Washing your hair is considerably more daunting when you know you’ll have to spend a chunk of time waiting for it to dry. If your hair is slow-drying, you might spend far too long in an uncomfortable position with a hair dryer or diffuser. Or you might not even bother, instead suffering through a drippy, damp back for the morning or afternoon.
In fact, hair that takes a long time to dry can lead people to wash their hairless often. “Most of my clients with curly hair tend to avoid wash day because of the slow drying process,” says curly hair specialist and hairstylist Tiffany Minyon. We spoke with Minyon and hairstylist Leigh Hardges to learn why, exactly, your hair might take forever to dry and how you can help speed up the process. Read on for what they told us.
Why Does My Hair Take So Long to Dry?
Most of us typically don’t go in-depth when thinking about our hair. We likely know if it’s thick or thin, but we might not be aware of numerous other factors. Let’s look at what those are and how they impact the drying time of your hair.
Whether your hair is thick or thin is the most obvious reason it will take more or less time to try. Thicker hair is larger—strand by strand—than thinner hair. As such, each piece has more weight and will, therefore, need more time to dry.
It’s Low Porosity
Hair porosity also affects drying time. High-porosity hair dries faster because water enters and exits it more easily. Conversely, low-porosity hair is much harder to saturate, and once wet, it holds on more strongly to the water. “Low porosity hair takes forever to dry,” Hardges tells us. “These strands that are coarser (meaning large in strand diameter) and really hold onto water.”
It’s Curly or Coily
The curlier your hair, the longer it may take to dry. Minyon tells us that’s because “airflow from a hair blow dryer moves through straight to wavy hair strands with ease.” That’s not the case with curls, though. “Curls and coils have circular movements that create twists and turns in the hair strands, slowing down the airflow,” she says. While straight and wavy hair will likely have a shorter drying time, curly and coily hair will take longer.
Oddly enough, you may think you have thick hair when really your hair has a high density. That’s what happened to me when I first went to a curly hair specialist for a cut: She explained that my hair strands were actually on the thinner side, but my hair was quite dense, making it appear very thick. The more density your hair has, the longer the drying time. “Very dense hair takes a really long time to dry because there are so many strands per square inch, and it doesn’t get much air,” explains Hardges.
Your Hydration and Product Application
How wet your hair is when you begin the drying process after toweling it off, as well as how much product you’ve applied to it, can also be factors. “The amount of water and product applied to the hair can affect drying time,” Minyon says. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Slow drying is actually a sign of healthy hair,” she says. “Well-moisturized hair holds curls better.”
How to Dry Your Hair Faster
Now that you understand why your hair takes so long to dry, you’re probably wondering if anything can be done about it. Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks that can help you speed up your drying time.
Saturate and Shape
This one is especially for the curly and coily folks: It may sound counterintuitive, but you actually want your hair to be very wet when you add product. From there, how you place your curls into shape can also improve drying time. “Ensure the curls are thoroughly saturated with water before applying products,” Minyon recommends. Then, “spread the products evenly using techniques like prayer hands, scrunching, or finger-curling methods for better curl definition.” When she used this method on me, I noticed that it took a bit more time than I was used to spending on my curls, but the drying time was shorter, and my curls had incredible definition.
Air Dry Before Hitting the Heat
If your hair is shorter, you probably won’t need this step, but if it has length to it, it’s worth taking the extra time to hang out and air dry before using a diffuser or dryer. “Allow mid-length to longer curls to air dry until they are slightly damp before using a diffuser,” advises Minyon. “This helps keep curl pattern and structure.”
Use a Quick-Dry Spray
There are products made specifically to speed up drying time. Hardges likes them and tells us they work well. “There are a ton of quick-dry products to help the hair dry faster, and yes, they really work,” she says. “Oribe Royal Blowout Spray ($69) and Color Wow Speed-Dry Spray ($24) are my favorites.”
Choose the Right Towel
Anyone who has made the switch from a regular hair towel to a microfiberone knows that the material you use for toweling off your hair makes all the difference. Hardges says the right towel can improve drying time, and you have choices beyond microfiber: “Hair can also be dried faster using a cotton t-shirt or specialty towels suited to absorb moisture and prevent frizz,” she tells us.
And Lastly, Be Patient
It’s important to remember that your hair taking time to dry is not at all a bad sign. While you can take steps to speed up the process, know that your hair is likely in a good state if it takes time to dry. “Slower drying indicates healthier hair, while quick drying might be signs of porous or slightly damaged hair,” explains Minyon. “Patience is key when blow drying curls and coils. For healthy curls, I say yes to the gentle drying process for the best results.”
The Final Takeaway
Your hair type is the chief indicator of its drying time, and there are several factors at play, including porosity, density, thickness, and curl pattern. For example, “fine hair with low density tends to dry more quickly, while thicker hair with medium to high density takes longer to dry,” says Minyon. The more slow-drying factors your hair has, the longer it will take to dry.
You can speed up the process by properly applying product, using a quick-dry spray, choosing the right towel material, and letting your hair air dry before using electric heat. These can all make for a faster wash day. It’s also important to remember that your hair being slow to dry is a sign of its health—so your problem is a good one.