Ask a Beauty Editor: How to Dry Your Hair Faster Without a Blow Dryer

Follow this routine if you don’t want to show up to work looking like you just showered 30 minutes ago.

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Ever wanted to pick the brain of a beauty editor? Or get beauty product recommendations from someone who has tried them all? You've come to the right place. In our new weekly series, Ask a Beauty Editor, beauty editor Hana Hong answers your biggest skincare, haircare, and makeup questions, all submitted by Real Simple readers. Tune in every Tuesday and submit your own burning beauty questions here for a chance to be featured.

Reader question: Hair dryers are awful. Is there a better way to dry my hair for work? - @terikarobonik

Based on your question, I'm going to assume that you shower in the morning. So do I—and although I love my a.m. soaks, sopping wet hair is never fun when you have somewhere to be. Drying your hair is a lengthy process, and for those of us with thick, curly, or long hair (raises hand), it requires intentionally scheduling it into your day.

Now, of course, you can use a hair dryer to expedite this process, but 1) I want to avoid heat damage, and 2) I'm too lazy. In other words, you've come to the right place because I have mastered the art of air-drying over the course of many years. (TBH, I haven't used a hair dryer since high school.)

If you want a short and sweet answer, wearing towel turbans while getting ready is the classic option to consider. The moisture-wicking fibers will help absorb more water compared to strictly air-drying.

However, the longer answer (and my preferred route if I want a better finish) warrants a few extra steps. But don't worry—they're not difficult or extensive. If I want my air-dried hair to look like a professional blowout, there are more products involved, but if my goal is just to dry my hair pronto, these are the minimalist steps I take. Feel free to copy my routine so you can sleep in longer and get out the door faster.

Blot Your Hair With a Microfiber Towel

Effectively drying your hair starts with the towel you use. Microfiber towels are my towel of choice—they're known for their moisture-wicking properties, meaning they can soak up more water than other towels can without you having to wring the life out of your strands. Another plus: It will allow you to avoid unnecessary split ends and breakage from harsh friction. Why spend all that effort coddling your hair in the shower if you're just gonna rough it up with a shaggy towel?

My fave: Act+Acre Intelligent Hair Towel ($30;, which features a super-soft waffle texture that soaks up water like a dream.

Use a Wide-Tooth Comb

While your hair is still completely wet, run a wide-tooth comb through your hair. Why a comb? The individual teeth will separate your hair and promote better airflow, which will in turn accelerate dry time.

Air-dry and Rough-dry Until It's 30% Dry

This is the part that will require some time, but it shouldn't take too long thanks to the steps you just completed. In the meantime, you can go about your morning routine, and by the time you get dressed and complete your skincare routine, you should be ready to proceed.

While air-drying, simultaneously rough-dry your hair. You may or may not have heard of the term, but you probably have seen your hairstylist do it before. It simply means tousling your hair with only your fingers (usually tossing from one side to another), focusing on the roots to create more volume. Continue this process until your hair is 30% dry.

Apply a Quick-dry Lotion

Styling hair that is 30% dry is much more effective than tackling it when completely wet or completely dry. When your hair is semi-dry, you can help accelerate the remaining 70% with a quick-dry lotion or serum. Look for products with the words "quick-dry" or "air-dry," which are formulated differently from products labeled "blow-dry."

While blow-dry creams contain polymers that are activated by heat and distribute heat along the hair shaft, air-dry formulas are generally made with starches that soak moisture from the hair, along with smoothing elements that help you achieve a sleeker, frizz-free finish.

My personal recommendation is Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Air Dry Creme ($11;, which features a proprietary strengthening complex designed to smooth the appearance of split ends and damaged cuticles.

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