There are many methods of drying natural hair, but the three main methods are Heat Blow-Drying, Cool Blow-Drying and Air Drying.
If one chooses to use a blow-dryer, the dryer needs to have different heat settings so that you can choose the right setting for your hair.
Before we dive into the different methods of drying the hair, we need to first understand each part of the hair strand. A hair strand is like a cylinder that has an inner cortex and an outer layer call cuticle (this is a protective layer that protects the cortex), the cuticles are held together by sensitive proteins. Heat lifts the cuticles and cold lays the cuticles. When the cuticles are lifted it makes it easier for the moisture (water) to get into the cortex and hydrates the strands, however, if the cuticles stay lifted, then the moisture can easily escape from the cortex and therefore dehydrating the strands.
The benefit of Blow-Drying the hair with heat, it is less time-consuming and can leave your hair immediately shining. However, this can leave your hair prone to heat damage, dryness and may make your hair susceptible to split ends as breakage. Once the cuticles are lifted, it is no longer protecting the cortex and the bonds in the hair there for making it easier for the moisture to escape the cortex (leaving the strands feeling dry and stiff) and the heat to damage the bonds in the hair that made it natural (kinky, coily or curl).
Cool Blow-Drying is either using the cool or a lower heat setting on the hairdryer. Using this setting can be less time consuming (it takes a little longer than heat Blow-Drying) and can help lay the cuticles especially when the dry is set in the cool setting. A lay cuticle means that the moisture (water) is locked in place on the cortex and therefore keeping the strands hydrated and flexible, protecting the bonds in the hair and keeping your natural hair texture/type. It is also considered a safer and healthier method according to a 2011 study conducted in Korea. The disadvantage is that if this method is used in the wrong way, it can still cause damage to the hair the same way Heat Blow-Drying does.
Whatever Blow-Drying methods you use, it is important to use heat protection on your hair (you can read about the benefit of grapeseed oil and its heat protection factor here). The distance in which you choose to blow dry your hair (the distance between the blow dryer and your hair) can also have an impact on the health on your hair. The further the dryer is away from your hair the better. For cool/low heat drying it is recommended that the dryer should be at least 6 inches away from the hair (whilst the dryer is in constant motion) and for Heat Blow-Drying this should be even further. Sectioning the hair into about 4 sections will also help with an even drying process as well as focus to prevent or slow down any damage to the hair.
The benefits with Air drying are that the cuticles are laid and moisture is locked in for longer and preventing any dehydration or bond breakage. This helps to promote flexibility in the strands and longer hydration of the hair. However, some believe that air drying may not be benefitting to the hair, has hair genuinely swell up when it is moist (has plenty of water). The longer the swelling of the hair strands, the more pressure it puts on the protein and therefore causing damage.
Some experts seem to recommend the combination of Air Drying and Cool Blow-Drying. They said air-drying the hair between 70-80% dry and finishing the process with the Cool Blow-Drying methods means 100% health mane.
Whatever method you use, we wish you the best with your health hair journey.
Tune Your Hair (Access 04/2020); How to Blow Dry Natural hair; https://www.tuneyourhair.com/blow-dry-natural-hair/
Eliae. N (2012); Prevention; The Healthiest Way To Dry Your Hair; https://www.prevention.com/beauty/hair/a20442345/the-healthiest-way-to-dry-your-hair/
The Natural Haven (2011); BGLH Marketplace; The Effects of Blowdrying on Natural Hair; https://bglh-marketplace.com/2011/08/the-effects-of-blowdrying-on-natural-hair/
The Natural Haven (2014); BGLH Marketplace; How To Blow Dry Natural Hair Without Suffering Heat Damage; https://bglh-marketplace.com/2014/06/how-to-blow-dry-natural-hair-without-suffering-heat-damage/
Carison. K (2008); Advantages and Disadvantages of Blow-drying You Hair; Ezine Articles; https://ezinearticles.com/?Advantages-and-Disadvantages-of-Blow-drying-You-Hair&id=1447489
Lee, Y et al (2011); Hair Shaft Damage from Heat and Drying Time of Hair Dryer; Korean Dermatological Association; The Korean Society for Investigative Dermatology; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229938/