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To Towel Dry, Or Not To Towel Dry? A Hairstylist's Tip For Soft, Frizz-Free Hair

June 13, 2020
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If you love a good air dry or wash-and-go, you probably already know this, but let's say it up top: Styling products are your friends. Be it oils, curl creams, or gels, locking in moisture is key to holding those strands in place and keeping frizz at bay. 

You may already know to apply those products post-shower (a moisture-locking agent needs moisture, no?), but there's a slight nuance to keep in mind. According to hairstylist and founder of Hair Rules, Anthony Dickey, it's important to know how wet your strands should be before raking in stylers. And—no surprise—it has everything to do with hair type. 

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To towel dry, or not to towel dry? 

As mentioned, you'll want to apply styling product on wet hair in order for them to work most effectively. But should you leave your strands dripping or damp? Dickey explains: Those with curlier, coarser hair (curl types 3 to 4, typically) might have a shorter window once they step out of the shower—those curls are prone to frizz as soon as they're exposed to air. That's why, Dickey says, it's best for coarse-haired folk to apply product when their hair is sopping wet, as "that's when they have the least amount of frizz." 

In fact, he says, you may even want to stash your oils and creams in the shower with you; that way, you can easily slide them through your hair as soon as you rinse out your conditioner—so your products can seal in as much moisture as possible. Bonus: Leaving your stylers in-shower can save valuable shelf space and keep your bathroom clean (like, say, if you routinely find leave-in spray residue on your mirror or counter). 

On the flip side, if you have a looser curl structure with a finer texture, Dickey suggests towel drying your hair a bit before reaching for a lightweight product. That's because finer hair may require more volume (to avoid looking limp and oily—another unfortunate byproduct of summer sweat). And "if you put product on when it's sopping wet, it's just going to be flatter," Dickey explains. So for those with fine waves, you can get away with a quick towel dry before sliding in a styler, especially if you're looking for that extra bout of frizz-free fullness. 

If you do opt for the towel, be super gentle, or invest in a soft microfiber cloth (even a T-shirt works!): Vigorously rubbing your hair with a traditional towel roughs up the cuticle and causes more frizz and friction on your strands. "It has a sandpaper-like effect," says Dickey. 

Consider it your perfect ratio of wet hair.

The bottom line? You'll want to find that perfect balance of wet hair for your hair type—be it sopping wet or towel-dry damp. Regardless, you don't want to wait too long to put product in, says Dickey, as that's what makes your hair look dry (and what gives mousses and gels their rap for giving hair a crunchy feel). "It's always best to do your scrunching after you've applied the product, not before," he says. 

In terms of summer frizz, simply raking in product post-shower isn't a one-size-fits-all tip. As with most haircare advice, assessing your individual texture is key. 

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