What does towel dried hair mean

By: | Last Updated: March 11, 2022

When did you learn towel-drying? You probably don’t even remember it! 

It’s as old as realizing that you have to comb your hair to look presentable. 

As you got older, though, you probably preferred a brush over a comb and, similarly, a blow-dryer over a towel. 

What does it mean to have towel-dried hair? 

It might be time to refresh your idea of towel-drying — for a good reason. 

Find out why this enhanced old ritual may prove better for your hair.

What does towel-dried hair look like?

What does towel-dried hair look like

Doesn’t it feel weird to realize that we differ in what we mean even with towel-drying?

It is such a simple task that you learned from an early age and probably never questioned about, even with all the advances in haircare. 

But here you are, probably confused why the towel-drying ritual of your friend takes longer than wrapping your hair in the turban fashion. 

Technically speaking, towel-drying means taking a towel and letting the excess moisture from your wet hair soak into the absorbent material.  

Afterward, your hair should look damp — not dripping wet nor completely dried up. And yes, there is a right way to do it and a suitable material for it too! 

How do you towel-dry your hair?

How do you towel-dry your hair

This is the big question. 

While everyone may agree on what towel-dried hair looks like, not all will agree on the exact steps to get from the shower to that level of damp hair. 

Does your ritual involve rubbing or squeezing? Or maybe it only consists of wrapping your hair with a big, fluffy towel. And what towel? 

Don’t sigh in exasperation over there! 

You see, these are important questions because they can prevent you from unconsciously damaging your hair. 

Before we get into the procedure, it’s wise that you should know first what the fuss is all about.  

According to Leon Van-Gorken of Unilever Research and Development, your hair becomes extra vulnerable to what comes in contact with it when it is wet. 

When the hair is wet, the cuticles slightly lift, and friction against it weakens it to a certain degree. Eventually, this causes fraying, and even hair fall.

Now that you can appreciate why care should be taken into your towel-drying routine, here is the right way to towel-dry your hair.

  1.  After washing your hair, squeeze out most of the water, going downwards from roots to tips. 
  2. Divide your hair into sections and gently pat each section with a towel. Never rub it! Vigorous rubbing lifts the cuticles and causes frizz
  3. Repeat as necessary.

If you have long hair or find yourself in a hurry, you can also try this on-the-go method of wrapping your hair. 

  1. After washing and detangling, bend forward and let your hair fall downward. Make sure every strand is in that direction. 
  2. Place the bottom of the towel at your nape and let the towel rest over your hair.
  3. Wrap the towel around your hair and twist it close to the forehead. Do not twist it too much, but just enough that it won’t fall when you move.
  4. Flip the towel and if you prefer, tuck it at the nape of your neck
  5. Leave it for 20 minutes.

An excellent option for those with wavy and curly hair is hair plopping. It might be the best way of drying your curls without frizz but with increased definition! 

Without further ado, here’s your guide to curly-approved towel-dried hair.

  1. After washing, scrunch out excess water from your hair. Apply your leave-in conditioner and preferred stylers. 
  2. Lay a microfiber towel (or a long-sleeved shirt) on the bathroom counter. 
  3. Flip your hair over and ensure it is at the center of the towel, then gently press up your curls towards your scalp.
  4. Take the top part (away from you) and then fold it over the nape of your neck. 
  5. Take the bottom part of the towel (close to you) and tuck it in close to your forehead. This part would look like there are “wings” on the side. 
  6. Twist the tucked-in bottom part to ensure it is snug and from there, twist the “wings” from the center to the end. 
  7. Tie the sides at the back of your neck. 

That’s all set and done! 

And to ensure you will get it perfect, the best towel to use for drying is a microfiber towel.

They have finer and softer fibers, so they won’t be rough on your hair. Plus, they are more absorbent, so less contact time with your hair!

If you don’t have a microfiber towel yet, you can use a soft cotton t-shirt for now. That’s certainly better than the rough terrycloth of your bath towel! 

What are the benefits of towel drying hair? 

There’s undoubtedly some comfort in knowing that you only have to finesse your technique in your old hair rituals to have better hair rather than continuously adding products or buying all sorts of tools available. 

Towel drying may be simple, but it offers advantages over heat styling and even air drying! 

A rest from the heat

One of the worst enemies of your hair is heat

And while blow-drying isn’t technically the villain of the story, this study observes damage in the hair surface due to heat from hair drying. 

While that may appear superficial, according to Ro Johnson, Ph.D., principal scientist in beauty care at Procter and Gamble, this type of damage on the surface could expose the biomolecules comprising your hair strands, leading to breakage. 

Towel-drying saves your hair from this eventual breakage. It offers an alternative to constantly blasting your hair to dry it quicker. 

Better than au-natural

Did you know that air-drying can be potentially damaging to your hair? Yes, it is true! 

Your hair absorbs 30% of its own weight in water. 

It’s glutinous; that’s what it means. 

After washing, when your hair is dripping wet, it continually gobbles up water until it swells up and cracks the cell membrane complex holding your cuticles together. This could lead to permanent damage.

That’s why towel-drying with microfiber is essential. 

The excellent absorbent quality takes off the excess water fast enough for you to not damage your hair and still be early for your appointment! 

Side-stepping build-ups

Safety precautions like heat protectants are a necessity when you constantly blow-dry. 

But as much as you need it, you also have to recognize that applying products every day to your hair will cause build-up. 

Scalp health is essential for healthy hair growth. Thus, you should try to side-step loading your hair with products as much as possible.

Towel-drying makes it easier to prevent scalp build-up, primarily if you use styling tools and various products. 

It may not entirely prevent it, but it will be a break your hair will need, even occasionally.

CHECK OUT: The Healthiest Way to Dry your Hair


How long does it take to towel-dry hair?

How long does it take to towel-dry hair

It depends on your hair. 

Wrapping your hair, turban style, will make it a faster process, especially for those with thick and long hair. 

Generally, towel-drying your hair takes 20-30 minutes. The breeze will take care of it after.

Does towel-dried hair mean damp hair?

Yes, that is the “towel-dried,” meaning that is correct. 

Although if you want to be accurate about it, it should already be slightly damp when you finish towel-drying your hair. 

Does towel-dried hair mean completely dry? 

By definition, you can’t have completely dry hair when you towel dry. 

Towel-drying only involves putting a towel over your hair and waiting for about 20 minutes. It excludes the air-drying afterward. Thus, the state of your hair when you towel dry is damp. 

You might think that the longer you wrap your towel around your hair, the drier it gets. 

That’s incorrect

Your towel will absorb a lot of moisture from your hair, and that won’t evaporate quickly due to the small surface area. This will keep your towel damp and your hair as well. 

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