Is air-drying your hair really worse than a blow-dry?

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Science says yes.

    To blow-dry, or not to blow-dry. Frankly these are the big old question marks when it comes to healthy hair drying.

    You’re probably well aware that assaulting your hair with hot tools dries out strands and causes split ends.

    But what if we were to tell you that air-drying – that is, drying your hair at room temperature – could be more damaging than heat?

    According to the experts, it comes down to your hair’s response to being wet.

    When hair comes into contact with water, it swells and becomes weak. This, in turn, puts pressure on the delicate proteins keeping hair intact.

    ‘Hair can absorb up to 30 per cent of its own weight in water,’ explains Adam Reed, gHD global ambassador. ‘Natural drying takes time. The longer it stays wet, the more the cortex swells and cracks, permanently damaging hair.’

    Research at Yonsei University in Korea corroborates this. It also found that using the right technique when blow-drying is better for the health of your hair.

    Hair drying the right way

    First, towel dry your hair, blotting and squeezing the moisture out.

    Then use a low heat and speed setting on your hairdryer (the best hair dryers are the ones that have multiple speed and heat settings). You want to take it slow.

    Hold the hairdryer at a distance of 15cm, moving it around continuously, and always use heat protection sprays.

    Kérastase Discipline Fluidissime Spray, £22.30, Lookfantastic

    hair drying

    Buy it now

    ‘When you feel the hair heating up, move on to the next section,’ says Reed, who swears by the gHD Helios hairdryer. ‘Give strands a blast of cool air at the end to ensure the hair’s internal bonds are remade and the style is sealed in place.’

    gHD Helios Professional Hair Dryer, £159, Cult Beauty

    hair drying

    Buy it now

    For this reason, the only way to safely pull off air-drying is to sleep in a shower cap with a hair mask on. We recommend Olaplex Number 3.

    Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector, £26, Space NK

    hair drying

    Buy it now

    Voila – another beauty myth well and truly busted.

    Reading now

    Popular