The Hair Lab

Is Air Drying Hair Bad for it? What You Need to Know

If there’s one thing that’s certified bad news for our hair, it’s the heat. This we know. It is the reason why we limit the use of hair straighteners, use protecting sprays, and even go so far as to have cold showers. Dull strands, dry texture and split ends are the red flags we usually associate with heat damage. It therefore seems logical to avoid all sources of heat to protect our hair as much as possible, including the hair dryer. However, with more people questioning whether air drying hair is bad for it, it seems that there could be an exception. We can all agree that our strands appreciate a break from the straighteners, but is using the hairdryer actually better than letting our hair dry naturally?

Keep reading to reveal the question: Is airdrying hair bad for it?

Is it bad to air dry your hair?

The majority of us are aware of the damage heat causes to the hair. However, what we may not know about is the damage caused by water. This damage is the reason that people are beginning to wonder if it is bad to air dry your hair.

When our hair is wet, our hair fibers swell and become weaker. Therefore, the longer our hair is left wet, the longer the fibers are swollen. The longer the fibers are swollen, the more pressure that is put on the delicate proteins inside our hair. The hairdryer ultimately speeds up the de-swelling process, which is why air drying hair can technically be bad for it.

Can air drying hair be worse for different hair types?

There are some hair types that take longer to dry than others, which is all down to your hair’s porosity level. High porosity means that your hair strands can easily absorb water but also do not retain it very well. This type of hair usually dries quite quickly. On the other hand, low porosity means the strand is packed tightly together so it’s more difficult for products and water to be absorbed. However, once that water is absorbed, like after a long shower, the hair will take a longer amount of time to dry. To find out more about where your strands lie on this porous scale, you can read our guide on Hair Porosity and Recommended Products.

If you’ve established your hair has a low porosity, you should be particularly conscious that it can be bad to air dry your hair all of the time. What’s more, watch out for wetting your hair daily. The constant swelling and de-swelling of the fibers along with the weight of wet hair can cause strands to stretch and lose their elasticity. This results in breakage.

How to air dry hair to reduce damage

Having said all of this, air drying is beneficial to those with high porosity, colored hair. This is because a heat-free drying method can maintain colored treated hair much better since heat can strip the hair of its vibrancy.

Therefore, the way how to air dry hair for the least amount of damage is to begin when the hair is damp. Air drying hair can be bad for the hair if its dried straight from the point of being soaking wet. This means you should first towel dry it, absorbing as much water as possible by gently squeezing it all out then using a scrunching method with a micro-fiber towel.

The second way to air dry hair with least amount of damage is to watch how you brush it. As the hair is at its most delicate when wet, you should be extra careful when detangling any knots, using gentle brushing strokes and starting from the ends, working upwards.

Air drying vs Hair drying

air drying tip

As we have seen, both air drying and hair drying have their pros and cons, so the best approach is to reap the benefits of both. Depending on your hair type, you should allow your hair to air dry for a certain amount of time and finish off with a hairdryer at a low heat. Curly haired girls may want to leave their hair to air dry for a little longer while applying a heat protectant spray as this type of hair can be extra sensitive to heat.

Wavy or straight haired girls, to air dry your hair with as little damage as possible, allow it to dry for about half an hour before using heat. If your particularly concerned about damaged hair, try a Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner such as The Repair Duo which is expertly curated to nourish and strengthen damaged hair leaving it supple, revitalized and feeling stronger.

To conclude, is air drying bad for the hair? The answer is that everything is best in moderation. Too much air drying, just as with too much heat, can put pressure on your tresses. To avoid this, use a nourishing shampoo and conditioner for damage concerns, know how to air dry the hair properly, and finish with a low-heat for those salon silky strands.

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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an Online Beauty Editor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Her passions involve all things skincare and beauty and in her free time she likes to travel, read and get her beauty sleep.