Air Drying Relaxed African American Hair

Copyright MMXI,, Reprinted with permission.One look at any hair care forum and you will find loads of ladies who are perplexed or frustrated by air drying.  This is unfortunate as air drying is one of Tressbuzz’s top methods to retain length.  I will even go so far as to say that I have rarely seen a relaxed sister who frequently blowdries on a hot setting retain anything beyond shoulder length.

Natural ladies fair much better, however even they can be subject to breakage due to overstretched, dessicated tresses.  Air drying allows normalization of moisture levels as the cuticle and cortex do not have all the moisturization forced out of them with hot air.  Further, air drying utilizes almost no stretching or manipulation – both of which can be extremely damaging.

Air drying is a learned skill, but once you have its secrets under your belt you will never turn back.  You will find that the moisture and health you gain from air drying are things you won’t want to live without!  With a little knowledge, you can put the days of puffy, A-frame style air dries to rest.  Here are the facts every air drying diva should know:

1. The beneficial effects of air drying are cumulative.  Over time you will see increased health.  Do not give up after just one try.

2. Air dry on a lazy Sunday while kicking around the house or in the evening while doing chores or watching TV.  This allows sufficient time to get a great result.

3. Wear an absorbant towel or t-shirt on the hair for a few minutes post-shower (BEFORE product application) to absorb excess water.

4. Product is important.  You want to moisturize and seal while the hair is still damp.  A moisturizer or nutritious leave-in sealed with a light oil smooths the cuticle and adds weight and moisturization.

5. Refrain from overloading the hair with too much product.  Excess gels, mousses and foams can be drying and result in a hard, brittle airdry.  They can also gunk up the hair and lead to an air dry that is weighed down and lifeless.

6. Make sure the hair is fully detangled.  Strands that are bunched up or crimped are going to dry matted so make sure to detangle and smooth thoroughly.

7. The first hour of the air drying process is key.  This is when damp hair has the most “memory” and can be directed what to do.  At this point you want to smooth into a cross wrap, large bantu or bun and tie the entire head down with a silky dorag or scarf to lay tresses down.  Short haired ladies can simply detangle, smooth tresses and tie them down.

8. For this stage of the air dry avoid cotton scarves and dorags as they will absorb product, moisture and nutrients right out of the hair.

9. After the first hour the scarf or dorag can be removed to allow strands to dry freely.

10. Once the hair is mostly dry ends can be “trained” by rolling them onto a flexirod, satin rollers or magnetic rollers.  This ensures smooth, healthy, bumped ends without the need for heat styling.

As with most hair care skills – practice makes perfect.  Once you discover your magic combination of product, method and timing your strands will thank you with moist luscious health and enhanced length retention so put down the tools of torture and start air drying!



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About tressbuzz

Do-it-yourself hair care is in my blood! I have been taking care of my own hair for as long as I can remember. When I realized that many salon procedures were not to my liking, I took matters into my own hands: I have been self-relaxing and performing all salon-grade procedures on myself for years and have gained an expertise that has allowed me to share my secrets with other African American women. I combined two of my vocations - fashion model and writer - and developed a blogzine and youtube channel that focus on style and relaxed hair care. My passion is assisting other African American women in taking control of their hair and achieving lengths unknown!

From Around The Web

From Around The Web


  1. 1

    Great read! I wish I knew all this when I was relaxed. Blow drying and flat ironing was the name of the game for me in those days and you are right, I had shoulder length thin lifeless hair!

  2. 3

    I’m working on making my hair healthy and it is very difficult to not use heat for drying. I am relaxed and is working on stretching it but the newgrowth makes air trying a headache!! HELP…..

    • 4

      Many ladies blow out or lightly flat iron their roots after air drying especially when stretching. New growth is no excuse to give up on air drying!

    • 5

      Hey girlfriend. I feel your pain!! I am currently at 16 weeks and the number one thing that helps me is switching to mostly cowashing (conditioner only washing). This and oil pre-poos are a godsend. If you have extreme new growth the best technique is firm bunning for the first hour or so. You can get ideas from my airdrying video: Thanks for your support!

    • 6

      When I’m trying to stretch a relaxer I do braid outs and that helps me deal with the new growth without having to fight with my hair.

    • 7

      I also have a relaxer and have started air drying about two months ago and I absolutely love it! I’m trying to increase my hair growth. I recommend shampooing your hair, following with a deep conditioner, then a leave in conditioner. I always let my air dry a little before combing in it due to the hair being at is weakest state when wet. Once hair is dry enough to part into sections, I use a spray bottle to wet the hair after it is detangled and then apply a roller to each section. So basically, I rollerset my hair after shampooing and then let it air dry. It works just as good as sitting under a hair dry, if not better. It will take a while to air dry so I would do it during a day when you have no where to go. My hair looks shiny and healthier after I finish the process.

  3. 8
    Deborah Ayoade says:

    This is exactly what I needed! Thank you so much!

  4. 9

    I wish I’d known about this when I was relaxed. I tried to grow my hair long in vain. Oh well, you live and learn

  5. 10
    Chrissyrenee says:

    I take care of my hair at home, I go to the salon once every two months. I read and experiment and in this category I air dry with my rollers. So once I do my wet (not dripping) set that is it for me until the next day, especially on a Sunday. Apply my leave ins and I am good to go. I do not always use heat, even for deep conditioning. I live in the tropics so just the heat from the environment and my steam cap for an hour or hour and a half does me well. 

  6. 12

    I am often afraid to wash my relaxed hair because I assume it will magically “poof up” again. I have very coarse, dry, thick but medium to long hair. I know that washing and deep conditioning should not just be left up to the stylist, but I get so lazy because again I feel like the straightness and smoothness will never be attained again. What are some suggestions for washing hair a few weeks after the relaxer to maintain healthy growing hair. Thank you

    • 13

      Practice, practice, practice! Once you’ve got your roller setting regimen down, your at home results will surpass anything that your stylist can do!

  7. 14

    Really looking forward to seriously trying this. I was told that there was NO WAY to air dry relaxed hair by various hair stylist (maybe because they didn’t want me to figure out how to do my hair myself!!!

Speak Your Mind