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How to Air Dry Natural Hair FAST

• Feb 7, 2012

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?

About The Natural Haven

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

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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.


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!


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 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 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.


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


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 🙂


What are curlformers & where do you get them?

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.


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.


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.

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… 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.

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… Read more »

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.


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.


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!


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.


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! 🙂

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,… Read more »

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