Study Shows That Blow Drying Is Healthier Than Air Drying: Should We Be Concerned?

Study shows that blow drying better than air drying

Well ladies, are you a blow dryer type of girl or do you just depend on natural air to do your drying for you? As I said a few weeks ago, I have been delving a little into the science that is haircare and I have been discovering some alarming things that you might have come across as well. Whether you use a blow dryer or air dry, you might want to sit up and pay attention to this!

Do you remember when you began your healthy hair journey and you were told that one of the sins of healthy haircare is use of heat? You were cautioned about the dangers of using heat and so, not wanting to stunt your progress, you swore off your hair dryers, flat irons, curling wands and just about anything that would make you a transgressor (you probably even pawned them off in a yard sale).

Of course, as you became wiser to the dos and don’ts depending on what your hair responded to as well as information on the discussion boards, you amended the “absolutely no heat” stipulations to “maintaining a healthy relationship with heat”.

This amendment caused you to relax a bit and resolve to take chances with indirect heat from your hooded and hand-held dryers, while limiting the use of direct heat to once or twice per month or even yearly.

Now at the risk of rocking the apple cart, we must share a study that purports that blow drying your hair is actually safer than air drying. I can almost see some of the eyes bulging at that and I for one know exactly how you feel.

When I first came across this study I said to myself ‘I wonder which dryer manufacturer paid for this study to boost sales,’ then my more level headed nature took over.

To be honest, it is not as though this is way out of the ball park. It is not that far fetched at all when you consider that the hair must expand to hold water and lengthy drying times can cause hair to be in a fragile state since wet hair is quite vulnerable. We have written about hygral fatigue on BHI before, which is hair weakening due to constant exposure to water.

On the flip side, heat causes the cuticle layer to raise, allowing shingles of protein to shell off and cause gaps in the shaft if you are not careful. This caused me to look beyond the title and sift through the scientific explanations and findings.

The Study

The study was done in Korea by Yoonhee Lee, M.D., Youn-Duk Kim, M.D. and Won-Soo Lee, M.D. and is recorded in the Annals of Dermatology. They looked at the effects of washing and drying hair at least once for thirty days consecutively.

They tested five samples of virgin hair; one received absolutely no treatment, another was shampooed then air dried at 68°F, while the remaining three samples were all shampooed then blow dried for varying periods of time at varied temperatures and distances. It looked something like this:

Originally posted 2014-01-27 15:00:44.

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About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.

About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.


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  1. Matt Angelique Zimmer

    That’s bullcrap all that heat on hair is not healthier than air drying.. They are only saying that so you can damage your hair and buy their products that will only do more damage!! Smh

  2. Ameenya German

    I don’t care what this article says, my hair response well to air drying.. Not going to stop because this rubbish says other wise.. 🙂


      Actually the article’s conclusion was that there were too many holes in the study and honestly they didn’t really look at black afro hair so we can’t really take their findings at face value. lol

    2. Ameenya German

      Hi Nwajei the difference between air drying and blow drying is that you’re not using direct heat on your hair to dry it which has been known to cause heat damage to the hair. When you air dry you just let your hair dry naturally on its own adding no heat just letting Mother Nature dry it…. And hello Asanda.. I do nothing special to my hair when air drying it. I just co-wash my hair, apply my leave-ins, braid my hair and my hair dry on it’s own.. I have not used heat on my hair in over almost two years since my big chop and my hair is flourishing and very healthly. 🙂

  3. Chanelle Wilkerson

    I blow dry mine and that’s the way it’s staying. Ain’t nobody got time for all that work that my hair requires after air drying.

  4. Yvette Martin

    I can’t work with my hair after air drying! I HAVE TO blow dry if I want to “style” it! If I air dry the ONLY thing I can do with it, is, moisturize it, and, put a FABRIC headband on! THAT’S IT! Even then, it doesn’t look right, so, it’s either blow dry it, or throw a wig on it!

  5. Natasha Allen

    To be honest, I can actually agree with this to some degree. Before I started my hair journey, I had

  6. Natasha Allen

    I used the blow dryer and had no tangles. I stopped using it, and had soo many tangles after starting my hair journey (note that this was done while improving practices on my hair). Last night was my wash day, and I succumbed to the hair dryer, and my hair is tangle free and it feels like silk! This is just my personal experience of course

  7. Sunny Vibes

    Air dry is the healthiest option on her. Gives hair chance to grow than applying heat consistently

  8. Tia Smith

    This article is hogwash for those with afro textured hair. First of all…. we do not wash every day so excessive water is not our enemy. However, excessive dryness is. Second, if the article was read…It talks about drying hair for just a few minutes. Really… what black woman can blow dry their hair in 6 minutes??? The risk for heat damage is toooo high due to the length of time it takes to dry. If heat is used… it should be indirect via a hood dryer with blow drying done infrequently. #thatisall


      True, nobody dries their hair in 6 mins, more like 30! I think the fact that us with afro textured hair also use oils with ceramides regularly also makes a huge difference because those oils protect the cuticle layer from damage.

  9. LaKeasha Thompson-Harris

    Its better to air dry your hair to me less heat damage because most of us use a flatiron at some point less heat is best but for those of you that find it hard to manage your hair after air drying after you moisturize your hair put it up in plats(braids) like4/5 put a scarfe on and go to bed by morning hair is dry unbraid and style it will be soft no tangles and makes flatironing a lot quicker and your hair will be smother and straighter

  10. Phyllis Cunningham

    Everybody says it is best to stay away from heat while transitioning, but I always been blow drying my hair, (on a low setting) because my hair responds well to being & looks better blow dried than being air dried. And my hair is just fine.

  11. Jane Owens-Perry


  12. Bri Y. Harris

    I have a ceramic blow dryer which my hair does better v/s air drying the ends makes it better and less breakage if I flat iron my hair.

  13. Fanchon Hill

    I blow dry on a low setting after I part my hair into four sections. I don’t use hot settings. Air drying make hair tangled

  14. Ebony -Shorty Stacks- Benford

    FIRST “you” tell us that too much heat is bad for your hair and to air dry because its better … NOW “you” say, “Hey, wait a minute, scratch that, it’s wrong, go ahead and blow dry” … STOP PLAYING !!!! I (like MILLIONS of other black women) take hair care VERY serious and tend to rely on the tips i read about so please, STOP PLAYING !!!!!


      Why not read the post Ebony -Shorty Stacks- Benford you will see in our conclusions the advise essentially remains the same. We didn’t conduct the study, just reported it.

  15. Latonya D Rhodes

    I’ll stick with air drying…my hair comes out less brittle and stiff feeling…no matter what product I use to aid in drying and I have thin, tightly coiled hair…

  16. Hollyann Ohziyah France

    So how was hair dried before the blow dryer was invented?? Hogwash!!!….you people would stop at nothing to damage the black womans beauty smfh…black women love your natural hair and treat it well!

    1. Marsha Buchanan Post author

      It’s the same question we asked! Our ancestors didn’t have the luxury of hair dryers.

  17. Marsha Buchanan Post author

    Like several of you, I too will continue to air dry. I’ve come thus far and found no fault with it.

  18. Mojo

    hmmm. i dont know bout this one, but then again it depends on the individual. My hair hates heat so I will definitely not begin using heat again unless I’m under my hooded dryer doing treatments..but too each its own i guess.

  19. Damita Jo

    Thus is not true! If I were to blow dry my curly hair, it would become a frizzy mess!

  20. Brittany Mcgill

    you dont have to use the blow dryer has three setting low, medium and hi..blow drying my haair and my daughters hair on the low setting has helped her retain a lot of the moisture in her hair after i wash it

  21. Nicole Nelson

    Hi , I’m new to this natural hair and im confused on some things. I have really thick coarse hair and i don’t know how to do hair , so is air drying or blow drying good for my hair and how can u style it afterwards.

  22. Jamie Carter-Bailey

    I agree somewhat I don’t allow my hair to fully air dry but I do use the blow dryer to finish the process, my hair is easier to manage that way

  23. Adrienne Jones

    nonsense ‘cuz blow drying has higher heat and air drying has no heat, so which is healthier? Let me recall it, I remmy when science came out once to prove that is better to air drying since it is bad to blowdrying or use heat with curl roller that damage giving hair spits. Air drying doesnt do anything like that…smh

  24. Pamela Smith

    Drs. Lee, Kim and Lee are from Korea. How many african american’s were visited by these doctors and had their hair tested? How many blow dryers are made in Korea? What are the sales figures for hair dryers? How many hair vloggers and youtubers have you seen that do wash and go’s complain about their hair falling out because they do wash and go’s exclusively? I do believe that we had this same kind of laboratory testing hysteria when we stopped relaxing our hair. Blow dryers now, curling irons next….studies need to show that we black women ain’t falling for this crap!! Just my opinion….

  25. Tiseke Chilima

    I don’t know about healthier but my hair suffers less breakage and is stronger when I use heat rather than air dry as long as it’s not bone dry. I never used to use heat before and my hair was thin and slow to grow. I think hair reacts differently so it’s more about your hair’s preferencee than what is generally considered “healthier” by a study or whatever. just saying…

  26. Renee Akperov

    Not because your hair is easier to manage after blow drying that doesn’t make it healthier. I’ve recently stopped blow drying my hair and just let it air dry after a wash and moisturizer. Yes it’s curly, but my hair feels softer and healthier that way.

  27. Nessa Rene'e

    I’ve blow dried my whole life except for the last 8 months and I have to say that I’ve seen more breakage with air drying. I will be going back to blow drying but only when my hair is 80% dry. Flat ironing my hair every other day also made my hair brake and look like straw. I think the best for my hair is blow drying once a week and flat ironing no more than twice a month.

  28. Maya Dennies

    I call bs. I didn’t use heat for one whole year and that’s when I had the most growth.

  29. Wendy Jean-Louis

    Whst was the process they used in air drying? Did they untangled the hair first? Was there any product added to the hair before air drying? Did they just leave it wild to air dry or put it in something? When I had a perm I sir dried at times but I used to put it in curlers to let it air dry. Same with natural hair u put in in a protective style to dry without any knots or whatever to damage it

  30. Valerie Johnson

    If I air dried my hair would be continuously damp since I wash my hair every day (surprise, some of us do).

  31. Ngozi Okoli

    Eating a egg, that was cooked on the sidewalk in Texas. Taste better than a skillet fried egg from IHOP…. ok. Maybe that is better. Lol

  32. Lisa Guy

    Might look better if you didn’t do everyday. Kinda looks a little dry.

  33. Pamela Smith

    Of course it’s healthier. Air drying is free. They can’t sustain their buying power or stay in business unless we give them our money.

  34. Rodemirma Viljean

    In my pre-relaxer days, I blow dried my hair Every Time I washed it and had long, thick and healthy hair. Air drying would cause my hair to be brittle and break. After recently going back to natural, I found the Exact Opposit. Listen to your hair, that’s all.

  35. Tina Waters

    No the makers of Conair and other hair dryers paid for that study. So no I’m not concerned. We all know the damage blowdrying your hair can do.

  36. Geraldine

    You cannot generalize this study to all hair types. Black afro hair was not looked at so you cant tell us that air drying is bad based on just one study.

    1. Alma Ruddock

      I agree with you in principle, but I do think that the results are certainly worth a good think about because inner hair structure of hair does not differ that much between the races, its only the cross-sectional shape of the hair shaft as well as the arrangement of cuticles which differ. We are also aware of the phenomenon of hygral fatigue which sounds very much like what the study in the article were also looking at indirectly. Essentially the longer your hair remains wet, the weaker it gets. All in all, it’s not so much the action of blow drying itself that is better for your hair, but rather how quickly your hair dries in general. Many black women tend to have dry hair by nature so it stands to reason that our hair dries faster anyway. Still, as tips go, hurrying up the drying process with a blow dryer(or an overhead dryer) on a cool setting, this is a pretty good one to add to your routine.

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