By Jc of The Nat­u­ral Haven

Air dry­ing hair with­out doubt is the least dam­ag­ing way to dry your hair. The prob­lem many nat­u­rals have with it is that it can take forever and a day (lit­er­al­ly) espe­cial­ly as hair gets longer or if you have thick hair (whole head not indi­vid­u­al strand). Here are some tips and tricks for you on how to get your hair to air dry super fast before you reach for the hair dry­er:

1. Do not immediately apply a leave in or other finishing product to soaking wet hair

If you want your hair to dry fast, do not apply a ‘seal­ing’ pro­duct to soak­ing wet hair. You will need to first dry off any excess water from your hair. The oils leave ins and oth­er fin­ish­ing pro­duct form a lay­er around the hair and prevent/retard the loss of water from the sur­face of hair. Mois­tur­is­ing i.e trap­ping the mois­ture inside the hair strand, will be just as, if not more effec­tive when you remove some of the water on the sur­face (mean­ing apply pro­duct to damp rather than soak­ing wet hair).

2. The old cotton t-shirt tip

Get­ting your hair from the wet stage to the damp state is easy. Instead of a tra­di­tion­al tow­el, find an old 100% cot­ton t-shirt or buy a high absorben­cy microfiber tow­el. The­se will soak up more water and as the sur­face of the cloth is smoother, there will be less fric­tion between the cloth and your hair.

3. Gentle squeezing

The biggest mis­take in dry­ing is using a back and forth move­ment with your tow­el which caus­es more dam­age than if you sim­ply fol­lowed the direc­tion of the cuti­cle (i.e dry from root to tip and if you want to repeat, release and go back to the root. Also wrap­ping your whole head will help to get rid of drip­ping water but will not accel­er­ate the dry­ing process. You will need to instead wrap your t-shirt or tow­el around each sec­tion (if you sec­tion wash) and gen­tly squeeze. You do not have to run the tow­el up and down the hair shaft, just squeeze, release and then move fur­ther down or to the next sec­tion. Always use dry por­tions of your tow­el or tshirt for max­i­mum effec­tive­ness. At the end of this stage you will be 50–60% dry and ready for seal­ing prod­ucts.

4. Open up your hair

Hair in twists and braids is com­pact and will not dry quick­ly. Many nat­u­rals want to keep the twists and braids so as to decrease shrink­age and give the hair some stretch. To dry hair fast, each strand needs max­i­mum expo­sure to air so unrav­el­ling twists or braids is nec­es­sary. It is pos­si­ble to stretch free hair and con­trol shrink­age with curl­form­ers. Hair can dry ful­ly with­in 3–4 hours with curl­form­ers and no heat. Band­ing and African threading/Ghana braids can be used to stretch hair but will be less effec­tive in terms of dry­ing speed as they keep hair com­pact. Often hair will be dry with­in 6–8 hours (i.e overnight). Anoth­er option is to unrav­el the twist, dry the hair fur­ther as in step 3 and then retwist or rebraid. This unravelling/rebraiding needs to be repeat­ed every 30 min-1 hour for faster dry­ing.

If you want your hair dry in under an hour, the only option is to use a hair dry­er, but going through the steps above before using the hair dry­er will help to reduce the heat lev­el and amount of time.

Ladies, what are your tips for quick air dry­ing?

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23 Comments on "How to Air Dry Natural Hair FAST"

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The cot­ton t-shirt works for me. I wash my hair in 4 big braids (as long as it isn’t gunky with gel or dusty, in which case I will wash it loose), then I gen­tly squeeze each braid with the tee shirt, then I unbraid each sec­tion, apply pro­duct, and then blot with tee again. Then I put it in medi­um twists. I can do this a 8pm and it’ll be 75 per­cent dry by 10:30 pm. And that is fast for my hair, because my hair is like a sponge that holds onto water. I also love my Curl­form­ers, but… Read more »

I have found that when I apply Shea But­ter, well actu­al­ly Alikay Nat­u­rals Shea Yogurt in my hair in 4 sec­tions, my dry­ing time is non-exis­tent. This works for me because my hair is dense and high­ly porous, so per­haps this method might weigh down the hair of those with fin­er strands, but you nev­er know until you try! :)


Lol @ Tia I thought I was the only one who whipped my hair after wash­ing ha ha ha… I think the high absorben­cy micro fiber tow­el is a great idea I would have nev­er thought of that. I had no idea what curl­form­ers are either. Great arti­cle I real­ly want to stop using my blow dry­er.


thanks for this arti­cle! its right on time!
i’ve also had issues with dry­ing my hair, i will try the T-shirt meth­ode.

what worked for me once was to leave my hair to air dry for about a hour or two then put it into braids or twists (although braids stretch my hair more )

;) HHG every­one!


There is a cheap­er alter­na­tive to curl­form­ers. I think the pro­duct is called High-Speed Curlers and they’re the knock-off ver­sion of curl­form­ers. You can find them on Ama­zon.


Coconut oil! I used it on my body as well to the same effect. Oil push­es water to the out­side, then it can be eas­i­ly tak­en off with a tow­el.

I’ve found that using med-large flexirods (in the same way as Curl­form­ers were men­tioned in step 4), works real­ly well. I’ve nev­er tried Curl­form­ers, but I’ve used about 25 of the 5/8″ size flexirods to roll my hair, and it was ful­ly dry and stretched in about 3 hours. I couldn’t believe it, since my braids take over 24 hours to dry.  The key was to make sure that none of my hair was over­lap­ping on the rod, as I rolled upward in a spi­ral-like fash­ion. This cre­at­ed more sur­face area, so mois­ture wouldn’t get trapped inside and slow down the… Read more »

I love this idea! I don’t have $ for curl­form­ers, but I do have some flexirods from my relax­er days. I wel­come any tips to quick­en dry­ing time and stretch­ing the hair.

The Natural Haven
I am cheap as they come — my gen­er­al spend­ing lim­it for any pro­duct is about 5 bucks. I think that any type of roller set is good but curl­form­ers in my opin­ion are the eas­i­est and fastest to use. They also give hair an excel­lent stretch. I think that curl­form­ers are very expen­sive but if your hair is get­ting to the 9 inch and over mark, they are thor­ough­ly worth it. It is like blow-dry­ing your hair with­out the heat, stretch­ing with­out the pulling.….….……I can hand on heart say, save the mon­ey up over a few months and get a… Read more »

They are rollers that gives your hair a spi­ral­ly twist. You can get them at Sally’s or from curl­form­ers site. Go to YouTube and type in curl­form­ers. You will find TONS of info on curl­form­ers.


For me the choice is apply­ing my prod­ucts when my hair is soak­ing wet and hav­ing silky smooth results, or dry, fizzy hair if I let it dry some then apply prod­ucts or if I use a t-shirt…silky smooth hair wins hands down…in the win­ter the heat on helps to dry faster. I also will just go for sit­ting under the dry­er for about 10mins tops and that usu­al­ly gives me the jump start need­ed to have it dry by morn­ing.

J Kenn (SpeakingTALL)

The cot­ton t-shirt method works like a charm. I’ve been using t-shirts for a few years now. My boyfriend total­ly gets upset when I use his shirts, so I guess I bet­ter fork over the mon­ey and buy some thick t-shirts from the store.


What are curl­form­ers & where do you get them?


I sim­ply shake out the excess water by whip­ping my hair before I get out of the show­er, then I blot the hair with my tow­el. You may look like you’re in a rock band but no one is watch­ing so whip away :-)


This arti­cle is so time­ly! I have been exas­per­at­ed with how long it takes my hair to dry! I do wish, though, that there was a cheap­er alter­na­tive to curl­form­ers that would work great to stretch my hair. Thanks for the info!


Can some­one tell me what a curl­former is and where to pur­chase?


I’ve seen peo­ple talk­ing about a cheap knock­off ver­sion of curl for­m­ers late­ly. I am just not sure where they can be pur­chased. May­be Ama­zon or Sally’s. The revies have been mixed though — some ladies love them. Oth­ers think they don’t hold up well.


I bought a pack of 40 fake curl­form­ers on ama­zon. I bought the long and nar­row, so they work for most hair lengths. They are good so far, I use them to sup­ple­ment my orig­i­nal curl­form­ers. The results are iden­ti­cal. Nap­tural95 has a video review on the fake curl­form­ers, search for it on YouTube. She also men­tions the brand, ama­zon ven­dor and I think she has a link too.


I bought some you can get them off of ebay but if your hair is longer than chin length don’t get them. They come in a mix long and short and I wound up using all the long ones. Hope that helps

Def agree. I got my knock off curl­form­ers on eBay $25 for two packs, from a sell­er in Chi­na. Instruc­tions came in Chi­ne­se (that’s what YT vids are for,right?) Not enough long rollers were in the pack­age and I had to use two short rollers on some strands. I got good results, but it was in July in GA and my hair poofed as soon as I went out­side. Might be time for me to try them again, no?  Over­all, I think it was a good pur­chase, since I didn’t want to drop $75+ on an untest­ed pro­duct. I think… Read more »

If you still look­ing to try some or get some more this is the sell­er where I bought mine from they were about $5 for 18 pieces, it took about 2–3 weeks for deliv­ery.


Lol, for­got the sell­er sor­ry


I found that my hair dries in less than an hour when I dri­ve with the win­dow down or sun roof open after I fin­ish my wash and go. And I usu­al­ly apply a lot of pro­duct to my hair while it is soak­ing wet. My dri­ve is nor­mal­ly 30–45 mins and my hair is 75% dry if not total­ly dry by then.