Woman blow-drying her shoulder-length hair in the bathroom.

What you do with your hair right after showering has a significant impact on its health. Do you air-dry your mane or blast it with a blow dryer immediately? The au naturel route seems like the better option, given that prolonged heat styling can result in , , and . But recently, there has been a debate over whether air-drying is better for the hair than blow-drying. Keep scrolling for the full comparison.

What Air-Drying Does to Your Hair

If your hair feels and looks like straw even though you rarely use heat on it, a phenomenon called hygral fatigue might be the culprit. This can happen when you leave your hair wet overnight, or when you air-dry it regularly.

Here’s what happens: Your hair has layers and the outermost one (the cuticle) acts like a sponge. When it gets wet, it swells to let moisture reach the cortex – the middle layer that’s responsible for giving hair its shape and texture. As the water evaporates, the cuticle slowly contracts and returns to its normal state.

Naturally, the whole process is not a cause for concern. But if it happens repeatedly, it may strain the structure that keeps the cuticle’s coating intact, weakening it over time. Additionally, hair is very fragile while wet. Brushing, styling, or raking your fingers through it can lead to breakage. This is also why it’s a bad idea to as the friction between the strands and the can lead to tangled strands.

Does Blow-Drying Damage Hair?

Heat damage is the main downside of blow-drying your hair. High temperatures create tiny cracks in the cuticles, which makes your tresses more porous and unable to retain moisture effectively. This can lead to dull and . In extreme cases, people who blow-dry their hair too often notice their strands get noticeably thinner over time.

All these facts seem to point out that air-drying is the best approach for your hair. However, a study in South Korea reveals that while blow-drying causes more , it doesn’t harm the cell membrane complex located between the hair cuticle and cortex. The research concludes that using a hair dryer at a distance of at least six inches with low heat and continuous motion is better than drying hair naturally.

How to Dry Hair Fast and Safely

Both air-drying and blow-drying can damage your hair if not done properly. Whichever method you choose, try to cut down your drying time and minimize the negative effects. Here’s how.

1. Moisturize with conditioner.

Drying your hair, whether with or without a blow dryer, strips moisture from your strands. To counteract this, the first thing you should do after shampoo is . It closes the cuticles, sealing in hydration to make your hair softer and shinier.

Conditioner also temporarily refortifies your hair with a protective coating, so it doesn’t break easily. Choose a product that can nourish and hydrate at the same time, like Cream Silk Vitamin Boost Standout Straight. Enriched with Pro-Vitamin B5 and , it helps revitalize and strengthen hair, and it makes locks 10x straighter.

2. Towel-dry first.

It can take a while to completely dry your wet hair, especially if you choose to leave it be. Save a few extra minutes by gently squeezing out excess water with a towel. Don’t rub your strands vigorously or you’ll end up with more frizz and damage. If you have , plop your curls on top of your head and wrap them with a towel. Wait at least 20 minutes before diffusing or air-drying.

3. Prep your hair.

If your hair takes way too long to air-dry, chances are it has . Try the LCO (Liquid, Cream, and Oil) method to help lock in moisture into your mane and speed up the drying process.

Start by applying a water-based leave-in conditioner or hair mist. Then, follow up with a hair cream. Finally, use TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum, which has a blend of keratin and marula oil. It detangles, boosts shine, tames frizz, and smooths out flyaways.

If you have high porosity hair, which means it's easier for your strands to absorb and lose water, just swap the order of cream and oil. Don’t forget to spritz a generous amount of heat protectant spray before blow-drying your tresses.

Should you air-dry or blow-dry your hair? It all boils down to your preference because both have pros and cons. If you’re in a hurry, it’s okay to use a hair dryer as long as you use low heat and keep the nozzle moving. Better yet, select the cold air setting, which is basically like air-drying, only much faster.