Jc of The Natural Haven
Air drying hair without doubt is the least damaging way to dry your hair. The problem many naturals have with it is that it can take forever and a day (literally) especially as hair gets longer or if you have thick hair (whole head not individual strand). Here are some tips and tricks for you on how to get your hair to air dry super fast before you reach for the hair dryer:
1. Do not immediately apply a leave in or other finishing product to soaking wet hair
If you want your hair to dry fast, do not apply a ‘sealing’ product to soaking wet hair. You will need to first dry off any excess water from your hair. The oils leave ins and other finishing product form a layer around the hair and prevent/retard the loss of water from the surface of hair. Moisturising i.e trapping the moisture inside the hair strand, will be just as, if not more effective when you remove some of the water on the surface (meaning apply product to damp rather than soaking wet hair).
2. The old cotton t-shirt tip
Getting your hair from the wet stage to the damp state is easy. Instead of a traditional towel, find an old 100% cotton t-shirt or buy a high absorbency microfiber towel. These will soak up more water and as the surface of the cloth is smoother, there will be less friction between the cloth and your hair..
3. Gentle squeezing
The biggest mistake in drying is using a back and forth movement with your towel which causes more damage than if you simply followed the direction of the cuticle (i.e dry from root to tip and if you want to repeat, release and go back to the root. Also wrapping your whole head will help to get rid of dripping water but will not accelerate the drying process. You will need to instead wrap your t-shirt or towel around each section (if you section wash) and gently squeeze. You do not have to run the towel up and down the hair shaft, just squeeze, release and then move further down or to the next section. Always use dry portions of your towel or tshirt for maximum effectiveness. At the end of this stage you will be 50-60% dry and ready for sealing products.
4. Open up your hair
Hair in twists and braids is compact and will not dry quickly. Many naturals want to keep the twists and braids so as to decrease shrinkage and give the hair some stretch. To dry hair fast, each strand needs maximum exposure to air so unravelling twists or braids is necessary. It is possible to stretch free hair and control shrinkage with curlformers. Hair can dry fully within 3-4 hours with curlformers and no heat. Banding and African threading/Ghana braids can be used to stretch hair but will be less effective in terms of drying speed as they keep hair compact. Often hair will be dry within 6-8 hours (i.e overnight). Another option is to unravel the twist, dry the hair further as in step 3 and then retwist or rebraid. This unravelling/rebraiding needs to be repeated every 30 min-1 hour for faster drying.
If you want your hair dry in under an hour, the only option is to use a hair dryer, but going through the steps above before using the hair dryer will help to reduce the heat level and amount of time.