Trying to style and dry curly hair comes with a huge learning process. The default hair routine (shampoo, conditioner, towel dry/blow dry) was designed for people with straight or minimally wavy hair in mind; that’s why it doesn’t enhance or work well for people with curly hair.
If you were raised like I was around people who had no idea how to take care of your hair, your curly hair ”routine” looked something like this: you washed your hair, brushed it once while it was wet, either waited 19 hours for it to fully dry into limp not defined curls or blow dried it into a giant puff, and then brushed it into a lion mane after it was fully dry.
It’s no wonder I hated my hair in middle school. I looked absolutely awful.
When I first started doing the Curly Girl Method, the hardest thing for me to figure out was how to dry my hair without messing up my curls. I owned a diffuser, but didn’t know how to use it properly and therefore, always ended up with a head full of flat and frizzy curls. Some days, I’d let it air dry, but it would always take forever and they turn out the same way.
I know I can’t be the only one who struggle with this part of taking care of their curly hair so back in August, I did some more research, did some trial and error on my own head, and found, what I feel like, are the most effective ways to dry your curls to share with you all today.
While I won’t be going over how to style your curls before drying your hair in today’s post, I will include post-drying style tips at the end of the list because I personally count it as part of the drying process.
Now if you’re doing the curly girl method, this technically isn’t allowed, but I find it to be the most effective drying way in terms of curl shape and time it takes to dry your hair.
After styling, simply attach your diffuser attachment to your hair dryer and turn on the hair dryer to medium speed and heat (high speed and high heat create frizz whereas low heat and low speed are ineffective). Gently flip your hair completely over and hover the diffuser around the roots; this helps the hair dry faster without drying out the curls and creating frizz. The more you touch your hair in the drying process, the frizzier it gets. Repeat this process on all sides of the head (flip all hair to the left, flip all hair to the right, flip all hair to the back) to ensure all of the roots completely dry.
Once you complete that step, you can either air dry the rest of your head or place your hand behind the curls and hover the diffuser over the mids and ends. You want to avoid doing the scrunch-and-hold drying method (where you hold a section of curls against your head until they’re dry) because you’ll dry out your ends and create frizz.
This is probably the easiest way to dry your curly hair, but it can take an incredibly long time depending on how well your hair holds moisture.
Once you‘ve finished styling your curls, if you choose to air dry, you’re going to want to create movement in your hair while it dries to avoid limp and lifeless curls. I recommend walking around the house constantly and gently flipping your hair from side to side and front to back in order to encourage volume and movement. You can use your hand to scoop and flip your hair or you can do a very gentle hair flip by leaning forward and slowly moving your hair from one side to another. Either way works and should not create frizz.
This is the "love it and leave it" method for drying your hair. Plopping is basically pinning all of your curls up onto your head in a cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel to dry to create volume and carefully crafted curls.
Take a cotton tee (I recommend a long sleeve) or a microfiber towel and place it on a chair or a low table. Gently flip and place all of your hair onto the cloth.
If you are using a T-shirt, pull the bottom up over your curls and then use the sleeves to tie it around your head creating a mini turban.
If you are using a microfiber towel, if it does not have buttons like some do, place it long ways on the table, place your head onto it, pull the top down, and use the long sides to tie it off.
Gentle Towel Pressing
For this option, you’ll need a microfiber towel or a cotton tee to dry your hair. Once you’ve finished styling, flip all of your hair over to one side of your head (front, back, left, or right) and with the microfiber towel or tee in hand, gently scoop up your curls and slowly press them up and into your roots. Let the cloth absorb some of the moisture from that section of hair, gently and slowly release, and repeat on another section of curls.
You can do this method with one or two hands, but be very careful to be gentle as to not scrunch out the gel cast so you don’t end up with frizzy curls. This is not a quick process, and I personally recommend pairing and following it up with another drying style, such as diffusing or air drying, if you are looking to dry your hair faster.
Bonus: Post-Drying Style Tips
Once your hair is completely dry, your curls (if you used gel in your hair before drying, which I do recommend for longer lasting curls) will feel crunchy to the touch. This is completely normal; do not panic. I like to wait about an hour or two after I’ve completely dried my hair before I do these steps just to ensure that all of the product has set in place.
Lean over and flip all of your hair over to the front of your head. Start by pressing the curls up towards the head and scrunching out and breaking up the gel cast.
I do want to clarify that when I say scrunch, I’m referring to more of a repeated squeeze. Try not to rub the strands of hair while you do this as to not create tons of frizz and broken curls.
Once your hair is soft to the touch, because it should be once you’ve scrunched it all, slip your fingers up your forehead and into the roots of your hair and gently scratch your scalp and shake the roots of your hair. This is called fluffing, and is a step in the post-drying process that helps to create volume. It’s similar to teasing, but creates a more natural voluminous look for curly hair.
To close this post, I've added a couple photos above of what my own hair looks like before and after drying. I personally diffuse all of my roots before letting my mids and ends completely dry before scrunching out the gel cast.
That's all for today! I hope you enjoy today's post, and comment below what drying method you've found works best for your own hair.
Take a shot for all of the flat frizzy curls I used to have and toast to getting defined and voluminous curls now.