We asked a scalp expert if air-drying your hair really is worse than using a hairdryer.

When it comes to beauty, it can feel like a new set of 'rules' pops up every day. From haircare to makeup and skincare, it seems almost impossible to keep on top of what's 'right' and 'wrong'. 

It can feel overwhelming. Confusing. Even when writing and talking about beauty is literally your job *gestures to self*.

But there's one particular viral beauty opinion we need to discuss. Because it's been floating around for a while now, and it goes against everything we were ever taught.

In case you didn't read the headline (nice!), it's about your hair. More specifically, how you dry it.

Because apparently, air-drying your hair causes way more damage to your scalp and strands than using heat — and, look... we're going to need to take a seat.

Just search #airdryinghair on TikTok and you'll find millions upon millions of videos – a lot of which speak to the concerns of air-drying your hair over heat-drying your hair. And it's got us confused as hell.

Watch: Looking for the best haircuts over 40? Check out Laura Jackel's hair transformation. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

We're talking about stuff like this:

@abbets Blow Drying Vs Air Drying 🤍 #hairbeforeandafter #hairblowouttutorial #hairblowdryer #hairblowdrying #blowdryvsairdry #airdryhair #hairdamage #hairexpert #hair101 ♬ original sound - ABBEY 🤍🕊️

And this viral clip posted by Scarlett Rocourt, CEO of the haircare brand Wonder Curl.

@wondercurlceo #airdryhair #naturalhair #frizzyhair #healthyhairtips #healthyhair #curlyhair ♬ original sound - Bone Broth Bastard

So, is there actually any truth to it?

Well, according to a study, it was found that, "although using a hair dryer causes more surface damage than natural drying, using a hairdryer at a distance of 15 centimetres (about six inches) with continuous motion causes less damage than drying hair naturally."


Yep. Anyone feel like their whole life has been a lie? (We do).

To get to the bottom of air-drying vs heat drying situation, we spoke to trichologist (aka scalp and hair expert) Carolyn Evans-Frost from Absolique Hair Health Clinic. Because it turns out air-drying your wet hair isn't as good as you might think...

Here's what she said when we frantically cornered her and asked all the questions.

Does air-drying hair cause damage? 

In short, yes. "Air-drying won't damage hair but can be negative for the scalp," said Evans-Frost.

"For longer hair or thicker hair, air-drying can leave the scalp wet for too long, and I see it turn into a scalp condition over a period of time. Anyone with a scalp condition, scalp scale or scalp oil should dry the scalp.

"When bacteria is involved, you don’t want to leave the scalp skin wet or even damp for a long time." 


Additionally, tying hair up while wet is a no-no. We feel like we already knew this though, right? RIGHT YOU GUYS??

"If you notice your hair is still wet when you let it down, you should take up scalp drying (using heat). Then the hair can air-dry.

"Air-drying hair can also weigh it down. So for hair loss and hair thinning, quickly blasting the scalp dry with safe medium heat can create more volume."

What's the best way to dry your hair? 

When it comes to the best way to dry your hair, Evans-Frost recommends a combination of both for best results.

She said, "Blast the scalp dry with the hair anti-gravity – upside down on cool or medium heat. You can then air-dry or finish with a hair dryer, but I would be using a heat protector if completely drying on medium heat."


And take it easy on the brushing and hair ties, folks.

"High heat and lots of brushing can damage wet or damp hair. Hair is more elastic when wet, so will stretch and cause hair breakage if using too much tension or very bristly brushes."

Is using a hairdryer bad?

Yes, we can still damage our hair through heat styling, but not if you do it the right way. According to our expert, it's totally fine to use heat on your hair – so long as it's medium heat.

"It should not burn your hair or scalp. And as mentioned before, if you're completely drying your hair, you must use heat protectors. If you see smoke coming off the hair or from the hair dryer, it is damaging heat."

We feel seen. And silly.

As Evans-Frost explained, "I always find balance is best. I recommend using medium heat to scalp dry and then air-dry the hair, if time permits. Or completely dry the hair on medium heat, not using too much brushing until it's dry. Then you can tie your hair up.

"I have had the opportunity to test many drying and styling tools, and a good gauge is if it's too hot to handle, it will be damaging the hair if you’re not using heat protector.

"And even then, where there's smoke, there is fire."

So, there you have it. If you want to avoid damage to your scalp and hair, use a heat protector and blast it on medium only.

How do you dry your hair? Are you an air-dry person or a heat tool person? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Instagram/@aliciaanelsonn; @abbets

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