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Hair Dryer: Does it Damage Hair?

Hair Dryer

With everything being said about heat damage that comes with using hot hair styling tools, you might start looking at your curler, hair dryer or hair straightener can start looking like dangerous tools for your hair’s health. To make hair styling less scary and more fun, let’s try to answer the old-age question: do hair dryers cause hair damage?

The short answer? Yes—but only if you do it with wet hair. Applying any type of heat on wet hair can result to little holes in your hair’s protective layer or cuticle. Your hair may not be able to handle heat if it is directly applied to it. As a result, the outer surface of your hair can end up damaged. Once the cuticles start breaking off your hair, it exposes the lipids and proteins that make up each strand, and that is when you start to see breakage.

If you don’t want things to get even worse whenever you blow dry your hair, you must know how to use your dryer properly. According to experts, you can protect the cuticle by filling the holes with something like protein—maybe collagen or amino acids. You can get these from hair styling products. It’s important to use a leave-in conditioner and comb your hair thoroughly before using a blow dryer. Any heat protectant product works too.

How Blow Drying Affects Hair

The kind of blow dryer and the settings you’re using can also significantly affect how much heat is getting to your hair. Some blow dryers use negative ions to smoothen hair while you style it. Some, like the Dyson Supersonic (which costs around $400) comes with heat and air control that helps minimizes hair damage. But regardless of what hair dryer you use, remember to avoid using the highest heat setting. When you use a blow dryer and the heat is too high, it can hurt your scalp. Think about how it can hurt your hair too. Professionals usually use medium heat and medium airflow.

Another way to make hair-drying safer for your hair is to wait until your hair is damp or semi-dry (around 70-80% dry) before you power up the blow dryer. Try to get a lot of moisture out of your hair before you start using the dryer. You can also blot your hair using a microfiber towel if you want to speed up the hair drying process.

But what if your hair is being extra dry and frizzy? Let your hair dry naturally (air drying) and let your blow dryer take a rest.

Debunking Myths About Hair Dryers

As we have explained earlier, hair dryers are only damaging to the hair when you use them on wet hair. Experts actually think leaving your hair to dry naturally isn’t better than using a blow dryer. In fact, some experts believe it’s less damaging to use a hair dryer. Irreversible damage occurs to hair when heat is applied to it while it’s wet.

So, what does this mean for your morning hair styling routine? To dry your hair without damaging it, check out these easy-to-follow rules:

  1. Towel Dry –before anything else, dry your hair with a towel first. This is important especially if you’re trying to get your hair from wet to dry quickly, without using heat. First towel dry your hair gently by blotting, squeezing and scrunching the water out of it. Avoid ruffling your hair with the towel as this will also ruffle the cuticles resulting to damage and visible frizz. You might consider investing on a high-quality towel or turban with superior absorption technology to cut drying time in half.
  2. Avoid Brushing Wet Hair –brushing hair while it’s wet breaks it. This is a fact. Since dry hair is stronger than wet hair, it can hold up against brushing, so try to use your brush once your hair feels touch dry. Don’t know how to deal with the knots? Simple! If you have to brush wet hair to get rid of the knots, use a lubricant to provide slip. You can opt for hair oil or leave-in conditioner. If your hair becomes knotted even though you start off without using a hairbrush, hit the hair dryer’s cold shot first.
  3. Set Your Hair Dryer’s Setting to Low –until all water in your hair has evaporated, you should use only low or medium heat for it. Stop and move to another section or part once you feel the hair heating up. Just because hair dries more quickly with a higher heat setting doesn’t mean it’s good for your hair. It’s better to take your time and take it slow.
  4. Style Your Hair with Heat Once it’s Dry –we already know that styling your hair while it’s wet can cause damage, so it’s always a good idea to style it when it’s dry—but do keep a check on the temperature. Styling hair with heat that’s over 210 degrees can result to permanent hair damage. The best temperature to heat up and dry hair quickly without damaging it is at around 185 degrees. This applies to all hair types. Heating your hair to the highest heat setting doesn’t only burn it but also weakens it. If you have colored hair, it can cause the color to fade or change. Hair dyes are very sensitive to temperature.


Although there’s a lot that has been said about hair dryers and other styling products that use heat, they are not necessarily bad or damaging to the hair. It all boils down on knowing how to use the tool correctly and using heat protectant products for your hair. Commercially available blow dryers nowadays are relatively safe to use for one’s hair. But it doesn’t mean that there’s no risk of damage. However, we can minimize the risks by using heat only on dry hair and setting the dryer’s temperature to a ‘safe’ level. Once you have all that figured out, you can enjoy styling your hair the way you want it to! Have fun!

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