Air-drying your hair could actually be worse for it than blow-drying

A lot of us have taken the current lockdown situation as a chance to give our hair a well-deserved ‘heat holiday’ – that is to say, not using heat styling like hair dryers, straighteners and curling tongs on the daily, as was our pre-COVID routine. With no real need (or desire) to do our hair everyday, it seems like the perfect time to temporarily ditch those drying heat tools and give our strands the chance to repair.

woman combing wet hair
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No daily commute to the office means many of us are taking the time to let our hair air-dry naturally – a treat for our poor tresses, surely? But what if we told you that doing so was no better, and in fact could be worse for your hair, than blow drying it?

Those clever scientists at GHD have revealed that our hair fibres swell and become weaker when wet – the longer the swelling goes on for, such as when air-drying your hair, the more pressure that is put on the proteins that keep our hair healthy and intact.

woman blow drying hair
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Indeed, celebrity hairstylist Adam Reed, who is a GHD global ambassador and has tended to the tresses of Ellie Goulding, Diane Kruger and Sophie Dahl, stands by his statement: ‘Do not let your hair air dry… It is a total myth that this is good for your hair!’

Adam Reed
Adam Reed. Getty Images

So what do we do? We know that blasting our hair with constant heat can also fry our strands into dry oblivion, so where’s the middle ground between the two?

Scientist & GHD Vice President of Smart Devices, Dr Tim Moore, has the solution – and it’s all about the gentle blow-dry.

woman blow drying hair
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Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Tim broke the method down into these simple step-by-step instructions:

  • Start with towel drying, using a scrunching motion rather than rubbing the hair – this will cause wet strands to break more easily.
  • Then spritz hair with a heat protectant spray – this prevents vertical cracks developing within the cuticle, which can lead to split ends.
  • Start blow drying on the lowest setting, slowly increasing the heat as the hair dries. He explained: ‘As the hair dries, the temperature can be increased since the denaturation temperature increases… When you start to feel your hair warm up, that’s your signal to start turning up the heat on your hairdryer, finally setting your style using the highest temperature.’

There we go, as simple as that. In fact we probably have time to do that even on a rushed morning before a commute, so that’s our morning hair routine transformed forever.