One look at any hair care forum and you will find loads of ladies who are perplexed or frustrated by air drying. This is unfortunate as air drying is one of the best methods to retain length. I will even go so far as to say that I have rarely seen a relaxed sister who frequently blowdries on a hot setting retain anything beyond shoulder length.
Natural ladies fair much better, however even they can be subject to breakage due to overstretched, dessicated tresses. Air drying allows normalization of moisture levels as the cuticle and cortex do not have all the moisturization forced out of them with hot air. Further, air drying utilizes almost no stretching or manipulation – both of which can be extremely damaging.
Air drying is a learned skill, but once you have its secrets under your belt you will never turn back. You will find that the moisture and health you gain from air drying are things you won’t want to live without! With a little knowledge, you can put the days of puffy, A-frame style air dries to rest. Here are the facts every air drying diva should know:
1. The beneficial effects of air drying are cumulative. Over time you will see increased health. Do not give up after just one try.
2. Air dry on a lazy Sunday while kicking around the house or in the evening while doing chores or watching TV. This allows sufficient time to get a great result.
3. Wear an absorbent towel or t-shirt on the hair for a few minutes post-shower (BEFORE product application) to absorb excess water.
4. Product is important. You want to moisturize and seal while the hair is still damp. A moisturizer or nutritious leave-in sealed with a light oil smooths the cuticle and adds weight and moisturization.
5. Refrain from overloading the hair with too much product. Excess gels, mousses and foams can be drying and result in a hard, brittle airdry. They can also gunk up the hair and lead to an air dry that is weighed down and lifeless.
6. Make sure the hair is fully detangled. Strands that are bunched up or crimped are going to dry matted so make sure to detangle and smooth thoroughly.
7. The first hour of the air drying process is key. This is when damp hair has the most “memory” and can be directed on what to do. At this point, you want to smooth into a cross wrap, large Bantu or bun and tie the entire head down with a silky durag or scarf to lay tresses down. Short haired ladies can simply detangle, smooth tresses and tie them down.
8. For this stage of the air dry avoid cotton scarves and dorags as they will absorb product, moisture and nutrients right out of the hair.
9. After the first hour the scarf or dorag can be removed to allow strands to dry freely.
10. Once the hair is mostly dry ends can be “trained” by rolling them onto a flexirod*, satin rollers or magnetic rollers*. This ensures smooth, healthy, bumped ends without the need for heat styling.
You can vary the method to your own liking. Below is a method used by this youtuber.
As with most hair care skills – practice makes perfect. Once you discover your magic combination of product, method and timing your strands will thank you with moist luscious health and enhanced length retention so put down the tools of torture and start air drying!