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How many of you leave your hair to air dry thinking you are doing it a favour? I definitely used to try to do this whenever I could (which wasn’t very often) but apparently science says this is all wrong! Really, who knew?! I was shocked. Keep reading to find out how research has shown that air drying hair is more damaging than blow drying. How on earth can this be true?
I went to the amazing ghd laboratory in Cambridge last month and met Dr Tim Moore who is ghd’s chief technology officer. He introduced me to some facts I hadn’t considered before.
When I tweeted about air drying hair being damaging, there was a huge response. This included quite a lot of shock which I completely understand, but interestingly there were quite a few comments that actually truly supported the theory.
My hair always goes so dry and frizzy if I don’t blow dry it, so weird
— Lauren (@beautyxdivision) September 5, 2017
Yes please! I have been letting mine air dry but i find it waaay worse than if i blow dry it
— Clare (@ClareFaceWeb) September 4, 2017
Interesting! Something I’ve suspected because mine always looks and feels horrible when I air dry, much prefer using hairdryer
— Amy Forsythe (@HairNailsEtc) September 4, 2017
Yes definitely do a post! I haven’t blow dried my hair in over a month and it actually feels drier xx
— Hannah ✨ (@HannahHeartss) September 4, 2017
There were, of course, lots of comments to the contrary but considering I’d never really thought that leaving your hair to dry naturally could be worse than not, I thought these tweets were so interesting.
Air Drying Hair Is More Damaging Than Blow Drying. Why?
Well we have to start this tale in the shower. Why? Because apparently that’s where hair damage starts. Forget heat, the biggest problem our hair has to deal with is water.
This changes everything. A study carried out and documented here suggests that letting hair air dry actually causes damage to the hair. Further research carried out at the ghd Research & Development centre in Cambridge has shown that using a hair-dryer at the right distance, correct temperature and using a precise step by step method can actually cause less damage than letting hair air-dry.
Let me try to explain why. Hair is most vulnerable to damage when it is wet. The results documented in the published paper referenced above show that letting hair dry naturally causes the cortex (the thickest layer of hair) to swell and become weaker, as the swelling puts pressure on the delicate proteins that hold hair together. By leaving the hair wet you are effectively leaving it in contact with water for a longer period which means it’s in its weakened state for longer and therefore vulnerable to more damage.
This tweet below really struck a chord with me because when my hair is wet for a really long time, I do get a sense of it going rotten!
I was always told my hair would rot so I’ve never left it since 😂🙈
— Tamzin 🖤 (@TamzinSwann) September 4, 2017
To minimse damage, you basically need to minimise the time you allow it to be wet.
But that doesn’t mean blast the hell out of it on high speed and high heat!
You need to dry it in a way that means you don’t cause any unnecessary damage. Now, it is important to note that using a hairdryer has been shown to increase the roughness of hair. However, the study I have seen (and linked above) scientifically proves that using a hair dryer at a distance of 15 cm with continuous motion causes less damage than drying hair naturally.
How To Blow Dry for Minimal Damage
ghd scientist Dr Tim Moore has come up with this formula to ensure the healthiest of hair is achieved when blow drying:
- Start by using a scrunching motion when towel drying. Avoid rubbing the towel across hair when wet as hair will break in its weakened state
- Use heat protect spray – this provides an invisible barrier against heat damage & provides cuticle protection, and prevents split ends. I regularly use the ghd Heat Protect Spray.
- Start on a lower setting – high temperatures can cause damage to wet hair so start at the lowest setting and very slowly increase the heat as hair becomes more dry
- When you start to feel the hair warm up, that’s the signal to start to turn the setting up on your hairdryer to complete and set your style
Basically, as you hair becomes less wet, you can use a higher heat without exposing it to excessive damage. If you do it right, blow drying is proven to be less damaging than air-drying. Mad.
I never tong or curl my hair until it is completely dry because my style lasts longer that way. It’s a good job as well because that’s when it’s at its strongest and so is able to protect itself better. Also – I always go on about it but basically the ghd Curve Classic Curl Wand is the best thing since sliced bread and makes my curls super bouncy, shiny and long lasting.
I never brush my wet hair without putting some oil on it first to create good slip and minimise friction.
Considering my hair is super long, super bleached and I heat style it nearly every day, it’s in pretty good condition. I usually always blow dry my hair, so it does actually make sense to me that air drying hair is more damaging than blow drying. From now on though, I am definitely going to be doing less blasting and actually work through the heat levels in a more conscious way. I have been doing this for the last 3 or 4 weeks and I am really happy with how my hair is looking and feeling.
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