easier to manage and style.

    Blow-drying gives you more control over your hair, compared to natural air, where you usually get unpredictable results on your hair once it dries up. 
  • It can dry up your hair faster than air can. If you need to dry your hair faster, a blow dryer can do the job very efficiently. It helps when you’re in a rush or when you need to dry your hair faster before you sleep at night.

    A blow dryer can help you avoid sleeping with wet hair, which is healthier for your hair. Sleeping with wet hair makes your hair very prone to breakage and damage.
  • It can give your hair a better look. Drying your hair with a blow dryer gives you more manageable hair that can be styled any way you like. It enhances your hair’s overall appearance, giving you shinier, smoother hair with less frizziness and more volume.

How Blow-Drying Can Damage Your Hair

  • It can damage your hair’s texture. A blow dryer should be used moderately and properly as it can easily damage your hair’s texture. It makes hair look dry and rough, instead of smooth and shiny.
  • It can burn your hair and your scalp. Use a blow dryer carefully, and don’t overdo it. It can get very hot and can boil your hair and burn your scalp if not used properly.
  • It can weaken your hair follicles. Strong hair follicles are key to healthy hair. But when you misuse the blow dryer, it can not only weaken the hair follicles but completely damage them, which leads to hair loss.

How To Dry Hair Using a Blow Dryer Without Causing Damage

Using a blow dryer the right way is important to prevent hair damage. Here are important tips on how to dry your hair using a blow dryer without damaging it.

  • Use a heat-protectant spray or serum to minimize hair damage. Before using a blow dryer for your hair, use a heat-protectant spray or a hair conditioner that can prevent thermal damage to your hair.

    If too much heat is applied to your hair, this will not only damage the hair shaft. It will make your hair more prone to breakage. This will also dry out your hair’s natural oils.
  • Use the cool air setting/option in your hair dryer to keep heat to a minimum. Too much heat from your blow dryer is enough to burn your hair and scalp, so keep heat to a minimum. Use the cool air setting or option, if possible.
  • Try the “rough dry” technique. Leave your hair to dry naturally first, and when it is not so damp anymore, simply blow-dry the roots of your hair. Only use your fingers with this method if you’re styling your hair.

Method No. 4: Hair Plopping With a Shirt

Drying your hair with a shirt is a hair-drying technique known as hair plopping. 

This technique involves the use of a cotton T-shirt (or a pillowcase or microfiber towel) to dry curly or wavy hair. 

Hair plopping helps you cut down drying time for your hair and requires no heat, which makes it a healthier hair drying method for wavy or curly hair types.

How to Dry Your Wavy/Curly Hair With a Shirt

  1. Use a 100% cotton T-shirt. Alternatively, you can also use a microfiber towel or a pillowcase.
  1. Once you’re done washing your hair, apply hairstyling products such as a leave-in conditioner or hair cream.
  1. Lay your cotton shirt on a flat surface, with the neck hole facing toward you. 
  1. Bend your head down and flip your hair over the shirt / pillowcase / microfiber towel. Gather your hair at the center.
  1. If you use a shirt, grab the bottom of it and fold it over your head until it reaches your nape. Then twist the sleeves all over your hair and put everything on top of your head.
  1. If you are using a microfiber towel, twist the sides of the towel instead, and tie them all up at the top of your head with a knot. Tuck any excess fabric underneath.
  1. Now lift your head back up and leave your hair plopping for at least 10 to 20 minutes.

Benefits of Plopping Your Hair

Ladies with curly, wavy, or coily hair will benefit from hair plopping the most.

Twisting your hair up with a shirt or microfiber towel can help to keep your curl pattern without disrupting the hair’s volume and shine when it dries up.

This is because hair plopping lifts your roots and dries them up from the top. Although hair plopping can be done by other hair types, people with curly or wavy hair will benefit from it the most.

For people with tighter curls or even coils, twisting your hair or braiding it before wrapping the hair with a shirt or towel is best to mitigate any loss of definition or the tangles that comes with plopping.

Method No. 5: Drying Your Hair With a Diffuser

Ladies with curly, wavy, or coily hair will benefit the most from using a diffuser to dry hair.

A diffuser is a hair dryer attachment that you can slide into your hair dryer’s nozzle. 

It works by dispersing the air when the blow dryer is used, reducing hair frizz and minimizing disruption in your hair’s natural wavy pattern.

Blow-drying your curly or wavy hair without a diffuser can easily turn curls out of shape, creating frizzy hair.

Getting the most out of your diffuser would mean using low heat and its speed settings correctly to keep your hair from tangling.

How To Dry Your Hair With A Diffuser

  1. First things first, hydrate your hair while in the shower using a conditioner right after shampooing your hair.
  1. While in the shower, gently detangle your hair using a wide-tooth comb to smoothen hair knots without breaking them.

    When you comb out curly hair after they have dried, it causes hair to frizz and ruins your natural curls. It’s always best to detangle curls gently while in the shower.
  1. Once out of the shower, wrap your hair with a shirt or a microfiber towel. Do not forget to squeeze out any excess water.
  1. Apply hair mousse, hair cream, or hair conditioner to hydrate those dry curls. You can choose to twirl wet curly hair around your finger to enable it to hold its shape.
  1. Before using the hair diffuser, make sure to use a heat protectant. This places a barrier between your hair and the heat to protect your hair from damage.

    After applying a hair protectant, you may now turn on the diffuser and put it on low heat.
  1. Always point the airflow upward to help stabilize the diffuser over the nozzle.
  1. Start drying your hair from the tip, moving upward until you reach the roots of your hair.

    Diffusing hair up to 80% dry and letting it dry naturally toward the end is best for giving your hair that bouncy finish and making your hair look hydrated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is the Top Way to Dry Hair? Air Drying or Blow Drying?

Drying your hair naturally is still healthier as this method prevents hair damage from heat. 

However, blow drying could speed up the evaporation process and remove water from your hair faster, so it is also beneficial in that sense.

It would be best to combine both methods. Dry your hair naturally to rid hair of excess water. And then use a blow dryer at minimum heat to prevent hair damage.

Do not forget to use a heat protectant at all times when you use a blow dryer. This helps to protect your hair against heat damage.

What Happens If I Don’t Dry My Hair?

The longer your hair stays wet, the more harmful it is to your hair’s cortex. But it’s also important to note that not all hair is the same.

Thick hair can absorb more water and be more prone to damage. Whereas thin hair is less likely to absorb water and also less likely to become damaged, compared to thick hair.

So either dry it naturally, blow-dry it, or use a combination of both to have healthy and strong hair.

How Can I Dry My Hair Faster Without Heat?

There are a few things you can do to dry your hair faster without using a blow dryer or any heat. 

  • First, always comb some conditioner on your hair while it is still wet.
  • Second, when you pat your hair dry, use a microfiber towel instead of a regular bath towel. A microfiber towel is gentler on your wet hair and comes with less friction, making it less prone to damage.
  • Third, use a wide-tooth comb to separate some hair strands and create some airflow. This will also help dry your hair faster without using a blow dryer.

What Happens If I Sleep With Wet Hair?

Sleeping with wet hair is not advisable. Your pillow can easily damage your wet hair and make it prone to breakage.

Another thing is that this makes bacteria and mold thrive on your scalp. There’s no airflow, and your head is pressed against the pillow.

Aside from hair damage and hair breakage, sleeping with wet hair can easily cause itchiness, dandruff, and other scalp infections. 

Here’s a Bonus Hair Drying Hack For You

Now that you’ve learned the different hair-drying methods to help you maintain strong and healthy hair, here’s something that you might also want to know: washing your hair every day is not necessary. 

A woman in a towel  standing in front of a shower is touching her long hair

You can wash your hair every other day or use a dry shampoo some days instead. This way, you don’t always have the dilemma of drying your hair and risking more damage.

Your hair will also retain more natural oils and be less stressed, compared to when you wash it daily. 

Follow these top hair-drying techniques to maintain strong and healthy hair. And you’re bound to have more good hair days coming your way!

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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