Air-Dry or Blow-Dry Hair?

Father blowdrying daughter's (2-4) hair, close-up

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Blow-drying your hair can give you a more controlled style. It can also take a long time and damage your hair. Air-drying, on the other hand, is healthier but can leave you with wet hair for hours. It's up to you to decide which hair-drying method suits your lifestyle. Here are some facts and ideas to help you choose.

Dangers of Blow-Drying

You've probably heard that heat is bad for your hair. The Beauty Brains blog has the details: Each of your hair strands is covered with shingle-like structures called cuticles. These are layers of protein that protect your hair from damage. Heat breaks down the cuticle, making your hair rough and dull and more susceptible to damage.

In addition, heat causes your hair to lose moisture faster than it can be reabsorbed from the air, leaving it brittle. Finally, when you wet your hair, the fibers swell; when you dry it quickly, the fibers contract, causing cuticles to crack.

Misconceptions About Air-Drying

It's true that air-drying is better for your hair overall, but there are dangers to letting it dry slowly. Beauty Brains notes that combing your hair while wet can stretch the strands, causing damage and splits while it is at its most delicate. Rubbing your hair with a towel "will rip, strip, pop, snap and fry your hair in no time."

Allowing your hair to blow freely in the wind can cause it to knot, creating even more potential for split ends. Finally, going out into freezing temperatures with wet hair can cause it to freeze and break.


You should decide on a daily basis what is best for your hair. Overall, Beauty Brains recommends washing and drying your hair less frequently. When you need to dry your hair, decide whether you can take the time to blow-dry carefully or if you can afford to have wet hair while it air dries. If you choose to blow-dry, try not to overheat or stress the strands. If you air-dry, protect your hair from tangles without over brushing.

Safe Blow-Drying

To blow-dry your hair without doing too much damage, Beauty Brains recommends using a diffuser to avoid overheating. Keep the exposure time short to stop the "blow fryer" effect.

In an article on, salon owner Johnny Lavoy recommends using a heat-protection product and keeping the blow dryer moving to avoid overheating any single spot. If you have dry hair, apply a silicone-based anti-frizz serum.

Convenient Air-Drying

To cut down on the time your hair takes to dry naturally, Beautiful With Brains suggests starting with a highly absorbent towel. Instead of rubbing, blot your hair gently. Then, use your fingers to fluff it from the roots, increasing air flow. claims that you can detangle your hair with less breakage using a wide-toothed comb, and then apply an anti-frizz serum. If you want to create textures, try wrapping or braiding your hair while it dries.