Ensuring that your hair dries fully in a day’s time is vital for ensuring that mold doesn’t develop. Each person has a different way of making sure that happens. Some people like air drying. Some blow dry. Some hood dry. Some even dry their hair halfway with a dryer, then air dry the rest. Whatever method you use, the important part is that your locks aren’t wet for too long.
Locks that are kept perpetually damp ultimately run a higher risk for developing mildew. In ideal conditions, mildew can form in just 24 hours of exposure to moist environments. In homes, foods, cosmetics, and even laboratory environments, water is generally understood to be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria — so the longer your hair is wet, the more time bacteria has to get cozy and multiply.
Additionally, repeatedly sleeping with damp hair can be a cause of flattened locks. The loose hairs in immature locks can be trained to mat in a flat formation when left perpetually damp. This is because the keratin proteins in each hair strand can be trained to hold certain positions when dampened and left to dry. Therefore, sleeping on a spongiform (unsolid) lock can flatten it, and the dampness of the lock can train the hairs to hold that flat position.
Blow drying is completely optional, and in many cases, it’s actually completely unnecessary! Many people live in places where their hair will dry quickly just by walking around the house or going outside for one or two hours. Air drying is ideal, because it subjects your hair to far less risk than blow drying with heat.
There are many ways to air dry hair. The simplest way to do it is to let your locks hang down and dry on their own.
However, that can take a while without some help. So here are some tips to air dry faster:
- Wring excess water out of your locks before exiting the shower.
- Use a microfiber towel for maximum absorption. (Bath towels work too but can leave lint behind.)
- Wash your hair early in the day so it is exposed to warmer daylight temperatures.
- Leave your hair hanging down. Hats, ponytails, and braids can slow down the drying process significantly.
There are also many situations where blow drying your hair with heat is nearly necessary. This is especially true for those that live in cold or humid climates, whose locks take more than a day to dry all the way through. That doesn’t mean blow drying isn’t without its risks though.
Blow drying too long can deplete your hair of water that would have otherwise been keeping your hair well-moisturized! This can happen with any temperature of blow drying, so try to blow dry for as short a time as possible.
High heat settings on blow dryers are even more dangerous. Water that’s heated extremely fast causes rapid expansion of water within the hair shaft that ultimately explodes outward as it turns into steam. This ultimately leaves a hole in your hair shaft and causes permanent damage to the hair cuticles that would otherwise keep your hair more hydrated.
Of course this is an extreme example, and there are safe ways to blow dry your hair. Blow drying on cold or low heat significantly reduces the amount of damage done. Another great alternative is drying with a hood dryer, which is low-heat with high distribution (rather than the concentrated heat emitted by blow dryers). Make sure to move handheld blow dryers all over your head so the heat doesn’t get concentrated in one spot.
A popular option is to blow dry locks so they are halfway or mostly dry, then air dry the rest of the day. This speeds up the drying process without subjecting hair to excessive heat exposure.