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Towel Drying - Tips & Benefits

It’s easy to understand why so many people damage their hair while drying it. Few people have the time to let their hair naturally air dry. It can take hours and we want a fast and easy solution.

Towel drying is one of the easiest ways to dry your hair. It’s also one of the fastest ways to destroy it. Poor drying techniques and lackluster towel choices have created an epidemic of frizzy, dry and broken hair. Cuticles, which are the outer layers protecting the hair shaft, are especially prone to damage. This leads to unhealthy, dull-looking hair.

Whether you’re trying out long hair for the first time or you’ve been towel drying for years, it’s easy to fall into damaging habits. Keep reading for tips on how to best towel dry your hair for a natural, effortless look.

Types of Towels

Towels come in almost any combination of weights and fibers. But not all towels are kind on your hair. Keep reading to learn which types of towels to avoid and which types to start trying:

Avoid: Bath Towels

Bath towels are typically made from cotton or cotton blends in a terry cloth pattern. Options range from practical, supermarket-brand blends to soft and luxurious Egyptian or Pima cotton towels. But it doesn’t matter how soft they are — the “fluffy” nature of bath towels makes them particularly damaging to our hair.

Terry cloth is a fabric that has unbroken loops, or "piles." Especially popular in bath towels and robes, terry cloth is excellent at absorbing water but is not the friendliest choice for hair. The heavily textured pattern of this cloth easily snags on hair strands and tears cuticles.

Additionally, bath towels are relatively heavy. When used to dry hair in a wrap or a turban, their weight causes strands to stretch and break. The rough texture of bath towels is also a problem — it creates friction when rubbed against hair. Because it breaks and tears hair shafts, this friction leads to frizzy halos and bushy, split ends.

A good rule of thumb is to not use the same towel to dry yourself and your hair — they were designed for different purposes, after all. While terry cloth can make a luxurious and absorbent bath towel, other less-abrasive fabrics are better suited for your hair.

Try: Salon or Microfiber Towels

Unlike bath towels, salon and microfiber towels are designed to be gentle on human hair. Try one of these types of towels for fast absorbency without damaging your cuticles:

1. Salon Towels

Salon Towels are designed to be effective across the spectrum of human hair types

Salon towels are designed to be effective across the spectrum of human hair types. Many stylists work with clients who have damaged hair, so their towels must be sensitive enough to not add to the problem.

Typically less “fluffy” than traditional bath cloths, salon towels don’t generate the same friction as other types. Their fine texture allows them to absorb water without snagging on strands, meaning they have a more positive long-term impact on your hair.

2. Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels take gentle drying to a whole new level. As you could probably guess from the name, the cloth is made up of tiny fibers. These fibers are much smaller than a strand of silk, let alone typical cotton threads. The average microfiber cloth is made from fibers that are 10 to 50 times thinner than a human hair.

The fibers of a microfiber towel aren’t looped like terry cloth towels. These split fibers create a greater surface area, which means they can absorb more water at a faster rate than normal bath towels. Microfibers don’t snag or catch on hair, either, ensuring your cuticles remain intact.

Whether you choose a salon-grade or microfiber towel, both provide gentle, nonabrasive surfaces to dry your hair quickly without damage.

How to Towel Dry Your Hair

Now that you’ve decided on a new towel, it’s time to start drying. Below, we'll walk through the three most common methods of drying hair with a towel:

1. Blot & Squeeze

Blotting is an easy way to dry wet hair without damage. Begin this process as soon as you turn off the water in the shower:

  • Before getting out of the shower, gently squeeze the extra water out of your hair. Avoid twisting motions. Instead, take portions of hair and run your hand vertically down the section, pressing out the water as you go.
  • Next, take a section of hair and press it from both sides with a towel, applying light pressure. Begin at the roots and work your way down to the tips.
  • Avoid rubbing, wringing or squeezing with too much pressure. Any friction can damage your hair and lead to frizz and split ends.

By blotting your hair, you gently press out excess water without rubbing. This protects your hair from damaging friction and allows it to dry smoothly.

2. The Towel Wrap

Towel wrapping your hair can be useful if you have long hair and extra time to get ready

Wrapping your hair is especially useful for people with long hair, or for when you have extra time to get ready. This method requires a larger towel than blotting — it doesn’t have to be as large as a bath towel, but it needs to be at least big enough to wrap your hair.

  • First, squeeze excess water from your hair while you’re still in the shower. This will help the towel dry your hair effectively.
  • Bend over and flip your hair so that it hangs straight down, in front of your face. Place the edge of the towel on the back of your neck, against your hairline. Most of the towel should be draped over your hair, hanging in front of your face.
  • Pull the sides of the towel together at your forehead, making sure to contain your hair inside of the towel.
  • Twist the towel, starting as close to your forehead as possible. Keep twisting in one direction until you reach the end, and then straighten, flipping the end of the twist on top of your head.
  • Leave your hair in the wrap for 20-30 minutes.

Some notes:

Make sure that all of your hair is hanging in the same direction before you wrap — if it’s tangled or stuck in multiple directions, it will dry in strange positions and interfere with styling.

Also, be careful not to twist the towel too hard. This could pull and stress your hair, causing breaks. You want the wrap to be tight enough that the twist stays put while you get ready, but not so tight that you feel an uncomfortable pulling sensation at your scalp.

3. Plopping

A variation of the traditional towel-wrap, plopping is a technique especially useful for curly hair textures.

Plopping allows your hair to dry loosely gathered and scrunched to achieve ultimate texture and volume. Many people who try plopping report tighter, more defined curls, with less frizz. Here's how to do it:

  1. First, lay a towel on a chair or counter in front of you.
  2. Flip your head forward until all of your hair is in over the center of the towel.
  3. Take the far edge of the towel and bring it forward, over your hair. Place it against the nape of your neck.
  4. Take both sides of the towel and bring them to the back of your neck.
  5. Holding the ends of the towel behind your neck, stand up and secure the towel with a large hair tie as if you are wearing a bun.
  6. Leave your hair in the towel for anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight.

Plopping is a curl-friendly take on a towel wrap, which can stretch out curly hair and reduce definition. If you don’t have an appropriate towel on hand, you can also try plopping with a long-sleeved T-shirt.

Towel Drying by Hair Type

Every person has unique hair needs because of their hair type and texture

Every person has a unique hair type and texture. Because of this, every person has unique hair needs. What works for someone with thin, fine hair probably won’t translate to someone with thick, bushy curls. While stylists group hair texture into many different categories, we’re just discussing the three major groups: straight, wavy and curly.

1. Straight Hair

Typically, straight hair has abundant natural oil, giving it a smoother and shinier appearance than curlier hair. For people with straight hair, retaining moisture generally is not an issue. Instead, a common problem is how to increase volume, especially when air drying.

Towel drying is a perfect solution for your volume dilemma. While you should try to avoid as much friction as you can, it’s not possible to eliminate all rubbing movements when towel drying your hair. However, when drying is done correctly, this slight friction will not harm your hair. Instead, it will increase volume at the roots, where it is most needed.

To add even more texture, try adding some product after you have towel dried your hair. While you can buy gels and serums specifically designed to increase volume, you don’t have to invest your life’s savings into experimenting with various products — try spraying a little dry shampoo at the roots and rubbing it into the crown of your head for an instant lift.

For straight hair, be sure to use either a salon or microfiber towel. Avoid rubbing your hair with a towel. Instead, try blotting or wrapping. If you use products after drying your hair, try combing it through with a wide-tooth comb to ensure even distribution.

2. Wavy and Curly Hair

Wavy and curly hair types have the opposite problem of straight hair: they have plenty of volume but much less moisture. Adding and retaining hydration is the key to a stunning textured hairstyle.

These types of hair will need to be the most careful when towel drying their hair. Any contact with the wrong kind of towel can counteract all efforts at conditioning and smoothening. Even if you have the right towel, rubbing wavy or curly hair is guaranteed to cause frizz and breakage.

Use a microfiber towel to reduce friction. Every person is different and some wavy and curly-haired people have success with blotting or wrapping. But it’s more common for people with textured hair to have success with the plopping method of towel drying.

Again, experiment to figure out the best method for your hair type. The degree of waviness varies a lot under the umbrella of “wavy” or “curly” hair. If your hair has just a slight wave, it might respond well to wrapping.

beauty experts recommend pairing towel drying with a leave-in conditioner

The beauty experts at Glamour recommend pairing towel drying with a leave-in conditioner to help minimize frizz. Look for hydrating ingredients like shea butter, argan oil and aloe. Also keep an eye out for ceramides. These are chemicals that help repair damaged strands. Avoid alcohol-based ingredients, as these will dry out your hair.

Tips for the Guys

With the rise of the manbun, many guys have decided to grow out their hair. But a change in length means more than a hip new style — it requires changing your hair maintenance routine. You can’t care for 13” long hair the same as you would 3” long locks.

You won’t be able to get the results you want without putting a little more thought into your hair routine. However, this doesn’t require a ton of new products or hours in the shower — by just applying these easy changes, you can have healthy, long-lasting hair without much hassle.

1. It’s All About the Conditioner

While short hair can get away with little to no conditioning, long hair requires more hydration. If you don’t include moisturizing products in your new hair routine, your hair will get increasingly frizzy and damaged. Avoid permanently damaged hair and add a dab of conditioner while you shower.

2. Resist the Urge to Brush

Similar to rubbing your hair, brushing your hair (especially when it’s wet) will damage it and lead to frizziness, split ends and breakage. For long hair, a wide-tooth comb is generally a better choice. It detangles hair without breaking strands or harming cuticles.

3. Keep It Loose

Pulling your hair into tight ponytails or buns will cause long-term damage. Often, people who often wear their hair up will develop a halo of small frizzy hairs along their hairline. This is caused by continually tying hair back too tightly. Try loosening your bun, especially when your hair is wet and still drying. This will prevent long-term damage (along with those frustrating frizzy hairs).

Pay Less for Superior-Quality, Hair-Pampering Towels

At Towel Super Center, we know our towels. Our selection ranges from gym towels to golf cloths to beach towels and everything in between. And with bulk buying options and competitive shipping rates, we’re the Web’s leading wholesale towel suppliers.

We believe in providing the best quality and selection for the best prices and we want you to find the best towels for your business or your home. Browse our selection of microfiber and salon-grade towels and find the perfect drying towels today!

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