How to Blow-Dry Your Hair Straight in a Matter of Minutes

Hit snooze one too many times? Try these stylist-approved blow-drying tips.

Someone blow-drying a woman's hair

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A solid DIY blowout tends to take some meticulous planning, with careful “hair math” involved. And while we’re all for a shampooing schedule, something as simple as exciting last-minute plans or hitting snooze can throw the entire system out of whack. 

If you have to look polished and put-together in record time, mastering a lightning-speed wash-and-dry is key — but you’ll need to take factors, like your hair texture, humidity levels, and the tools at your disposal into account. Here, we’ve tapped hair pros Venella Charmarti, stylist at Blandi on 5th in NYC and Adam Reed, London-based celebrity stylist and founder of Arkive Headcare, to break down the must-know tips and tricks that’ll help you blow-dry hair straight in a matter of minutes.

How to Prep Hair for a Fast Blowout

Before you even step out of the shower, squeeze as much water as you can out of your hair. “By squeezing out the water, you’ll have less moisture, and the blow-dry will take faster,” explains Reed. You can then use a towel to soak up any excess water; just be sure to blot or squeeze your hair to dry it rather than rubbing, as your hair is most fragile when wet. 

Chamarti recommends towel-drying hair with microfiber fabric, as it's gentler on the hair and cause less friction when towel drying. “The fibers used to make the towel are very thin, so they absorb water better than traditional towels,” she says. Microfiber products are available in a variety of different formats. Reed is a fan of the Aquis Waffle Hair Towel; you’ll also find turbans and even gloves and mittens, like Bounce Curl Hair-Drying Microfiber Mittens, which are great for textured hair. “You can use these to scrunch the hair to encourage the natural curl pattern and remove excess water, cutting drying time,” says Chamarti.

Next, choose your styling products, which will vary depending on your existing routine. While some hair textures may be able to get away with just a heat protectant (more on these in a second), wavy and curly hair may need more to achieve their desired style. “For a wavy or curly hair, more product usually means a longer drying time,” warns Chamarti. “A lot of products contain humectants and other ingredients that make your hair hold onto moisture, especially if you're using a lot.”

Right before you’re ready to bust out the hair dryer, spray on your heat protectant. “Everyone should use a heat protectant,” says Reed; these products help seal and smooth the cuticle as well as defend it from damage caused by hot tools. Consider a formula like Color Wow Speed Dry Blow Dry Spray or Redken Quick Blowout Heat Protectant Spray. Just remember, your mileage may vary with products like these; straight and fine hair will always dry faster than thick, curly hair. 

The Right Hair-Drying Technique for a Quick Blowout

Not all hair dryers are created equally, so your choice of tool absolutely matters when your goal is a smooth yet speedy blowout. “Ionic dryers are great for smoothing hair quickly,” says Chamarti. These work by releasing negative ions that attach themselves to any positively-charged ions in your hair (found in conditioning products and to some degree, water itself), helping moisture evaporate faster. The gold standard in this category is Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, which effectively dries hair without frying it, but we’re also fans of the more budget-friendly Conair Infinitipro SmoothWrap Hair Dryer, which has a high-torque motor and ceramic technology that’ll minimize heat damage. 

When it comes to actually using your hair dryer, you have two options: A gentle dry (Reed’s preferred method) or a rough dry (Chamarti’s pick). Reed recommends twisting the hair up into a rope shape and drying the surface, or letting it hang loosely down. “Move the dryer backwards and forwards so it’s waving the hair,” he says. “That will help to reduce moisture.”

Rough drying means that instead of any styling tools, you’ll be using your fingertips to comb through your strands. “When rough drying, I always recommend using a nozzle, using your hands to smooth the hair like a brush, and pointing the nozzle in the direction you want the cuticle to lay,” says Chamarti.

If you’re looking for volume, lift your hair off the scalp as you dry, always pointing the nozzle towards the ends; point the nozzle down, leaving hair loose for less volume. “It’s important to keep a bit of tension on the hair to help smooth it out, especially if you have any frizz to your hair,” Chamarti adds.

How far you hold your hair dryer from your head matters — while you might be inclined to turn up its temperature to maximum heat and press the nozzle against your strands to dry them faster, this will harm your hair. A distance of at least six inches is a good rule of thumb. “Hold the blowdryer a little farther away if you’re using the hottest setting,” says Chamarti. And while it may seem counterintuitive, Chamarti likes to finish blow drying with cold air. This will seal the cuticle, helping to set your hair’s smoothness and add extra shine. 

If you find yourself having more time from here (lucky you!), go ahead and start straightening. “Never use a styling iron or curling iron on any head that's less than 100 percent dry,” Reed says. But more likely than not, you’ll have to head out the door. You can quickly give your hair some polish with a brush or run a little serum through the ends, says Chamarti, who likes Sebastian Dark Oil, or a quick blast of Arkive The Mastery Hair Spray.

What to Do If Your Hair Isn't Fully Dry

If you’ve gotten your hair somewhat dry with your hair dryer but it’s still partly damp, it’s time to bring in the hair accessories, which can hide unfinished hair, says Reed. You can also opt for a style that will make your hair look good when you eventually let it down. “You can do braids, rollers, or heatless curls, but I wouldn't do any of these while the hair is very wet,” says Chamarti, lest you risk breakage. And be sure to not tie up your hair too tightly or for too long when hair is wet. “Only the outer layer will dry, not the inside, which can put you at risk for certain scalp infections — moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria,” she adds.

Above all, though, your best ally when rushing through styling is a solid haircut. As Chamarti puts it, “a good haircut should style itself.”  

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