Why your hair is taking forever to dry!

Megan Dominion

Did you know, it can take anything from 40 minutes to 8 hours for different hair types to dry naturally. I have type 3A hair and it can take absolutely forever for my hair to dry! Drying time depends on various factors, such as your hair’s porosity, length, volume and the products you are using on your hair. This nifty guide will break down everything you need to know about drying your hair, including some fun techniques to speed the process up and still get great curls!

Your hair’s porosity will define your hair’s drying-time

Do you know how porous your hair is? Each of your individual hair strands comprises three layers. From the inside-out these are the Medulla, Cortex and Cuticle. The cuticle is the outer layer, and its job is to protect the cortex. That’s where all your hair’s strength, moisture and nutrients are stored. The cuticle isn’t a solid layer though; it’s kind of shaped like the outer layer of a pinecone or like the scales on a fish. If those scales are far apart on your hair, then that means that you have HIGH porosity hair. If the scales are closer together (or completely closed), then you have LOW porosity hair.

You can find out more about this and take a test to see how porous your hair is. As you can imagine, if your cuticles / scales are very open, then your hair will lose hydration quickly – meaning that your hair will dry pretty quickly. If your hair is taking too long to dry, then you can assume that a contributing factor is that you have LOW porosity hair! 

Are your hair products affecting your drying time?

Some hair products take longer to dry than others. It also depends on how much product you are putting on your hair when it’s wet. Mousse will usually dry faster than a gel or a hair cream. I tend to use quite a lot of strong hold gel, which definitely adds to my drying time, but I like the effect of this type of styling product in the long run. Here are some tips that may help your hair to dry faster:

1. Once out of the shower, don’t apply your styling products to your hair straight away. Wait a few minutes for excess water to leave your hair before adding your products. The amount of time you wait will depend on your hair’s porosity, but 5 – 10 minutes is a good estimate.

2. Plopping helps cut down on drying time and gives your hair a better chance at absorbing your hair products. This is a technique where you use a t-shirt or micro towel (not a normal bath towel) to soak excess water out of your hair and helps to give you a better and more defined cast. To ensure that you’re getting the MOST out of the plop technique, check out the common mistakes you can make while plopping your hair.

Will hair dry faster with a diffuser?

Diffusing your hair is an art on its own, and many curlies, including myself, prefer letting their hair air-dry, and then scrunch their curls once their hair is bone dry. I find that this helps with forming a better cast and that my hair produces less frizz and more definition.

If you’re in a pinch for time or you have to interrupt your usual wash cycle, then many curly-haired folk recommend diffusing until your hair is halfway or three-quarters dry, and then leaving the rest to air dry. The success of this technique will depend on your hair type, length, porosity, the products you use or how comfortable you are with a diffuser. To be honest, I will only diffuse my hair when I’m really in a pinch, as I have not yet mastered diffusing without adding frizz.


Thick curly hair

Shorter hair will dry faster

If you have very low porosity hair and can’t wait up to 8 hours for your long hair to dry, then a haircut is a great option. Shorter curls are fun and bouncy, anyway! Remember to always cut layers into curly hair to get more definition, shape and a bigger variety of curl types.

It’s a good idea to give your hair a cut in winter when drying time slows down even more than usual. I’ve just done this Waterfall Wolf Cut as I got tired of sitting around with wet hair for most of a full day in winter!

Could silicone build up affect your hair’s drying time?

If all of these methods fail you, then you might have some product build-up on your hair. This means that your cuticles are blocked from releasing moisture. This is especially true if your hair feels waxy after washing.

Silicone is an ingredient found in most conditioners and styling products. If your hair feels waxy or greasy no matter how much you wash, then the silicone or product build-up is most likely the culprit. Don’t worry, it’s an easy fix! A good clarifying shampoo will strip your hair of unwanted product build-up and leave you with a blank canvas. Your hair will dry faster, look cleaner and be much easier to manage. Not sure how to clarify? Check out our handy guide on how to clarify your curly hair like a pro.

What does it mean if your hair dries TOO fast?

If your hair is drying at lightning speed and looks constantly dry and straw-like, even days after washing, you could be suffering from protein overload. Check out more information on protein overload.

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.