Saturday, November 29, 2008

Super secret hair drying tips

If you follow the CG (Curly Girl) routine, as I do, you know these facts about drying your hair:

1. Don't use a blow-dryer without a diffuser
2. Avoid terrycloth towels -- they rough up the cuticle
3. Air-drying is kinder to your hair than blow-drying

Maybe you know some other stuff, too, but that's basically what you learn from the Curly Girl book. Well, shazaaam! I have stumbled upon a few other interesting tidbits, but they come to me via that old nasty teacher named Experience. Some of these may not work for you, but they worked for me and what the heck, I can't be that different from you, can I?

Give your hair a few minutes to relocate its curl after you apply leave-in and/or curl creme.

Lots of people apply styling products to soaking wet hair, but that doesn't work as well for me as applying them to hair that has had a lot of the water scrunched out first. My hair is more porous than most, I think, so if I let it drink drink drink, it expands and pays me for my trouble with frizzies. So, what I've been doing for the past few months is squeezing out as much water as I can, then raking through my curl creme (I use either Loma Imply or Pink Boots but that doesn't mean you have to), scrunching again, and then waiting a couple of minutes. My curls get a chance to assert themselves better when I do this, which is what you want before applying gel because gel will tend to set your hair in whatever curl formation its in when it meets the gel.

So, wait for some curl to set it, then scrunch in your gel (or use your Denman brush to distribute it if your curl pattern can take it). This tip is likely more applicable to those of us with 3a curls, by the way.

When you squeeze "families" of curls in the towel of your choice (I use a Curl-Ease), concentrate as much on the scalp as the hair.

For about a year, I wasn't doing this. And I kept wondering why my hair tended to be flat on top, had more frizz, and took forever to dry. I'm a slow learner, what can I tell you?

When you squeeze fistfuls of hair into your curl-friendly towel, press your towel-covered hand against your scalp to make sure that the towel is absorbing moisture from there, too. Hold your hand at each place on your head for a good 10 seconds -- really let the towel suck up that water.

My hair takes half as long to dry now as it used to. And it isn't trying to take in more water than it needs. Score!

Shorten the air-drying phase of your routine by lengthening the blow-drying phase.

Yes, yes, I know this is contradictory to what you think you know about using a blow-dryer. And obviously, this trick won't work for everyone -- everybody's hair is different. But I used to slavishly follow the advice in the Jessicurl videos, which says blow-dry to 80 percent dry. Well, I think I was afraid of overdrying so I probably stopped at 70 percent most of the time. And then I'd wait about 2 to 3 hours for my hair to finish drying. Who's got that kind of time?

I now blow-dry to 90 percent dry. And in about an hour, my hair is completely ready for crunch out.

Using the "cool shot" on your dryer may help stave off frizz.

I am still testing this theory, but so far, I think it might be true. I know that I'm supposed to do a final rinse of my conditioner with cold water, but I am not woman enough to withstand a barrage of cold water in the shower, so I don't do that. I am hoping that the cool shot helps to close the cuticle in much the same way as a cold rinse might. If anybody has thoughts on this, I welcome your comments.

In any event, it does help your hair keep from "cooking" too long. I liken it to blanching green beans -- you boil for 2 minutes and then throw the beans into ice water to stop the cooking. (Hopefully you are not boiling your hair, but I think you get my analogy.)

I hope these tips help you. If you have others, by all means, share them in the comments.


Laura Lee said...

Awesome tips! I definitely agree about your theory with the cold shot though. I'm fine for a cold water rinse in the summer but the winter in the mountains where I am means that I want to come out of my shower toasty warm! So when I diffuse, I've been finishing by hit as much of the hair as possible with the cold shot (I'm using a conair dryer and the diffuser that came with it) and I've noticed less frizz when I cold shot vs. when I skip it because I'm in a hurry. It isn't drastic, but every little bit of frizz control helps right? :P

Sarah Stevens said...

Thanks! These are great tips. I like to scrunch out as much water as possible too. I guess I'll start diffusing more too. Oh and that picture is hilarious. :)

P.S. This is whimaway form NC.