It’s eight o’clock. You can’t believe it. You slept through your alarm clock on the very day you have an important meeting with your boss, your boss’s boss, and her boss. Your meeting starts at 8:30. Your job is a fifteen minute drive away. You rush to the shower and stay long enough to get just a little sudsy. You throw on the first thing you see in your closet and pray that it matches the pumps by the door. You stop in front of the mirror on your way out to unravel your twists and discover in complete horror that they are still wet! You’re devastated, but there’s nothing you can do. Time is ticking and taking that blow dryer out of the bottom drawer, plugging it up, and putting it to your hair for two seconds (because that’s all the time you have to sacrifice) is not going to solve the problem. All you can do is dry those tears (because you can’t dry your hair), finish unraveling those twists, and walk out of that door with your head held high.
We’ve all been there—mistakenly assumed that eight hours of air drying overnight would do the trick only to realize the next morning how wrong we really were. So, why is our natural hair still wet after all that tender, loving, moisturizing care we put into it the night before, and how can we ensure that it is dry by morning?
Redundancy may be the main culprit for why our hair is still wet by morning. The importance of moisture has been drilled into our natural heads since we made the switch, and like obedient little minions, we moisturize our hair with water, moisturize it again with a coat of leave-in conditioner, and seal with an oil. Although this process isn’t wrong, doing it as a nightly maintenance routine almost always results in damp hair by morning. You can save yourself from the frustrated morning take down by skipping a step. Hold off on the styler or leave-in conditioner. Instead, when you twist or braid your hair at night, moisturize and seal with only the essentials: water and an oil like EVOO, castor oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil. This combo will dry faster while still nourishing you hair.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to over-moisturize your hair. Too much of this “good thing” can leave your hair feeling limp and mushy, as if it’s still damp, and eventually all of that moisture will cause the hair to become more porous. That, in turn, will lead to moisture passing right on through it, making it feel perpetually dry and frizzy. When you said you wanted your hair to be dry by morning, this was not the kind of dry you had in mind.
To avoid over-moisturizing your hair, style it dry. Although when I say dry, I don’t mean completely dry. You still may want to rub an oil and water mixture into your hands and then twist or braid your hair so that it gets a little love before bedtime. So technically, you’re not styling it dry but you’re not going to bed with soaking wet hair either.
If you believe your hair is too dry to skip the re-moisturizing step with a leave-in conditioner, only use a conservative amount.
Spritz some water onto your hands instead of directly onto your hair and finger detangle each section with wet hands so that your hair is damp instead of wet. Rub that small amount of leave-in conditioner between your hands and then onto your hair. Then seal that moisture in with your choice of oil and braid or twist your hair. Because you didn’t soak your hair in water and add a water-based, extra-moisturizing conditioner on top of that, your hair should be nice and dry by morning.
Not Enough Time
Unfortunately, unless you’re a five-year-old child, it is nearly impossible to get eight hours of sleep every night. Most of us probably only get six hours, some even five or fewer. So, is less than five hours enough time for soaking wet hair to air dry? Maybe, if we’re lucky. But it’s never safe to assume anything when it comes to our unpredictable natural hair. If you want to make sure that your hair is dry in five hours, stick a dryer to it before you go to bed.
Sit under your hooded dryer, diffuse, or blow dry for 15 to 30 minutes. Unfortunately, this takes away from precious sleeping time, so if you’re one of the lucky few who still has one of those old school dryers (what I like to call the blow-up bonnet), dust it off, put it on, and fall asleep underneath it. Is falling asleep while under the dryer dangerous? Probably so! We don’t recommend it, but if you were to put the machine that connects to your “blow-up bonnet” underneath your pillow, we also cannot deny that its vibration won’t put you to sleep. Just make sure to keep the setting on cool, and if you do fall asleep, hopefully you will wake up before you catch on fire!
If all else fails and you still wake up with damp hair, put on a headband, pick it out and make your boss and co-workers fall in love with your big, luscious Afro. That’s the beauty of being natural.