Taking great care of our delicate curly tresses seems to introduce the occasional (okay, frequent”> dilemma into our daily routines. One particular problem is that of sopping wet hair and what to do with it. It is possible to protect your hair from thermal damage by avoiding the use of hair dryers, and frizz can be minimized by avoiding the use of regular bath towels as turbans. But, air drying thick, curly hair that is saturated with water and product can literally take hours, which is neither convenient nor stylish. A wet head really doesn’t lend itself to a professional persona either. So, as we endeavor to maintain our professional credibility, avoid catching colds (if you believe that particular old adage”>, and have the best looking locks we can, sometimes we find ourselves looking for methods or products which might be of assistance to us in reducing the drying time of our hair.

Mechanical Methods

So, what can we do to attempt to speed this process up? Most of us don’t have hours in the morning to wait while our hair dries, but we also frequently prefer the look of freshly washed hair to that of “slept-on” hair. One popular solution has been the use of cotton t-shirts or microfiber towels. These allow one to gently absorb a lot of the water from hair, while reducing friction between hair strands and the cloth. High levels of friction between hair and cloth (such as occurs when using typical terry cloth towels”> can lead to formation of tangles, frizz, roughened cuticles, and unpleasant texture. Smoother cloths help minimize this and can speed drying time. It is important to be gentle with your hair, even when using a cotton t-shirt or microfiber cloth, as wet hair is very susceptible to damage.

Simply squeezing water from the hair manually can also enhance drying time. I like to do this very carefully from root to tip in order to not damage the cuticle. However, this method can disrupt curl pattern, so it may be necessary to turn your head upside down and scrunch or plop in order to restore some bounce.

Clipping the hair up in sections at the roots is also an excellent technique for getting hair to dry more quickly. This exposes more surface area of the portion of hair closest to the scalp, which tends to hold the most water, and allows it to escape more quickly and easily. The clipping procedure also helps provide more body and lift at the root by helping hair to dry away from the scalp. It’s a great method!

Products and Ingredients that can Enhance Drying Time

There are definitely products that are formulated with specific ingredients that help to reduce drying time. Many of them come with some sort of downside, but are worth examining.


Not this kind of alcohol


Denatured ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol have been used in products in the past to speed up drying, either of the hair itself or of the product. Some mousses and hair sprays and some gels may still contain these alcohols in them. Low molecular weight alcohols such as these have extremely low vapor pressure and evaporate rapidly from hair, taking water molecules with them. Unfortunately, these ingredients lead to hair that becomes dry and damaged, so they are generally not favored by those of us with curly hair that already tends toward being overly dry.


Cyclic silicones, known as cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, and cyclotetrasiloxane, are frequently used in light conditioning products and spray-on detanglers for their ability to smooth the surface of the hair and to help speed drying time. These silicones are smaller molecules than their polymeric cousins and are sufficiently volatile that they evaporate fairly rapidly. However, many users have reported unpleasant results from products containing these materials, so one should proceed with caution.

Amine-functional silicones

Silicones such as amodimethicone, which are silicones containing amine groups that give them a positive charge, have been observed to decrease drying time. They have the added benefit of imparting a high level of gloss to hair and smoothing the outer surface of the hair. For this reason, they are a popular choice by formulators for products such as leave-in conditioners and spray-on detanglers. Amodimethicone is also resistant to build-up and fairly easily removed. My favorite detangler uses this ingredient, and I have always been pleased with its performance.

I ran across some patents by Procter and Gamble where they were claiming a newly modified version of an amine-functional silicone polymer with halogenated functionality aided in reducing drying time and also in maintaining style hold in a styling formula. These polymers were touted as being extremely water repellent, resistant to rinsing or washing off, and helping reduce drying time in the future by minimizing water penetration into the hair. This doesn’t seem desirable to me, but there may be some who would like a product such as this, especially if they enjoy products with extreme anti-humectant and anti-frizz properties.

Deep Repair

Moroccan Oil and Macadamia Nut Oil

Moroccanoil Treatment and Macadamia Hair Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque both advertise wonderful results for hair, both in terms of softness and frizz reduction as well as in reduction of drying time. Both products report between a 40-50% decrease in drying time. I thought this sounded pretty amazing, and was curious to learn the mechanism by which this worked. Unfortunately, when I looked at the formulae for these two products, I found that instead of being natural oils, their ingredient lists were headed by cyclomethicone, dimethicone, and cyclopentasiloxane. I guess we know why they reduce drying time now. This seems to fall under the category of misleading marketing in the “natural” product category.

On the whole, it seems that the various mechanical methods for reducing drying time are safe, effective, and inexpensive. Using several of the methods at a time should speed things up for you (squeezing hair gently, plopping into a microfiber towel or t-shirt, clipping at roots in small sections”>. Products containing amodimethicone do decrease drying time while maintaining shine and softness and are well-tolerated and even loved by many curly haired consumers. Lightweight conditioners and detanglers containing cyclic silicones perform well for some people, but not for others, so that is something you will have to try for yourself. There doesn’t seem to be much escape from the fact that we simply need to allow more time to get ready than if we were willing to employ some of the more traditional methods of drying one’s hair. I am curious about these ionic hair dryers, but have not looked into them at all. I would love to hear from readers who have experience with them. Talk to me!

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