Does your hair always flash dry? Or perhaps you’re on speculating whether it does. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.
Although flash drying is a pretty standard concept, most people are unaware of it. While doing this research, I bumped into several discussions and forums that had women of all backgrounds sharing flash drying knowledge, with some having their questions left unanswered.
It’s pretty commendable that individuals are learning more about their hair. However, most of them solely rely on online forums. Sadly, most of these online forums lack real hair experts or have fragments of information that make it difficult, let’s say, to come up with a practical hair routine. That’s why I took the liberty to enlighten you on flash drying.
In this post I’ll discuss all there’s about flash drying. You’ll find the answers to the following questions:
- What is flash drying your hair?
- Is flash drying bad or good for your hair?
- What are the causes of flash drying?
- What are ingredients that cause flash drying hair?
- How can I prevent flash drying my hair?
What is flash drying your hair?
Does your hair lose water immediately after you apply treatment or products? If so, then you’ve already experienced flash drying.
Just as the name implies, flash drying is when your hair loses moisture/water in a flash. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve moisturized it in most instances. Your wet hair almost immediately becomes brittle, hard, rough, and rigid, making management and styling difficult.
Flash drying happens with or without the application of products after cleaning—although the term mostly denotes quick drying after product application
Although flash drying happens to almost all hair types, it’s quite common among curly hair, because of its propensity to lose moisture fast.
Is flash drying bad or good for your hair?
It’s worth noting that while some people have embraced flash drying (seeing it as a unique feature of their hair), it isn’t a good thing. Why? Like most women, I bet you prefer not to deal with rough, frizzy, dry, or stiff hair.
Besides, if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you’d know the consequences of having brittle, dry, and frizzy hair.
In general, dryness, dullness, frizzing, and hardness make your hair brittle. On the other hand, brittle hair is usually rough when touched and is more likely to break when you pull or stretch it. Further, brittle hair doesn’t hold color well.
In a nutshell, flash drying is not healthy for your hair.
What are the causes of flash drying?
Before delving into the causes of flash drying, it’s necessary to explain the makeup of hair quickly.
First, human hair is an absorbent, bio-composite substance that absorbs water at varying rates depending on the surrounding humidity levels.
When our hair absorbs moisture, its diameter increases, this is significantly more noticeable during periods of high humidity, when there’s more moisture outside.
Nonetheless, our hairs’ water intake is bidirectional, as they either absorb or desorb (lose) moisture depending on the surrounding environment. Damaged strands are more sensitive to this—they’re thought to be more adversely affected by these changes in water equilibrium.
Some chemical agents and components can influence (or disrupt) this bidirectional movement of water molecules through the hair roots (in and out). Humectants, such as glycerin, are well-known components frequently utilized in hair products.
Other moisturizing substances can also preserve moisture content, albeit their capability to absorb water differs according to their chemical structure.
Humectant’s role in moisture loss
Humectants are water-absorbent chemical compounds. Some common examples include glycerin, urea, propylene glycol, sorbitol, some polyhydric alcohols, and starch-based compounds, including glucose and lactose.
These substances are great moisturizers, frequently incorporated into formulations to keep hair moisturized. However, when used in considerable quantities in low humidity circumstances, or dry conditions, they act differently. They can collect water particles from our hairs’ cortex and wash them out, reducing their moisture content.
Let’s, for example, use the example of glycerin. In general, glycerin will readily absorb water molecules from any source. When the atmosphere contains more water molecules, glycerin absorbs them and transports them to the hair, increasing moisture.
However, suppose the hair’s moisture content surpasses that in the air (when the humidity is low); glycerin will flush the water out, causing the hair to become dry. In that case, this is based on thermodynamic equilibrium principles.
And so, how does flash drying happen? After moisturizing your hair, there’s higher moisture content than in the surrounding environment. When you immediately apply a humectant, it induces moisture loss—to balance the water equilibrium—causing drying.
Surface coating mechanism
Many companies place film-forming compounds in hair formulations for creating thin films on the hair’s surfaces, protecting it from environmental factors such as humidity.
These compounds are found in hair styling products, including gels, curling custard, and creams. Along with their role of enhancing volume and appearance, the film can occasionally cause hair to become stiff and rigid – this can happen quickly, even when the hair is still damp.
The thick coating prevents active chemicals and water molecules from penetrating further.
Calcium and magnesium deposits in hard water
In general, hard water usually has calcium and magnesium ion concentrations. Repeated metal ion deposition on the hair fiber’s outer cuticle surface—during washing— may create a crystalline structure on the hair shaft.
Recent research has established that metal accumulation changes hair’s physicochemical and aesthetic properties, such as feel and shine.
The studies also showed that a substantial accumulation of metal might obstruct the entrance of active substances, resulting in undesirable and unexpected outcomes, one of which is flash drying.
What are ingredients that cause flash drying hair?
Using the information mentioned in the preceding part, we can create a list of substances that we should avoid avoiding flash drying.
Undoubtedly, every one of us knows glycerin, and a majority have used it. Despite being one of the most cost-effective moisturizers for hair and skin, it operates in a two-way fashion and may cause flash drying.
Studies show that glycerin-containing products (5.0–10.0 percent) may induce severe flash drying. The drying can be worse if you apply glycerin directly to your hair.
Aloe Vera is an incredible component due to its plethora of benefits. It comprises between 300 and 400 unique compounds that combine synergistically to produce dermo-cosmetic performance.
It also has starch, glycosides, Mannose sugar, and acylate derivative acemannan. Additionally, it contains crucial amino acid protein molecules.
Haircare products containing aloe vera are similarly prone to flash drying. A probable explanation is the simultaneous impact of carbohydrate and protein molecules. These molecules can retain and draw moisture from the hair, resulting in an abrupt moisture loss.
Haircare products frequently contain conditioning polymers. Most polymers are giant molecules with a high molecular weight that forms a thin coating on our hair shaft.
PVP and its derivative products are prime examples of such polymers that exhibit excellent styling and moisture properties in high-humidity environments. Nevertheless, overuse and frequent applications, on the other hand, can cause build-up and rigidity.
This is because they alter the surface properties of hair, which inhibits water and other chemicals (such as conditioners) from penetrating further, hence causing dryness.
How can I prevent flash drying my hair?
After reading about flash drying, it’s apparent that you’d want to avoid it. Here’s how
• Always use a thorough cleansing shampoo with a somewhat acidic pH to minimize or eliminate product build-up.
• Avoid strong sulfate shampoos since they can damage your hair by altering its moisture balance, leading to flash drying
• Avoid products, such as aloe vera with large protein molecules—especially if your hair is protein-sensitive
• Avoid using hard water for cleaning. It will cause metal build-up, which is harmful to your hair’s health. If that’s impossible, use a shampoo with an acidic pH (or chelating shampoo) to get rid of calcium and magnesium ions.
• Avoid using high molecular weight products like beeswax, wax, or butter.
• If you experience flash drying after using a specific product and need a quick solution: moisturize your hair, remove the residue using excess water and a deep cleansing somewhat acidic shampoo, detangle it with an essential conditioner, rinse everything off, then apply a leave-in conditioner with low polymeric content.
Indeed, anyone can experience flash drying, regardless of their hair health, texture, or length—it mostly depends on the products you apply after washing or moisturizing it.
I bet, you don’t want to walk around with brittle, dull, dry, or frizzy hair. And so, you should take note of products having all the ingredients I have discussed, including humectants, aloe vera, and film-forming polymers.
Don’t get it wrong; I’m not telling you to avoid them. However, now that you know the mechanism behind each of them use them wisely. For instance, you can always use humectants when the humidity is high—they’ll attract the water molecules in the surrounding environment making your hair lusher. The opposite is true. Similarly, only use film-forming polymers in moderation.
Extra reading material
I hope you liked reading the article and that you learned a lot! If you did, and you want to read more, simply click on one of the links below!
Why Does My Hair Dry So Fast?
Why Do I Have Coarse and Wiry Hair at My Crown?
Is Suave Good for Your Hair?