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I've Learned To Dry My Curls Without Damaging Them—Here's How

These hacks prevent frizz, too.
PHOTO: Getty Images

The way you dry your hair can have a huge impact on your curls: Get it wrong and you're left with a frizzy mess. Get it right, and you've got stunning, silky coils. A lot of people assume that there are only two ways to do it: with a hairdryer, or without. But there are actually plenty of tips and tricks to help your hair dry silky and soft.

Lizzie Carter, Founder of Only Curls, says, "If you're jumping out of the shower, wrapping and rubbing your hair with a regular towel, STOP! The uneven surface of a cotton towel roughens up the cuticles and causes frizz. Switch to a microfiber towel, these leave cuticles intact and absorb just the right amount of moisture for frizz-free curls.”

Now that we’ve got that ~important~ step out of the way, it's time to talk drying techniques. My curls are naturally a 2C, but since bleaching them countless times and subjecting them to various keratin treatments, they've regressed into more of a 2B, meaning my curls have less of a ringlet shape, more of a wave, with loads of frizz. For the most part, I find my hair easier to wear naturally when it's smooth at the roots and curly at the ends, as this reduces some of the volume (my hair is exceptionally thick) and makes it less unruly. Nowadays, I rarely ever use straighteners on my hair, so I had to develop a way to create this look, sans the styler. Here's how I do it:

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  1. After washing, apply your styling products as usual. Don't be scared of using a small amount near the roots. I tend to lightly smooth whatever is left on my hands after applying it all over my strands. This helps with frizz and flyways, which are always more prominent around the hairline.
  2. You should have already detangled your hair with a wide-toothed comb in the shower. Then, with a fine-toothed comb, only go through the area that you want to dry straight. I tend to stop just above my ears.
  3. Split your hair into a center or side parting, depending on where you want it to sit. Gather it into a low bun at the base of your neck, making sure there is enough traction to stretch out and straighten your strands at the top.
  4. As my hair dries, I sometimes go back through the top with a fine-toothed comb, always smoothing it down with my hands after.
  5. Be aware that your hair will dry with a big kink in it if you use a normal hair tie. I always twist it into a bun and then use a coiled hair tie like this if I need more grip.
  6. As my hair dries, I'll take it out the bun occasionally to prevent kinking and then twist it back up.
  7. Make sure your hair is at least 90 percent dry before you go to sleep or all your hard work will be undone.
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      Remember, this technique reduces the curls without using any heat; if you want to fully embrace them you have the option of letting it air dry naturally or you can try using a diffuser. Michele Scott Lynch, Founder of Bouclème, recommends: "When drying curly hair, it needs to have the least amount of movement in order to maintain definition and prevent frizz. If diffusing, use a medium heat and strength setting, for loose curls or waves cup the hair into the diffuser to help increase curl formation, for medium/tight curls hold the diffuser a few centimeters away from hair."

      Lizzie adds that, like with most things, being too heavy-handed with the diffuser can cause more damage than good. "Diffusing can help reduce frizz, but if done incorrectly, it can do the opposite. After applying your products, set your hair dryer to the medium, cool setting and dry in large sections.

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      "Tip the hair forward into the diffuser bowl and lift upwards towards your scalp. Hold it still until that section is around 80 percent dry. Continue doing this in sections until all your hair is around 90 percent dry and then give your head a shake and a very gentle scrunch to enhance the volume."

      "Some people like to dry their curls fully, others prefer to diffuse to 50 to 80 percent dry and then leave the rest to air dry," says Michele. "Diffusers will give volume and can also create curl shrinkage. If you want more volume control and elongated curls, air drying or using a hooded dryer are best. Avoid touching your hair until completely dry to prevent frizzing." Noted.

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      This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.