Blow Dry vs Air Dry-Which is Better for your Hair

Hair Care is one of the most sought-after topics worldwide. Looking into blow drying and air drying, there’s a lot of information about one being better than the other. Let’s debunk that myth.

Blow drying and air drying your hair will both lead to dry hair, but they have their ups and downs. Blow drying is faster and offers a more polished look but you risk heat damage and brittle split ends. Air drying is more gentle and safer for your hair since there’s no exposure to heat, but it takes hours for your hair to dry and you risk the growth of mildew on your scalp.

So which is better? Let’s find out!


In this section, we shall look at both alternatives paying keen attention to their effects on your hair, positive or negative.

Blow Drying

Blow drying is a type of hair drying solution where you apply direct heat to your hair to simply dry or style your hair. Among its benefits is that it’s a fast and convenient solution as you can be done in less than an hour. However, applying direct heat to your hair can cause damage including causing dry and brittle hair, which often leads to breakage.

Blow Drying Hair Pros and Cons
Blow Dry

Let’s dig deeper into the advantages and disadvantages;


  • A fast method of drying
  • Makes styling easier
  • Causes less frizz on your hair
  • Has a better overall look
  • Can be personalized further into flat ironing and more hairstyles.


  • Heat damage – this is the biggest danger of using direct heat with results often worse for weak hair and other hair textures.
  • Its flash drying effect causes hair to lose moisture and its natural oils. As you pass the dryer through your hair, you extract even the 30% water retained by your hair during washing. That leaves your hair dehydrated and your cuticles become dry, rigid, and brittle. When the hair flexes, the pressure causes the cuticles to crack.  hair with this degree of cuticle cracking then causes significant breakage.

Air Drying

With air drying, you depend on the atmosphere and time to dry your hair. It takes more time as you’re allowing your hair to absorb the moisture as it loses the rest to the atmosphere. Let’s look at its advantages and disadvantages as well.

Hair Air Drying Pros and Cons
Air Dry


  • Protection from heat – without direct heat, your hair strands remain strong and hydrated and less likely to break.
  • Your hair remains smooth. With air drying, your hair isn’t manipulated hence allowing your natural curls to pop and your hair texture to remain smooth.
  • It’s what’s best for different types of hair including natural and color-treated hair.


  • Time-consuming. Depending on your hair’s porosity, your hair could take even 24 hours to dry. The thicker/ denser your hair is, the more time is needed.
  • You could grow bacteria and mildew on your scalp. Sleeping with wet hair may not seem hazardous, but such a moist environment encourages the growth of mildew which is unhealthy for your hair.
  • Excess water retention from air drying your hair can cause damage to your hair in the long run. Your hair retains about 30% of the water every time you wash it. Your hair will be heavier as it swells and the hair membrane may get damaged and weakened over time. Because hair is weakest when wet, the longer your hair stays wet, the more damage you do to your hair membrane.
  • Air drying your hair exposes the hair to frizz especially in cold weather.

From the discussion above, you can see that both options have advantages and disadvantages, whereas both also present significant risks to your hair from heat damage to excess hair stretching from extended water retention. Let’s continue with the discussion in the next section.

Drying Factors

To understand which would be the best method for you, let’s look at factors that may steer this decision.

Type of Hair

Hair absorbs up to 30% of its weight in water, hence making it weaker and more susceptible to damage. For different types of hair, water dries up at different speeds with natural hair taking the longest. This means that the longer natural hair remains wet, the more the hair cortex swells and cracks leading to hair damage.

To avoid that, you could opt to blow dry your natural hair to dry your hair faster avoiding such effects. That being said, other hair types can also opt for a blow-dry if your hair has low porosity, meaning it takes the hair a long while to dry or absorb water.

Speed and Convenience

Again, blow drying would have to take the lead when it comes to speed and convenience. Blow drying your hair allows for more manipulation, styling, and a faster hair routine rather than air-drying that requires threading or other manual ways to dry the hair.

Additionally, blow-drying allows for volume and shine thanks to the styling products you use during heat styling. This concludes that blow drying is the best technique for a fast turnaround of your hair routine plus easy manipulation and styling.

Air-drying would take lead if you’re going for fast styles such as wash and go on natural hair rather than the old threading. In this case, then air-drying the hair would be considered an okay option.

Overall Hair Damage

It’s a fact that both methods of drying can cause significant damage to your hair, especially when not done correctly.

First, blow-drying can easily lead to heat damage to your hair. Contact exposure of direct heat to your hair can drain moisture and natural oils that are meant to protect the hair, leaving it vulnerable and easy to damage.

With air-drying the hair is placed under high pressure when the hair’s delicate strands are forced to hold down water for longer than two hours causing the keratin in the hair to weaken and could eventually snap, leading to hair damage. Furthermore, when the hair is wet, it’s not advisable to add any more tension to the already weak hair.

Doing so by either brushing or overly stretching the hair leads to tension in the strands and that could damage the hair. This also applies to holding the hair too tight like in ponytails. Sleeping with wet hair also causes excess friction to the hair which could lead to hair damage.

Talking about sleeping with wet hair, that could lead to the growth of bacteria and mildew. Damp areas provide a conducive environment for mildew to develop, regardless of its on your hair scalp. This is why it’s not recommended to sleep with wet hair, especially if you wash the hair daily.

As you can see, both air drying and blow-drying the hair can lead to overall damage of the hair by breakage, excessive dryness and split ends from direct heat, and danger to hair strands from holding water for an extended time. That said, you could consider using both ways to dry your hair, but follow these tips to do it effectively.

Tips to Effectively Air-Dry Your Hair

  • After washing the hair or exposure to heavy products like shampoo and conditioner, squeeze as much water out of your hair as possible.
  • Don’t rub your hair with a towel as this leads to frizz which remains even after the hair is dry.
  • Don’t wet or easy the hair at night to avoid sleeping with wet hair
  • Don’t touch your hair as it dries since the hair is weak as long as it’s wet.
  • Don’t forget to add essential products to the hair as they too can help the hair air-dry faster.

Tips to Blow-Dry Your Hair Properly

Blow drying the hair properly takes practice and should ensure your hair remains strong and healthy. Here are a few tips to could use;

  • Ensure you use the right tools for an effective blow dry. The tools include a hairdryer, brushes, and paddles.
  • Always add products to the hair after your wash to ensure the direct heat from the blow dryer doesn’t affect the health of your hair. For example, use a detangling leave-in conditioner to ensure you don’t strain the strands as you brush with the blow dryer.
  • Don’t forget a heat protectant before the blow-dry.
  • Dry the hair starting from the ends as you continue.
  • You could add in products step by step if you have a lot of hair
  • To set your style, apply hairspray or pomade. This will allow the hair to absorb moisture from the products after you’re done with heat.

In conclusion, both methods work fine and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Go for the one that you feel most aligned to and one that serves your need at the moment. Otherwise, they’re both great techniques for drying the hair.

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