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The Best Way to Dry Your Hair to Minimize Damage

When it comes to damaging your hair, which is worse: blow-drying or air-drying? Blasting your strands with hot air surely does more damage, right? Turns out, not so much. Yep, we were just as surprised as you are.

According to Dr. Joyce Park, who is a board-certified dermatologist based in Washington and the founder of virtual dermatology clinic Skin Refinery, there's a recent study that was done in South Korea that found that blow drying your hair can actually be better for your hair than air drying it—with a few rules, which are as follows:

  1. Always use a low heat setting.
  2. Keep the dryer 15 centimeters (or about 6 inches) away from your head.
  3. Continuously move the dryer so it's not concentrated on one area for too long.

While it's true that air drying your hair means it won't be exposed to heat, it doesn't account for the extended water exposure, which causes swelling to part of your hair shaft. When your hair shaft swells, it messes with the proteins within each strand and can lead to damage from the inside out.

The takeaway: The longer your hair is left damp or wet, the greater the chance for damage, so until further notice (because science is always subject to change as more studies are done), your best bet for keeping your strands healthy is to blow dry carefully, using the three tips outlined above.