Air dry vs blow-dry? Which one is better? There is a huge number of misconceptions about air-dried hair. Some of them concern the proper way to air dry hair, while others question whether is better to blow dry or air dry hair.
If air-drying intrigues you too, then continue reading and find out should you let your hair air dry or not.
Air-dried vs blow-dried hair
Let us start with the basics. Your hair consists of the protein called keratine and cuticles. As long as those cuticles remain healthy without huge amounts of moisture soaking in, your hair is shiny and strong. Moreover, if the hair follicle is healthy at its root, then your hair grows thick and strong. However, if your scalp is not healthy in any way, having healthy hair is out of the question.
You can have a damaged hair follicle if you tie your hair too often and too strong with elastic bands or when it is dry or wet for longer periods of time. The signs of damaged hair are hair loss, breakage, split ends, hair feels like a straw, etc.
So when you air-dry or blow-dry your hair, you damage it in some way. For example, when you air dry hair, the problem is not the air-drying process itself. The problem is the damage excessive moisture leaves on your hair. Namely, during air drying, you tie sections of your wet hair in a ponytail while air drying other sections. Excessive amounts of moisture, as well as all the brushing and towel rubbing, harms hair.
On the other hand, when you blow-dry hair, you brush it too hard as well as overheat it. All of these actions lead to dry hair and scalp. By blow-drying your hair, you are removing all the moisture which ultimately causes hair to break and weaken.
Is it better to blow dry or air dry hair?
It is true that blow-drying is bad for your hair and it causes damage. But in these busy times, not everyone has the time to dry their hair naturally, without the help of modern tools. But guess what! It seems like air dying is not as good as we thought it was. Experts say that while blow-drying causes more damage to the hair surface, air-drying causes more damage deeper within the hair structure. The inside of the hair called the cortex swells when it is exposed to water for a long time.
If you are using the right techniques, blow dryers can be much better and healthier, than drying your hair naturally.
It is important to understand the hair anatomy in order to answer the question is it better to blow dry or air dry hair.
Strands of your hair are basically “tubes” with an inner cortex and outer layer that have a protective role. These shingle-like structures are called cuticles. Proteins hold them together. When this cuticle layer is completely unbroken, your hair is healthy. It looks shiny, and it is not prone to breakage.
The truth is, too much heat can damage the cuticle because it traps the water inside the cortex, and it causes that water to boil. So, the heat breaks down the cuticle, making your hair rough and dull and more susceptible to damage. Also, heat can cause your hair to lose moisture faster than it can be reabsorbed from the air, leaving your hair breakable and fragile. Finally, when your hair is wet, the fibers swell; when you dry it too quickly, the fibers contract, causing cuticles to crack.
Should I air dry my hair or blow dry it?
With everything discussed so far, it is easy to conclude that air drying might be better for you. However, surprisingly, this is not the case. Different studies showed that the heat of a blow dryer can cause more damage, but the correct way of using a hairdryer (proper distance, proper temperature – see below) will cause LESS damage than letting your hair air dry.
When hair is in contact with water, it swells. Air drying takes two hours or more, and during that time more pressure is being put on exquisite proteins, and this leads to more damage. Hair strands can in fact swell due to steady, prolonged water exposure.
If you constantly let your hair stay wet, instead of minimizing damp hair time, eventually it will become weak and thin. Some studies showed that hair that is left to dry naturally has excessive damage to the cell membrane complex, the cement that holds cuticle layers together. On the other hand, hair that is blow-dried – did not show that kind of damage.
Blow-drying can also give you a more controlled style. Many will disagree, but good-looking hair sometimes is as important as healthy hair. If you have (relatively) healthy hair, which is not actually good looking then you are not achieving much.
Should I air dry my hair? — Final verdict
So the best way to dry your hair, after all, is to use a blow dryer. But, there are rules you should follow if you want to avoid damaging your hair and if you want to keep it as healthy and shiny as you can. So, now we will provide you with a formula for drying your hair in the healthiest way possible.
How to dry hair in a healthy way
Firstly, do not dry hair that is completely wet. When it is wet, hair is extremely prone to damage. It is full of water and its tensile strength is depleted until it is dry. So, be more than gentle with your hair when it’s wet. Wrap it in a cotton shirt or scarf in order for it to absorb the water. Also, do not aggressively rub wet hair with a towel. This kind of friction can cause serious damage. It is much better to gently squeeze the moisture out of your hair, with a cotton towel or even a T-shirt that is much more gentle to the hair cuticle.
Then, set the lowest heat setting, put silicone-based leave-in on your hair length, and start drying your hair focusing on the roots. It is important to move as much water as you can using a towel because you should avoid drying excessively wet hair.
If you need to straighten your hair with the blow dyer do it when your hair is completely dry. Keep the blowdryer distanced from your hair length at least 5 cm for the finishing straghtening.
After a while, you can turn the hot air on, but remember – when you turn the hot air on be sure to hold the dryer around 15 cm away from your head and hair.
Of course, it is important to have in mind that both of these methods have their pros and cons. Air-drying has its own benefits. As mentioned, blow-drying can cause a certain amount of damage. If you, after all, decide to air dry your hair (it is easy to understand why one decides to do this during summer months), here are some pieces of advice for you – to keep your hair as healthy as you can and in order to avoid a messy, lifeless look.
Valuable advice for air drying
The greatest piece of advice we can give to you is the following. For an air-dried hair, don’t use a towel. Almost everyone tends to put hair in a towel the minute they step out of the shower, but if you want to avoid damaging your hair – think twice.
Drying your hair with a towel will bring you frizz and tangled hair. You should replace the towel with a cotton t-shirt, which has a much smoother and more absorbent approach. Then squeeze the moisture out of your hair very gently.
If you rub wet hair with a towel harshly, it creates friction. The friction deprives your hair of nutrients and leaves it brittle and prone to damage. This can cause split ends, and hair falling out, as well.
Wet hair is extremely vulnerable, it can be easily damaged, and it can easily break and tear. Therefore, if possible – avoid combing your hair while it is wet. In case you cannot avoid it, try using soft, no tangle brushes, such as no tangle brush or a tangle teezer.
Don’t forget to use hair care products. Even if you are not going to expose your hair to any heat, it is important not to forget to put protective and nutrient leave-in products. They will reduce frizz and unruliness. Silicones have the function of protecting hair from external conditions and retain moisture inside the hair. So silicones in the form of a silicone serum for the ends, a sprayer as well, as in treatments and conditioners are necessary for every haircare routine.
Lastly, avoid playing with your hair. Whatever you do, do not run your fingers through wet hair, and do not brush it excessively. It will cause frizz and make it vulnerable and prone to damage.
Protective hairstyles for air-dried hair
If your hair doesn’t look good and stylish without styling tools, this might be the time to try out the popular sock-buns, braids, fish bones and similar hairstyles that are good at protecting the hair from harmful external influences.
There are also ways to style your air-dried hair without using heat. You can get smooth waves and even curls. The easiest way to do so is to place chunks and clips all over your head and get amazing waves. Sock bun will give you a similar result. There’s also a way to get straight hair. One way is to divide damp hair into two sections, fasten them into low ponytails, and add hair elastics down to the length of each ponytail.
It is important to mention that you should never leave your house without drying your hair completely. This is extremely dangerous for your health, and not only for your hair. We are aware that drying long hair is demanding, it can take a lot of time, especially if you have seriously long and voluminous hair. But, once again – never leave the house with wet or damp hair.
Best styling products for air-dried hair
There is no denying that every woman wants to have silky smooth hair. That is why most of them use hot styling tools. However, no matter how straight or curly your hair is, chances are you still have to use some products to keep it smooth. To help you find the right styling product for your hair type, we have made a careful selection of some of the best styling products. So let us start!
Smoothing cream products for air-dried hair
One of the best smoothing cream products for severely damaged hair out there is Briogeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Cream. If you have damaged hair and still want to style it, you have to be extra careful. Too much heat can only damage it further and that is something you want to avoid. In case you asked yourself how to hydrate hair, this product is all you need for extra hydration. Three types of oil — rosehip, argan, and coconut keep your hair hydrated and smooth.
All those lovers of organic products should put EvolvH SuperFinish Polishing Balm on their shopping lists. The product does not contain any silicones. To give your hair the moisture and hydration it needs, this balm contains soy bran lipids and jojoba oil. Additionally, this organic formula straightens and strengthens your hair without making it feel heavy or greasy.
For those with fine hair, Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment is a must. We know how hard it can be to find the perfect product for fine hair. The product that will not make your hair flat or greasy. This treatment is a multifunctional one. Not only does it smooths, hydrate, and strengthens your hair, but it also adds volume fine hair desperately needs.
Oil for straightening hair
If you have curly hair, then you know how tiring straightening this hair type can be. However, with SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Finishing Oil Serum, it does not have to be. Coconut milk and oil as ingredients protect, hydrate, and make your hair shiny despite the high temperatures of hot styling tools.
We hope you have learned a thing or two about air-dried hair and now you can decide whether it is good for your hair type or not.